Identity as citizenship or citizenship as Identity ?

Anju Ghosh

Bangladeshi film star Anju Ghosh has recently joined BJP in Kolkata. Nobody raised any objection to her being part of the BJP family. When Anju Ghosh was being greeted for membership of the BJP, an army veteran who fought at the Kargil war was arrested on May 29th when he was ‘declared’ ‘illigal immigrant’ by the ‘Foreigners Tribunal’ in Assam. Mohammad Sanaullah was released two days back on bail on the orders of Guwahati High Court. Sanaullah had served in the Indian army for three decade and retired as a Subedar in EME in 2017.

Now, the proposed Citizenship bill and the National Register of Citizens issue has sparked protests and controversy all over the country. Both are closely linked and thoroughly communalised if we look at the turn of events. An army veteran who served our border is declared as ‘Bangladeshi’ because of his ‘Muslim’ identity and at the same point of time a Bangladesh actress working in India is ‘acceptable’ to BJP as their leader perhaps just to communicate the message in Bengal that every ‘Hindu’ ‘refugee’ is welcome to India and will be defacto citizen of this country while every Muslim citizen living in Bengal, Assam and other parts of North East India must provide enough proof of several generations to protect themselves from being ‘evicted’ and send to ‘detention centres’. Is this not a crisis because so far as we dont have any information that the government has spoken to Bangladesh in this regard diplomatically. This act of citizenship’s rabid communal basis only justify the Partition of India. We dont know how can those who justify partition of India on religious lines can claim that they were against it, on what count ?

The crisis is now escalating to other parts too. Two other incidents need our attention and that reflect how we assume things. Kathua’s brutal rape and murder of Asifa was opposed by the entire political class and their cheer leaders in Bollywood, newspapers who felt that it was an attempt to ‘defame’ Hindus as if they cant do it. The thing is that criminals can belong to any community and religion, any caste. Nobody has a monopoly over it. Exceptions are there and nobody was blaming the brahmins as a community to have committed sin in Kathua but the lawyers, the netas, the babas and all those who sided with the criminals actually projected as if the entire community was being targeted.

And look at the response to the another brutal murder of two years old child Twinkle in Aligarh. People have come to the street and started targeting the Muslims since the murder happened to be a Muslim. The petty minds of Bollywood, the failed actors and directors all jumped in with hashtag twinkle want justice, asking questions where are those seeking punishment for Kathua but keeping silent on Aligarh. One of them, very foul mouth Anupam Kher who remained quiet on the Kathua judgement yesterday while kept shouting on Aligarh. Everybody knows Anupam belong to Kashmir yet he did not speak for the rights and justice for the Kashmiri girl who was brutally murdered. Another ‘feminist’ of yesteryear, Madhu Kishwar said that Kathua judgment was against justice. She was shocked to see that judgement. What do you say about such people who have become insane because of playing absolute identity politics of Hindutva.

Legendary Girish Karnad passed away yesterday. Like many others of his fraternity, he stood for artistic freedom, secularism and liberal values which were being attacked. He was insulted and called names as he stood with all those who were termed as ‘urban naxals, tukde tukde gangs, anti national, award wapasi gang, etc etc during the last five year but after his death we saw how everybody ‘expressed’ ‘shock’ on the passing away of this great star including many of those who were either abusing him or encouraging others to troll him.

The Hindutva identity politics does not acknowledge the identities of the vast Bahujan communities. It look down upon them and call their identity politics as ‘caste’ politics. These accusations are not merely by the Hindutva but also of the ‘progressive’ ‘liberal’ left and ‘socialist’ ‘intellectuals. Many of whom are calling Modi’s victory a defeat of identity politics. We dont know what is identity politics if what we are witnessing in India today under the vulgar display of power and contempt towards another identity which is being made as a ‘villain’ in the India’s growth story.

The fact is that India will only grow if it is inclusive and all people who are citizen of India are treated equally and our heart beat for those too who may not be from a different identity of mine yet a fellow citizen and should be able condemn or critique those who who might belong to my religious or caste identity but violate the law and do the wrong. Right and wrongs can only be decided on the basis of prescribed law and in the court of law. The lynch mobs both at the ground zero or inside the TV studios, is the biggest obstacle in our growth story. As a nation we will never succeed if this lynch mob is allowed to take over and decide what it feel right. Let the rule of the law prevail. Let us as the citizen of India grow and speak for fellow citizens whose rights are violated. Let us celebrate the success stories of all those who are citizens of India. Let us feel for all those who are denied justice whether they belong to this or that community. Can we grow and speak up as citizen of India. The identity as an Indian citizen, as Baba Saheb Ambedkar said and which our constitution grant us is the biggest one for all of us and must make us proud. Let us grow as Indian citizen accepting vast diversity of cultures, religions, ethnicity, and languages among us yet as equal partners in India’s strength and growth.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at twitter @freetohumanity Email: [email protected]


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Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at twitter @freetohumanity Email: [email protected]

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