The urgency to intervene in defence of democracy, secularism and justice has never been more pressing than in the conditions prevailing in the country today. The rise of communal fascism has emerged as a threat not only to its immediate victims but to the very long-term survival of India as a unified nation of diverse religious, linguistic and ethnic groups.
In recent months, vicious attacks have been mounted across India against religious minorities by Hindutva fascist organizations and communalism has even become the dominant tenor of public discourse. Instead of rising to the challenge and confronting these fascist forces there is total apathy and indecisiveness among those in power. It is almost as if a silent coup has already taken place and India is on the verge of becoming a ’Hindu Rashtra’.
The RSS and organizations under its umbrella have mounted a vicious campaign against the Christian community across India. Over 10 states have seen violent attacks on the Christian community, their institutions, religious places, property and businesses. The Hindutva terrorist groups like the Bajrang Dal are openly claiming responsibility for this communal violence against Christians and are yet being allowed to go scot-free.
Again, throughout the country Muslim youth are being targeted, without any or little evidence, as responsible for the various bomb blasts taking place in the country. There is a concerted attempt by the Indian police, sections of the media and certain political parties to portray all members of the Muslim community as ’terrorists and extremists’ - to be arbitrarily arrested, tortured and killed in fake encounters.
The Indian state is also cracking down hard on ’soft targets’ like human rights and social activists and the fundamental rights of life, liberty, freedom of speech, religion and dissent guaranteed to all citizens by the Indian Constitution are being shred to pieces right in front of our eyes.
Entire swathes of the Indian North-East and Kashmir are covered by the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that authorises even the lowest soldier to shoot and kill civilians on mere suspicion of their being ’militants’. In Chhattisgarh, large numbers of citizens continue to be detained using the highly restrictive Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA). Those defending the rights of the poor, Dalit, adivasis and other marginalised people are being falsely branded as ’extremists’ and ’anti-nationals’.
On the other hand those destroying the secular fabric of the country are extolled as ’nationalists’ and it is clear that the Indian police, bureaucracy and judiciary – instead of upholding their neutrality- are going soft on the crimes of Hindutva terrorists. Hard evidence available against Bajrang Dal and other Sangh outfits of their direct involvement in terror attacks is not only being ignored but actively pushed under the carpet by the Indian state.
All this is happening even as the forces of imperialism led by the United States, under the pretext of the so-called Global War on Terror, are busy re-colonising entire nations from Iraq to Afghanistan and are now targeting Pakistan in the immediate neighbourhood of India. The global media is contributing to this politics of hatred by demonizing Muslims worldwide and frightening ordinary citizens into giving up their basic democratic rights everywhere. India too is being sucked into the vortex of these imperialist designs with our ruling elites showing no understanding of the dangerous implications for our national sovereignty, won with the blood, sweat and tears of our freedom fighters.
Within the country, the pattern of elitist development has turned a vast majority of the population into second-class citizens, reinforcing with misguided policies the apartheid of the ancient and racist caste system. The ghost of the East India Company, buried long ago, is being resurrected in myriad forms and those who run the Indian state are wilfully abetting the return of a neo-colonial order.
It is a state of affairs that calls upon all those who value Indian independence, democratic rights and social justice to come forward, take responsibility and resist the onslaught by fascist and imperialist forces on the foundations of our national values and existence. As an initial effort in this direction we, as concerned citizens, held a National Convention in New Delhi on 25 and 26 October 2008 to work out a countrywide action plan to counter the forces of Hindutva fascism.
25-26 October 2008, New Delhi