Stirring up trouble is easy to do – putting out fires is much harder!
Just two days ago, a court in Goa acquitted 40 persons for their role in Goa’s very first communal riot in 2006. The verdict was that there was not enough evidence to make the case. That is pure and simple rubbish because people who made their own independent investigations stumbled upon enough and more hard evidence to prove that the riots were pre-meditated and that the Muslims were victims of a hatched conspiracy.
At times like this, one wonders where the loyalties of the police forces lie. Politicians have their own axe to grind and care little or nothing about minorities being brutalised. At best, they would visit the spot to shed some crocodile tears and then its business as usual.
The case in Goa merits a review. The newly formed BJP government has sworn that it has turned a new leaf and has abandoned its old communal stripes. Here is a test case. Will the CM order a fresh inquiry? Or, does he have his own skeletons in the cupboard. BJP leaders had a huge hand in the riots and ABVP volunteers were seemingly trained to provide stout defences for the attackers.
Only a week ago in Gujarat, Modi received some respite from courts – once again supposedly because there was lack of evidence against his actions.
So when will our country with all its secular credentials – with its Agni missiles, with its new found status as the country with the third highest purchasing power in the world, also invest in peace and communal harmony? When will the political class and the lumpen elements that function as their arms and legs when it comes to stirring up trouble learn that co-existence based on justice is the only foundation for peace and development? Not divide and rule.
Communalism is the worst of form of cancer our country must tackle. It can eat into our entire social fabric and reverse every thing the country has achieved. Worse, it can ensure that the trouble makers will make their quick bucks while the poor are put out on the streets to fight it out with no clue most often as to even what the real trouble is.
We share with you an article “Manufacturing a Riot” by the well known social commentator Ram Punyani. His analysis of two recent riots which, by definition, were manufactured with mischief and devious intent makes useful learning. Quite often, we tend to follow the media and its opinions. Newspapers and television are not the place for news and analysis. Ram Punyani provides us clues of why we must look beyond the surface when a communal riot happens and, instead, get to the root of the agenda of the instigators.
If you are interested in knowing more, you may contact Ram Punyani firstname.lastname@example.org. His in depth knowledge of the patterns of communalism and the ways ion which it can be combated are widely documented in his myriad articled and papers.
Manufacturing a Riot
In Saidabad and Madannapeth areas of Hyderabad (April 1st week, 2012) violence was unleashed against the local Muslims. In this violence several houses were damaged, many a people were injured and women were raped. Just before the incident Praveen Togadia had given an inflammatory speech in the area. There was news that fundamentalists (read- Muslims) have thrown beef and green colour in the Hanuman temple. This news was enough to instigate the violence. The police succeeded in arresting the culprits, who turned out to be those belonging to Hindu communal outfits.
On the New Year eve, 1st January (2012), In Sindagi town of Bijapur Pakistan flag was seen on the government buildings. The news spread with rapid speed and violence which followed led to the burning of six state transport buses and many other vehicles. As it turned out it was the activists of Sri Ram Sene of Pramod Mutallik, an ex-RSS Pracharak (Propagator), who first hoisted the Pakistan flag and then went about telling people about the same.
There are many more dimensions of both these acts of violence, brought in by using religious identity, symbols and emotive appeals. Communal violence is a cancer which has spread in to the body politic of our society. The very foundation of communal violence is the ‘social common sense’ the ‘hate-other’ ideology build around the myths and biases prevalent against the ‘others’. As such communal violence is the superficially visible part of the communal politics, a politics deriving its legitimacy from the identity of religion. To begin with the hatred for ‘other’ community’ started getting consolidated around the communal projection of History, supplemented by aspects from the present social life of a community, exaggerated and put forward in a derogatory way. In pre-partition period the violence was emerging from both communal streams and British were a sort of neutral umpires.
With partition process Muslim communalism got deflated, violence changed its form and started assuming different trend leading to rise of conservatism; orthodoxy amongst Muslims. The minority communalism promoted more conservative values amongst minorities and also gave provocations to the majority communalism. After the quiet period after the ghastly post-partition riots, violence started surfacing after 1961with Jabalpur violence, in the wake of which Pundit Nehru, the then Prime Minster of the country, constituted National Integration Council, which has been playing some insignificant role in promoting national integration. It is more of a debating club, meeting once a while, forgetting about the issue inthe intervening period.
The communal violence, where two communities are made to pitch against each other has been changing its character and now communal groups, who are on the provoking and attacking spree have a clear goal of intimidating and subjugating the religious minorities. At the same time the pretext is manufactured that Muslims are violent or Christians have attacked, ‘they’ begin the violence and then get the‘deserved’ punishment. This again is a totally make believe construct. The two incidents which have taken place amply show the anatomy of manufacturing a riot. The majoritarian communal streams have built up their strength by polarizing the communities along religious lines. Founded on the deeper biases against minorities, the rumours played the role of triggering the violence, or rumours play the role of the precipitating factor in the concentrated solution of ‘Hate other’. Many rumours have been used, killing of the cow, abduction/rape of Hindu women, cutting of the breast of women, discretion of the holy place/book etc. Adding on the list has come in this Pakistan flag, which is a quiet an innovation during last some time.
The violence by and large is a planned one and is made to look a spontaneous one, that too sparked by the minorities. The Hyderabad and Sindagi incidents are new pointers to this. Earlier in the Kandhamal, violence was triggered on the pretext of the death of Swami Laxmananand, who as such was killed by Maoists. Swami Laxmananand’s dead body was taken in a procession through Christian minority areas, and the rivers of blood followed. The Gujarat violence was undertaken in a pre planned manner on the pretext of the burning of train in Godhra and the merchants of death followed. In Mumbai after the demolition of Babri Mosque, some Muslim youth threw stones on the police station, the Shiv Sena activists threw Gulal (Orange color of celebration used mostly by Hindus) on a mosque and Bal Thackeray gave the call for ‘teaching them a lesson’. So far many inquiry commissions and citizen’s tribunals have pointed out the role of the majoritarian communal organization. Starting from the report of Bhivandi riots (Madon Commission) to Mumbai violence (Sri Krishna Commission), their conclusions are similar to a large extent. The riot instigation is done in a way, it is orchestrated it in such a fashion, as if the Muslims have thrown the first stone or Christians have precipitated the violence.
Dr. V.N. Rai, a police officer did his doctoral work on the theme of riots between 1968-1980 (Combating Communal Conflicts), and a longish quote from this book will enlighten us on the issue,” very often the way in which the first stone is thrown or the first hand is raised in aggression, suggests an outside agency at work, an agency that wants to create a situation in which members of the minority community commit an act which ignites severe retribution for themselves. In order to guard them against external criticism and to preserve their self righteousness, violence is projected to be started by Muslims. It is as if a weaker person is pushed into the corner by a stronger, forcing him to raise his hand so that he may be suitably punished for his `attack’. Before the punishment is meted out a suitable hue and cry can be made about the fact that because the person cornered is naturally wicked and violent, he is bound to attack first”(Pg. 56-57).”
Now there is some change in the trajectory of the riot instigation; there is a continuity and change in the issues used to manufacture the riots. Now the communal elements are becoming bolder to hoist the Pakistan flag or to throw the piece of beef and green color more boldly. The other change is in the relative increase in the percentage of victims belonging to minority community. By 1980s 65% of victims were Muslims (V.N.Rai) in 1991 it was 80% (Union Home ministry data) and by 2001 this percentage has further gone up. These data tell their own tale. The communal violence has polarized the communities along religious lines, and has given flesh and blood to the communal politics. It has laid the foundation for identity related issues coming to the fore and marginalizing the core issues of society.
While large number of measures is needed to curb the communal violence and to snub the organizations deliberately playing mischief, it is imperative that multi layered approach is taken up to bring peace and harmony in the society. We need to battle against the stereotypes and biases at all the levels, amongst the people and amongst the administration. At the same time a major step of setting up inter-religious committees in all the areas can combat the rumors or find the truth as to who has hoisted the flag or thrown beef, and this may prevent the violence in many a situations.