Lok Raj Sangathan organised a public discussion on growing communal and fascist terror and the necessity to defend the right to conscience on 20 September 2015 in New Delhi. The discussion attracted participants from all sections of the people, students, professors, workers and professionals. Women and youth participated in large numbers in the meeting.
Welcoming the gathering, the President of the Lok Raj Sangathan pointed to the increasing communal and fascist attacks taking place in India. Workers are being targeted for raising legitimate demands while various individuals are being attacked and imprisoned for voicing views not to the liking of the rulers. He said that India has been the land where hundreds of different outlooks and philosophies have flourished. People have debated different points of view amongst each other in a civilized way. He said that it was necessary to treat the issue under discussion today in the same way – giving your own views, while listening to and respecting the views of the others.
Representatives of twenty parties and organisations of the people participated in the discussion. Among those who spoke on the issue were Com. Rajiv Dimri from CPI ML (Liberation), Dr. Sanjeev Chhiber of Naya Daur Party, Advocate Yusuff of Popular Front of India, Shri Kashif from the Association for Protection of Civil Rights, Shri Yogesh of Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Comrade Prakash Rao of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, Shri M M Kashyap, Advocate of Supreme Court, Shri Alok of Majdoor Ekta Kendra, Shri Aslam of SDPI, Shri Lokesh of Hind Naujawan Ekta Sabha, and Ms. Renu of Purogami Mahila Sangathan. Amongst others who participated in the meeting were Comrade RK Sharma of the SUCI(Communist), Comrade Vijay Singh of Revolutionary Democracy, Shri Kailash of Delhi Shramik Sangathan, Shri Ravi Nitesh from the Save Irom Sharmila Campaign, Liaq from the Students Islamic Organisation.
A power point presentation by LRS showed that communal violence has been on the rise over the years. It brought out clearly that the entire state machinery was responsible for unleashing communal violence against targeted communities. Despite the fact that the parties in power and in the opposition at the centre have changed places several times in the past three decades, none of the organisers of the different communal massacres have ever been punished. The presentation dispelled the myth that only the so-called communal parties have been responsible for the violence and terror. There have been many more occurrences of communal violence in the reign of the so-called secular Congress Party than any other party, it pointed out.
The presentation brought home the truth that communal violence, i.e., the practice of targeting of communities based on religion to accomplish a political purpose, was started in India during British colonialists rule. The British colonialists came to the conclusion that the only way they could perpetuate their rule of plunder was to set the Indian people against each other on the basis of religion, caste and other differences, so that the people of India did not unite and rise up in rebellion against colonial rule. They set up educational institutions in which the colonial lie of Indians being divided into a “Hindu majority” and other religious minorities and other such lies were repeatedly dinned into the heads of those who studied in these institutions. They systematically went about exacerbating divisions in Indian society on the basis of religion and caste.
The colonial state was a communal state and it systematically created parties and organisations such as the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League, which were imbued with the colonial and communal outlook of the colonisers. The colonialists worked together with these organisations to repeatedly smash the unity of the Indian people through organising communal massacres. The presentation showed that communal riots were particularly engineered by the British colonialists whenever the opposition of the people to their oppressive rule escalated, such as in the aftermath of the Great Ghadar of 1857, after the rebellion in the British Indian army in 1915 and after the rebellion in the navy in the 1940s. The partition of the country in 1947, accompanied with the biggest communal carnage and largest human migration, was their parting “gift” to our people.
The presentation made the important point that in August 1947, there was no break made with the colonial state and its communal foundation. Even though it was pointed out during the Constituent Assembly debates that the state inherited was a communal state, and the Assembly itself had been elected on the basis of communal electorates, the Constituent Assembly promulgated a constitution on behalf of the people of India, without consulting the people. All the institutions of rule of the colonial state were retained intact.
When we examine the major communal massacres in post-independent India, like in 1984, 1992-3 and 2003, we can see that the government has used communal violence to push through policies to enrich a handful of big monopolies that are blatantly against the interest of the broad sections of the people. The presentation concluded that the curse of communal and fascist terror can be ended only through the democratic renewal of India so that a break is made with the colonial state structure.
The presentation was followed by questions from the participants on issues arising from it, which were answered from the Presidium. This was followed by wide participation as more than a dozen other participants intervened with their views and questions throughout the discussion and kept the discussion lively.
All the speakers applauded the content of the presentation, and agreed that such acts of violence against any particular community are not spontaneous; they are organised. They are designed to pit one section of the people against another. Speakers elaborated on the communalisation of the polity and organisation of communal violence for electoral gains. The Muzaffarnagar violence of two years ago is a recent example.
Both the presentation and various speakers highlighted the fact that the guilty go unpunished after every event of communal violence. Commissions of inquiry have identified the politicians and police for being responsible for allowing violence to take place. It is well known that a riot cannot last if the administration and the police did not want it. Punishment of the guilty would be a strong deterrent - if those guilty for organising 1984 massacre had been punished then the massacre of 2002 would not have taken place.
There were two other presentations by Advocate Yusuff of Popular Front of India on the genesis and provisions of the UAPA and by Shri Kashif from the Association for Protection of Civil Rights relating to targeting of people by black laws like TADA, POTA, UAPA and AFSPA.
The presentation on the UAPA highlighted the fact that right when it was first enacted in 1967, it was directed at targeting the political opposition, and in particular all those who questioned the Indian state and the way it was constituted.
The presentation on the actual application of the black laws showed how the majority of people who are currently incarcerated under these laws are people from the Muslim and Sikh communities, and those who are accused of being Maoist sympathisers. It also pointed out that the majority of people arrested under the UAPA in 2014 were from Manipur. It was highlighted that in spite of many provisions of these laws that makes it very difficult for the accused to defend himself, there have been very few convictions for the various acts of terrorism. This showed two things — that these laws were being used to target innocent people, and that they were aimed at protecting the actual perpetrators of terrorist crimes.
In his intervention, Comrade Prakash Rao pointed out that the growing climate of communal and fascist terror, the increasing attacks on the right to conscience, were a worldwide phenomenon. The so called “secular” states of US, Britain, France were in the forefront of creating such an atmosphere. The present Indian state deliberately emphasises the religious and caste identity of people while it denies their human identity and violates their human rights, including the right to conscience, on a daily basis. He pointed out that a state can either be an instrument for all round progress of society or it an instrument of retrogression, blocking the striving of people for enlightenment and progress. The Indian state, just like the present day capitalist - imperialist states of the US, Britain etc, is defending the most brutal and barbaric system of capitalist exploitation and imperialist plunder and repeating the lie that this is for the benefit of people. The Indian state declares that its Constitution cannot be questioned by the people! The history of our civilisation shows that we have advanced only when people have questioned the existing state of affairs, and fought for changing their conditions. Such a state which is opposed to enlightenment, which viciously attacks the right to conscience, can never be truly secular.
The capitalist class is the enemy of progress and well-being of the people and is the organiser of communal and fascist terror. He emphasised that the Indian State is communal and needs the parties that communally divide the people. That is why those who organise the communal massacres are never punished. He concluded by saying that there are only two trends – the revolutionary trend that wants to empower the people and the reactionary trend that wants to keep the people in subjugation and preserve the status quo. He called upon all to join hands in the struggle against the growing communal and fascist terror, for enlightenment and progress.
Several other speakers called for the people to come together to oppose the growing fascism. They agreed with the need to go amongst the masses of ordinary people and expose the real nature of the Indian State. They felt that people should be organised at the ground level and we have to strengthen a sanjha morcha to counter the growing communal and fascist terror.
While summing up the discussion, Shri Raghavan pointed out that we have to defeat the lying propaganda of the ruling elite that people are communal. The discussion has helped in looking at the issue of the source of communal violence in an all-sided manner and from different perspectives. This will help us to take the message to the people and prove convincingly that it is the Indian State and its institutions and Constitution which are communal from head to toe.
The meeting concluded with Lok Raj Sangathan calling on everyone to take the discussion widely among the people, to the schools, colleges and universities, among the students and youth, in residential areas and at workplaces. On behalf of Lok Raj Sangathan, Sucharita called on all organisations and individuals working in defence of the rights of the people and for people's empowerment, to widely discuss the issue and come up with proposals on how to strengthen our unity in the face of the growing communal and fascist terror.
In the end, the following resolution was unanimously adopted.
We, who have gathered in New Delhi for the public discussion on "Combat the growing communal and fascist terror" on 20th September 2015, having discussed the issue of growing communal violence and attack on the right to conscience, resolve to:
- condemn the increasing communal violence, hate mongering and attack on right to conscience of people
- condemn the vitiating atmosphere of suspicion that is being created where people are branded as "terrorists", "fundamentalists" and put in jails
- uphold the principle that an attack on one is an attack on all;
- widen the discussion on source of communal violence and way forward
- work together to defeat the divide and rule policy of the ruling elite and build our unity against communal and fascist terror.