– Jagadish G Chandra
Bangalore these days is purging itself its long held image, that it is a city that is impervious to what happens around the world. The gathering on 25th August ’14 to remember the Communal Carnage of 2007 & 2008 in Odisha’s Kandhamal district is any indication, then the ordinary working people citizens of this city are surely shrugging off their old habits.
Unlike the old times when activists struggled to organise solidarity protest actions for various people’s causes, both pertaining to India and other countries, now there is a marked change for the better in the numbers participating in such events. While the mammoth gathering of 17th July event in support of the Palestinians may remain a benchmark for an event for a long time to come, but the willing participation of the people on 25th August to express solidarity to the Victims of Communal Violence in Kandhamal, from a cross section of classes, castes, religion, gender and nationality instils a ray of hope for the struggles ahead.
It is no exaggeration to admit that we in Peoples’ Solidarity Concerns-Bangalore & New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) have had protests with pathetic numbers, sometimes not going beyond the count of fingers in one’s hands. But it was a welcome change for the organisers to be received by dozens of young female participants from Mount Carmel College who had gathered well ahead of the start time on 25th August.
While the number might not have been more than 120 or so, but it was the quality of participation that was unique. One notable and commendable fact was that it surely did not turn out to be a protest event just by Christians because during Kandhamal violence Dalith Christians and Adivasis were the main targets. As mentioned earlier young & elderly from all religious backgrounds were there.
Speaker after speaker spoke on the issue of growing intolerance orchestrated by the Right Wing Hinduthva forces around the country, and how the majoritarianism and communal-ism is creeping into the administration, police & courts, which is increasingly eroding the values of non-partisan, secular ethos that were envisaged in the Constitution of India.
Among the speakers were, Rev. Prasad, Fr. Ambrose Pinto,(Pricipal, St. Aloysius College) , Raj Bharth Patta (SCMI), Debapriya (Student,Mount Carmel), Cynthia Stephen (Social Policy Researcher), Azharuddin Khan Chikmagalur (Political Science Researcher), Balaji Shanmughavel ( May17 movement), Manohar Ranganathan (Human Rights Activist) , Vishwanath (New Socialist Alternative & Dudiyora Horaata), Rini Ralte (United Theological College). Jagadish G Chandra, the convenor of Peoplers’ Solidarity Concerns-Bangalore conducted the event and Narasimha Murthy, Bangalore’s dedicated Human Rights Defender gave the Vote of Thanks.
Both Ambrose Pinto and Raj Bharath Patta, reiterated their unequivocal stand that All Communal Attacks must be stopped, and the democratic and progressive forces in this country must actively campaign for secular values in the society.Vishwanath of New Socialist Alternative/ದುಡಿಯೋರ ಹೋರಾಟ, in his emotional self brought the issue of Kambalapalli carnage and questioned to say
” ಹಾಗಾದರೆ ನಾವು ದಲಿತರು ಈ ಕೋರ್ಟ್ ತೀರ್ಪನ್ನ ಏನು ಅಂತಾ ಅರ್ಥ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳೋಣ? ಕಂಬಾಲಪಲ್ಲಿಯಲ್ಲಿ 14 ವರುಷಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ಆ ಅಮಾನುಶ ಪೈಶಾಚಿಕ ಕೃತ್ಯ ನಡೆಯಲೇಇಲ್ಲವಾ? ನನ್ನ 7 ಅಣ್ಣ-ತಮ್ಮಂದಿರು ದಲಿತರು ಸುಟ್ಟು ಕರಕಲು ಆಗಲಿಲ್ಲವಾ? ಈ ದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ ದಲಿತರಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಈರೀತಿ “ನ್ಯಾಯನಾ”, ಅನ್ಯಾಯ ನಮಗೆ ಫುಲ್ಲೀ ರಿಸರ್ವಡಾ? ಇದಾ ದಲಿತರಿಗೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿರೋ ಡೆಮಾಕ್ರಸಿ?”
(In that case how should we the Dalits in this country understand the court’s judgement on Kambaalapalli massacre? Should we think the ghastly & demonic carnage never happened in Kambaalapalli? That my 7 Dalit brothers were never burnt alive? Is it the case that in this country only Daliths get this type of “justice”? Or is it that injustice is fully reserved for Daliths? Is this the Democracy that Daliths get?-Vishwanath)
The main speaker at the event was Meena Kandasamy;Poet, Author and Political Activist who specially travelled from Chennai to participate and express her solidarity to the victims of Kandhamal Violence, Meena emphasised on the need to unite our forces to thwart all the attempts to gang up against the vulnerable and the marginalised in the society.
She was rightly scathing in her speech about the present government at the centre led by BJP’s Modi and said that ” We have to remember Kandhamal and Godhra and all the atrocities of communal violence that have taken place. Corporate mainstream media does a complete whitewashing, for instance not even a single newspaper of the day carried any info about Kandhamal and what happened there six years ago. It was the same corporate media that whitewashed Modi and made him this Prime Minister in waiting, and he won. It was the same media that made people forget about Godhra 2002 when they went to the polling booth. So it is important that we remember all the atrocities that have been committed and keep reminding them to ourselves and the public at large.”
Meena very indignantly said “Kandhamal is also a question that we need to revisit today in the relevance of the politics of Hindutva and its present agenda. The entire argument about Love Jihad that has hit the headlines today is not very different from the politics of hate behind Kandhamal. There is a certain Hindutva neurosis and hatred and paranoia about the demographic question. There is an angst that Muslim population is increasing, that’s the reason for rumour of love jihad. We know that such rumours can be very threatening if we look at what happened in Kandhamal. Both are about the Hindu insecurity against conversions. The idea that Christian population was increasing due to conversion caused the destruction of 300 churches and the displacement of thousands of Dalit and Adivasis and Christian people”
In concluding her excellent speech the author of Gypsy Goddess said “Kandhamal is also a story about the question of justice, she quoted Teesta Setalvad, the renowned human rights defender, who says that only 2 of 27 murder trials had any conclusion,that only 3000 of the over 11,300 named in 800 FIRs were brought to trial. Giving a feminist perspective Meena said, how Kandhamal has to be seen as a feminist issue, about how the rapes of women were covered up, how the bodies of gang-raped victims were burned. So this communal violence and its effect on women has to be condemned.
Meena Kandasamy was emphatic in saying that Kandhamal, is a story that recurs all through Indian history. Whether it is Kilvenmani, Bathani Tola, Laxmanpur Bathe, or the recent Kambalapalli judgement, the ruling class, the upper caste, the majority of right wing Hindus who commit the atrocity are allowed to go scot free. We should force the judiciary to stay true.
As the convenor of Peoples’ Solidarity Concerns-Bangalore from New Socialist Alternative, I am immensely grateful and personally thank all those men, women, young and elderly, believers (of various faiths) & non-believers, Human Rights Defenders who gathered to say “No More Kandhamals, Not Here-Not Anywhere”
People United can never be defeated
Solidarity for ever
Jagadish G Chandra is a political & human rights activist based in Bangalore. He is the convenor of Peoples’ Solidarity Concerns-Bangalore from New Socialist Alternative.