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Mainstream, VOL L, No 37, September 1, 2012

Hate Campaign, Ecuador, Citizenship Issue

Sunday 2 September 2012, by Humra Quraishi

Going backwards. These happenings and the ongoing offshoots pull you backwards towards the times of Partition, when trains carried petrified beings from here to there, when fear and anarchy reigned, when politicians held sway with or without hate speeches, when opportunists made headway, when sane voices lay submerged amidst communal onslaught, when innocents sat hungry and horrified in refugee camps, when religious and regional divisions hit, killed, bled, displaced hundreds and thousands.

Today, these present day images hit harder. Seems unbelievable that in this day and age these divisions cannot be controlled and countered. Painful to see traumatised people running from one locale to the next, in their own country. And those displaced sitting under heaps of hope-lessness in those makeshift camps. Even as those rumours are being brought under control, the role of regional outfits comes into focus—Sri Ram Sene outfits in Karnataka declaring loud and clear that they would make rounds of Mangalore and Bangalore to check who are the so called ‘outsiders—Bangladeshis’. Why is the Karnataka State Government tolerating these proclamations of this Hindutva outfit? Doesn’t it realise the sheer communal havoc this move by the Ram Sene men could create? And there in Mumbai you had Raj Thackeray bypassing and defying all possible orders and carrying out his rally, relaying further divisions along regional patterns.

Why are hate campaigns and provocations not banned? Why are hate speech givers not rendered redundant? Why are political tilts even in this sphere! Communal and extremist elements from any possible region or religion ought to be rendered speechless but here too communal politics holds sway!

This build-up bringing along divisions along a communal format is going on for the last twenty years. In fact, right from the early nineties, when L.K. Advani went about whipping sentiments and emotions…that frenzy went uncontrolled, that poisoning spread out, resulting in the destruction of the Babri Masjid. Thereafter the divisions lay uncontrolled, as riots and killings spread out. People went about running from here to there. Yes, even then entire families from the minority community shifted from Ayodhya and Faizadad to safer locales—Lucknow and Bareilly. Not that riots didn’t take place before but they were never so widespread and ongoing, with such apparent suspicion and the fear of the ‘other’. The 1984 anti-Sikh riots again saw displacement and fear spreading out amongst the Sikh community. Together with that feeling of hopelessness-cum-disgust vis-a-vis the state machinery. And the very scenario has turned uglier since the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. It’s writ large and widespread. In fact, these last ten years have seen the worst of turbulent times, in terms of communal frenzy and the politics that comes along. The apolitical is at the receiving end. And the political rulers are getting away with murders and killings and provocations.

The only practical remedy to beat this frightening build-up is make each one of us see/view this particular film—Hotel Rwanda. Make it compulsory for each one us view this film. It focuses on the disasters ethnic violence brings along: mass rapes and killings of the citizens, irrespective of their status and religious-cum-ethnic slotting…no rescue, as those foreign powers manipulate the local politicians. This film shakes you, it has the power to jolt even the thick-skinned amongst us.
Foreign powers-cum-ploys at work can only be curtailed if the top brass is committed to protecting the citizen. But here what you see is narrow political games at work. Even as hundreds and thousands sit affected, in the midst of poisonous propaganda at work, there are round-table discussions and more of them flooding the small screen. Will the politicians step out and see and sense what’s been happening to the apolitical innocents caught in this crossfire?

Ecuador—That One Potent Country!

The fact that we still have people and politicians who carry the courage to take on the UK and USA combined has been well relayed by Ecuador giving refuge to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. This country being backed by several Latin American countries relays a very significant fact—their combined disgust against the UK-USA’s reign of supremacy, reign of terror tactics, reign of utter disregard for freedom of expression.

Imagine what if Julian Assange had sought asylum in India? Or if he had simply come here as a refugee, seeking refuge here…Close your eyes for a couple of minutes and there would spread out this scenario—he’d be labelled a refugee and with that blamed for all the ills and turmoil spread around, and with that even attacked by Right-wing extremists. Or he would be just about ‘safely’ deported back, by our weak politicians, who seem to be in the very grip of American dictates.

This Book Focuses On The Very Crux

This recently published book ‘Denial of Citizen-ship rights and marginalisation: Linguistic Bengalis and Muslim minorities in Assam’ by Professor Shahiuz Zaman Ahmed—who teaches at the Guwahati University—gets into focus. It focuses on the citizenship issue in Assam where the Muslims and Bengali-speaking Hindus are discriminated against by the State by way of the ‘D’ voters list.

‘D’ stands for doubtful voters and this is an insidious way of religious profiling resorted to by the state to marginalise minorities. The state of Assam arbitrarily puts names of these groups in this dubious list in a register whereby these voters can’t vote and exercise their important political and civil right.

This book also gives a brief history of the conflict between the Assamese and Muslims and Hindus from West Bengal who were encouraged by the British pre-Independence to settle and cultivate land in Assam for economic and political reasons.

This was followed by a number of negotiations and pacts. A new dimension was added to this issue during and after the formation of Bangladesh when a large number of Bangladeshi citizens migrated to India and especially Assam. The Muslims in Assam are ‘deported’ back to Assam as the state alleges that they are Bangladeshi migrants. This leads to a real and brutal fear of rendering innocent citizens stateless—a grave human right violation. The discontent against these Bengali-speaking Muslims and Hindus still persist after so many decades and they are arbitrarily denied their citizenship rights.”

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