Shades of communalism, racism: From UP to Israel

 
   
Last week I was in Uttar Pradesh. And I saw and sensed communal politics at its peak. Citizens, cutting across communities and castes, sat apprehensive and worried. It was more than writ large that the BJP and Right-Wing outfits are spreading poison, dividing people on religious and caste lines. Though these divisions have been ongoing right from the early 90s but now this poison is getting unleashed right into rural belts, under all possible garbs and ploys and tactics cum third class moves. Last week itself there were reports of communal clashes in and around Rampur, Saharanpur, Meerut and also in certain pockets of rural Bareilly /Baduan. Also, perhaps, its for the first time after Partition that the Sikhs and Muslims clashed in Saharanpur, on a politically created ploy centering around a land /property dispute. 

In fact, you don’t have to go very far back to see the well – executed BJP designs at work. Last autumn clashes between Muslims and the Jats were made to erupt in Muzaffarnagar. All these decades the two communities were living in harmony till about the time the BJP made inroads and saw to it that the Muslim were uprooted from their ancestral lands. Till date living like refugees, under those tattered tents! 

To the why to this current communal surcharge, there is this one – liner – its Amit Shah’s strategy to bring his party – BJP – to rule this State. Yes, that’s it. Travel to Lucknow and its outskirts and beyond and even the man on the roadside will tell you that this is the game plan of the Right -Wing outfits which are out and out to bring in deep divides. In fact, an old Lucknow resident went to the extent of describing the ongoing situation in these words ‘its that Devil at work !’ 

It was depressing to see the slow and steady destruction of ‘togetherness’ that Avadh was once known for. What the British could not achieve is today being made to achieve. To rule, rather misrule, these petty politicians are using the hapless citizens to cut each other. In fact, if the ruling Samajwadi Party (ruling in UP) does not counter these communal outfits there is doom for times to come. Divided we will perish.

THE PAIN OF GAZA 

The pain of Gaza hits and continues to hit… In fact, at the SAHMAT organized meet to focus on the barbaric massacre of the Palestinians in Gaza, each face looked pale. Hundreds of artists and academics and students had gathered at the SAHMAT’s Ferozeshah Road situated office to express solidarity with the Palestinians. To be spotted that evening were Sharmila Tagore, Sanjana Kapur, Mushirul Hasan and Zoya Hasan, MK Raina, Vivan Sundaram and many more. There were many well known artists but heavy downpour seemed to come in way of these artists expressing solidarity through the medium of master stokes on those canvas and posters and boards …

In fact, what had stood out that evening were photographs of Palestinians. Hundreds of Palestinians injured and dying, fleeing their homes in pain and despair … all this in the backdrop of Israeli bombing and blatant killings. A genocide taking place as mute spectators we sit andwatch.

And this coming Sunday – August 10 – several academics led by the former IIT Professor Vipin Tripathi, have planned to hold a day long fast at New Delhi’s symbolic protest stretch – Jantar Mantar. This fast will be undertaken to express solidarity with the Palestinians. 

To quote Professor Tripathi – "War on Gaza has taken a very heavy toll, 1800 impoverished Palestinians, including children, and 58 Israelis, and is continuing with damning ferocity against a helpless people, bombing schools and hospitals… Gaza and West Bank are a rightful place for 4.4 million Palestinians, rendered homeless after the forceful eviction from their motherland, Palestine, sixty -six years ago. However, the Government of Israel has put them under virtual seize for years, burying its own commitment/ agreement. It is unjust and inhuman to bombard armless people living under its occupation… The excuse is stated to be the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli hikers in the occupied West Bank, followed shortly thereafter by the kidnapping and fatal burning of a Palestinian teenager by a group of Israelis. The Netanyahu government blamed Hamas for the kidnapping without any evidence and pretended the kidnapped Israelis were still alive for several weeks, even though there was evidence indicating the victims were already dead, to whip up anti-Arab sentiment and justifying punitive operations in the West Bank and Gaza. 

We have no jurisdiction over the conflict area. However, we cannot remain an active economic and strategic collaborator to a state indulged in such bloodshed. We urge the Government of India to suspend all collaboration until the bloodshed ends. It must come out with white paper on the level of collaboration with warring parties to this conflict… 

India, since the days of national movement for freedom, has stood for freedom and peaceful coexistence of all the people of the world. Masses of the world are one, has been our motto. We wish our Government and Parliament to rise on this issue and save the nation and humanity at large from disgrace….

We appeal to peace loving people to observe August 10, 2014 as a day of prayer and fast in solidarity with the suffering masses. You may join us at Jantar Mantar on August 10, 9 AM to 6 PM." 

Just a word of caution – During the fast, Professor Tripathi should make sure that Shiv Sena MP, Rajan Vichare, be kept at a distance. Why? For this politician is known for breaking fasts! He is the same man who last fortnight was seen shoving a roti into the mouth of a fasting Maharashtra Sadan employee. 

FOCUS ON PALESTINE …

Foremost, I salute the very resistance, that will power, that spirit of the Palestinians. It is this spirit of nationalism that has made them take on the might of the Israeli military. The average Palestinian is equipped with just about nothing except that undying will power and with that he or she has had the grit and guts to take on the military might of Israel. Forced the Israeli forces of destruction to retreat and halt the genocide.

I have always felt strongly for the Palestinians and their ongoing struggle for justice. In fact, my very first short story – which I wrote years back, whilst I was in school – was based on a hapless Palestinian woman, in the backdrop of her undying grit to take on the military might of Israel …

And in these years as I had been interviewing the Palestinian envoys to India, I have realized that it is their nationalism, their pride, their love for their homeland that has made them continue their struggle.

In fact, few days back I met here in New Delhi, the senior Palestinian diplomat – Saleh Fhied Mohammad – who is posted as minister in the embassy of the State of Palestine. 

And to the ‘why’ and ‘how’ this struggle is continuing, he said –

"This struggle will continue …will continue till our people get back their lands, their rights, their freedom to survive…we have been under occupation all these decades and our people have gone through pain and havoc and brutality …hundreds and thousands of our children and men and women have been killed by the Israeli military. We will not give up. We want justice and for that we will put up a strong resistance against the Israelis … All these years our people have been fighting with nothing to them except that ongoing will power, taking on an enemy like Israel which is laced with the latest military technology." 

*(Humra Quraishi is a freelance columnist based in Delhi and is currently a visiting Professor in the Academy of Third World Studies in Jamia Milia University).