On 2 December 2015, the 'Hindu nationalist' Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had its central programme at Science City, Kolkata. The programme was to commemorate the 'martyrdom' of kar sevaks Ram and Sharad Kothari who had died during L.K. Advani's rath yatra during the Ram Mandir 'movement' in 1990. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has been quoted as saying in the meeting that "The grand goal (of building the Ram temple in place of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya) may be realised in our own lifetime. Maybe we can see it with our own eyes. None can say when and how the temple will be constructed, but we need to be prepared and ready."
Bhagwat readied his forces for bigger goals in their upcoming plan, the subjugation of members of minority communities and dissenting voices across the country, which is not a new thing anymore. His stated dream of the building of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple is little more than a euphemism for the establishment of complete dominance of militant Hindutva politics over the Indian political and social scene. The Sangh Parivar has been quick on the move across the country, riding on fanning communal tensions with impunity after the establishment of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Center and in various states. Even in places such as West Bengal with a non-BJP state government, the Sangh has managed to flourish rapidly feeding on the insecurities of the majority Hindu community backed by state protection, threat and the use of muscle power - in a ground readied no less by increasing neoliberal attacks on the masses. The number of RSS shakhas (branches) in the state is projected to increase from 650 in 2013 to 1,200 by the next year. Communal clashes have been on the rise in the state as in the country, a recent flare-up being witnessed in Medinipur district. With Legislative Assembly elections coming up in West Bengal in 2016, the Sangh Parivar's plans for the state are abundantly clear and already afoot. In such a context, Bhagwat's visit to Kolkata in relation to the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement and his emphasis on another drive to establish the same could not and ought not to have gone unchallenged.
The situation is so grave, the threat so deep and the rising fascism so desperate for power, that at this point it was our political and moral responsibility to raise a voice against Mohan Bhagwat's coming to Kolkata to hold that meeting. Bhagwat comes to the city we live in, he dares to give a call for Ram Mandir construction; and on our part, to say nothing, to do nothing was unjust, politically and morally. So we dared, yes we dared to go there, 25 of us, student and youth activists to Science City where about 5,000 Sanghis were present. In a programme which itself was organised to deliberately spread communal tension, showing black flag to Bhagwat in front of those Sanghis was a political statement on our behalf. An assertion was very much needed to protect the democratic space to protest, to raise a different opinion which these fundamentalists cannot simply stand.
The RSS activists ruthlessly attacked us when we assembled to register our peaceful protest. Many of the comrades were injured. The Sanghis attacked us with lathis, abused us saying, "Tumlog to saale bhagwan ko kaat ke khaateho, Hindu rashtra to hum banayenge, tumlog kuch nahi kar payoge, desh se nikal denge saale tumlogonko" (You're a bunch of beaf-eaters, we will create the Hindu state, you'll be able to do nothing, we'll throw you out of the country) at the beginning while we were writing posters and shouting slogans, then summoned many more saffron hoodlums to the venue who gathered in buses and motorbikes, threatened the media representatives present in the hall of breaking their cameras if they go outside, and finally after hours of preparation, a mob of 400-500 Sanghis chased us again.
For a moment, I feel the shades of riot, I feel convinced how Babu Bajrangi did indeed hit the pregnant woman, Kausharbanu, with a sword, and take out her foetus on the tip of the weapon. And I remind you, don't be comfortable and relieved enough because of Bihar election results or recent Gujarat local body election results. History proves, RSS doesn't just depend on votes, it matters obviously, but when in crisis, RSS can and has deliberately given birth to communal tension through their campaigns. They ally with the central power now, an emergency or an incident on the border with Pakistan or Chins will be more than enough to set the ground for extreme nationalism.
The blows on the bodies of our comrades are grave, yet small before the blows being dealt out to our social fabric and they only make our skin thicker, our resolve stronger, our anger deeper. The rath yatra of 1990 whose 'martyrs' Bhagwat was commemorating was prelude to the horror of communal riots that visited the country in the wake of the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992, following which over 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed across the country. Today we must ask ourselves what the recent brutality is a prelude to, and prepare ourselves for fighting back the onslaught in every town, city and village where the Sangh Parivar goes.
Tolerance is not what we should seek now, that will strengthen the soft Hindutva of Congress era. Well, I personally think, to this increasing intolerance, be intolerant. That can give rise to the alternative assertion, the alternative strength that is much needed to challenge this rising wave of saffronisation and neo-liberalisation.
The author is a student activist.
Tags: RSS, communalism