“If it was for Dalit student Rohith Vemula, why not for another Dalit Rajesh” and "if it was for Akhlaq or Junaid, why not for Mohd Ayub Pandith?” were some of the questions posed to the public by a group of 'right-wing' intellectuals, academics, artists and students who came together for 'Where are you?', a public debate at Jantar Mantar.
“We have created an independent banner ‘Where Are You?’ which is a soul searching slogan for all who continue to remain apathetic to ghastly incidents like the killing of innocents in Kerala by the CPM cadre and those who are selective in defining intolerance,” said one of the members of the group on Wednesday evening.
'Where are you?' comes close on the heels of 'Not in my name', another protest by a group of intellectuals and artists, held at Jantar Mantar on 28 June, to raise questions on the mob lynching of Junaid and other atrocities in the country. The questions raised on 28 June's meet were countered on Wednesday with "why one should question killing of Junaid only, and why not Mohd Ayub Pandith?"
The objective of 'Where are you' was why a particular group of intellectuals question atrocities selectively. In the backdrop of the brutal murder of Kerala RSS worker SL Rajesh, who had received 80 wounds all over his body with his hands chopped, the group emphasised on "ideological polarisation among intellectuals" and "why do they maintain stoic silence or selectively voice their resentment".
“Unlike now, Kerala had always been a tolerant state. The first mosque in the country was built here when Prophet Mohammed was alive. The local ruler gave permission to a group of Arab traders who visited here and wanted to have a place of worship. Similarly, the first Syrian Christian church was built in Kerala,” said BJP Rajya Sabha member Balbir Punj while addressing the gathering.
“But now, the CPM-led government has shown an extreme form of intolerance. Even in the past, the second Sarsanghchalak of RSS, Guru Golwarkerji, was attacked in 1948 when he was addressing a public meet in Kerala. The CPM cadre has brutally killed many like Rajesh. It has to be stopped,” Punj added.
Sandeep Mahapatra, former JNU Students’ Union president from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Supreme Court counsel also expressed his view on the violence. He said violence purported in the name of caste, religion and ideology is a catastrophic distortion in our democracy which needs to be battled. It is akin to medievalism and acts as the enemy of modern democratic and liberal values. "When an Indian gets killed whether on the border or inside the country, he/she is an Indian and no discrimination should be made on the basis of religion, caste or political ideology, whether it’s Rajesh or Rohith Vemula," Mahapatra said.
Citing the recent Chandigarh stalking case of Varnika Kundu, Mahapatra said, “The stalking case is highly condemnable and everyone should raise voice against such crimes. But, why did the same people who condemned the Chandigarh incident, go silent on the brutal rape and murder of a minor girl in Shimla? Why did the same set of intellectuals who condemned the lynching of Junaid, remain silent in the case of Kashmir police officer Mohammed Ayub Pandith? Isn’t it an intellectual hypocrisy of taking a selective ideological stand?”
When the question of the Sangh taking a selective stand on such issues came up, an RSS functionary answered in negative. “RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwatji condemned lynching in the name of gau raksha. The Sangh issued a statement when Vemula committed suicide,” the functionary said.
Panchajanya — the Hindi weekly publication of the Sangh — had come up with a cover story on the ground realities in Kerala 'Kannur ke qaatil' ('Murderers of Kannur') in May 2016, which divulged details on how the CPM cadres attacked and killed RSS workers and others. The report drew the national media's attention in a big way.
“The movement ‘Where are you’ was initiated in Delhi and is aimed at creating public awareness on the Kerala atrocities and to question the so-called Left intellectuals about their selective stand. Several facts get buried in Kerala and fail to reach Delhi. These people who raise their voice in case of Vemula and Junaid, maintain a stoic silence when it comes to Rajesh or Jigisha. This is an attempt to polarise violence. Such elements shouldn’t have any place in the democracy,” remarked Hitesh Shankar, the editor of Panchajanya.
Rajkumar Falwaria, professor and deputy Proctor of Delhi University added, “If we see History, even in the past, the Communist never allowed any voice other than theirs and ruthlessly crushed those who had questioned them. Stalin allegedly killed 2 crore people and there are similar allegations of Mao in China. Something similar happened in Kerala too."
Falwaria went onto add,"CPM worker Chandrashekhar was killed when he questioned his party before quitting it. Now, due to active social media, such incidents are coming to the fore unlike in the past. In a democracy, the state has a moral obligation to operate in accordance with the letters and spirit of the Constitution. Violence is simply opposed to the survival and endurance of liberal democracy.”
Updated Date: Aug 10, 2017 22:43 PM