The panel consisted of Prof. B. Ananthanarayan and Dr. Sanjeewani Jain, LRS, Prof. Mansur Hasan, PUCL, Dr. Ramaswamy, PDF, Mr. S. S. Ray, Student Activist, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Chairing the event was Prof. N. Ramesh, PDF.
The Chair welcomed the gathering of about 40 persons of differing backgrounds, including students, intellectuals and professionals, social activists and workers. The Chair gave a lengthy introduction for the event, stating that the present situation has the appearance of being calm and that there seems to be a lull in the communal situation across the country. Nevertheless, he emphasized that it is important to carry on the struggle even in this situation.
B. Ananthanarayan presented a 10 minute introduction for the panel discussion, stating that the ends of justice for the victims of communal violence are far from being met, despite the recent Best Bakery judgment. He emphasized that the Communal Violence bill that is in parliament is possibly a ploy by the Congress led UPA Government to hijack the issue of justice for the victims from the citizens groups and other progressives sections that have been fighting for justice. He pointed out that all the parties that have been in power have used communal violence to divert the masses from addressing their common problems. No party is interested in according justice to the victims. He pointed out that one should not be lulled into a stupor in these seemingly peaceful times and hoped that the panel discussion would be an important step in deciding the future course of the struggle.
Sanjeewani Jain was the principal presenter for the evening. The presentation began with a review of the recent slander campaign against Muslims in general, including the imperialist campaign of the USA, the attempt to pin the blame of the March 2006 bomb blasts in Varanasi on nameless and faceless Islamic terror groups. In a detailed discussion, continuing with a review of the recent history of communal violence including the 1984 anti-Sikh violence, the 1992 Babri Masjid incidents, the Bombay riots and the recent Gujarat carnage of 2002, she went into the history of communal violence in the country, tracing its past to the British policy of `divide and rule’. The present day rulers of India, which is principally the big capitalist class, also adopt the same techniques to keep the population of India in a state of disunity and disorientation. Several examples were provided to illustrate the point. The presentation led up to the question of what is one to do in this situation. It was emphasized that one should not look at an isolated phenomenon such as communalism in itself, but in relation to the sum total of the reality of the country.
The dangers of leading the people into accepting the Congress as a ‘lesser evil’ in relation to the greater evil of the BJP was dealt with at length. It was pointed out that every single communal carnage in the country is preceded by a hate campaign, followed by a targeted attack at vulnerable sections. There is direct evidence of the involvement of the state machinery in all these events. The presentation emphasized that a broad participation of progressive forces is needed to determine what kind of state machinery should come into place that will ensure sukh and Suraksha for the people of the country.
The other panelists mentioned their general agreement on the need to combat communalism, providing examples from India and other parts of the world. The need to involve the scientific community to fight on the side of rationality was also emphasized. It was pointed out that targeting minorities is a violation of human rights.
There were various interjections from the floor with participants presenting their views. LRS representative from Chennai who was present at the meeting reiterated that in the present situation, great clarity of the general line is needed and further elaboration is required. He pointed out that the British had created a class in whose interest it was for the British rule to continue, and that it is the same class that is now in power, which uses the same tactics to continue its rule. He further emphasized that creative methods are required today to advance the path to the power of the people, which is the only way in which the people of India can master their destiny.