We have gathered here today because exactly 20 years ago, a 400 year old historical monument was destroyed in Faizabad/ Ayodhya. This was followed by atrocities against the Muslims in Mumbai, Surat and other places. Their homes were burned and thousands were killed for no fault of theirs.
People tried to save the victims but not only did the administration refuse to help them, but the police sided with the murderers. People felt extremely powerless. They felt that the system does not work for their safety and security.
Many of us had come to this very place a month ago when we remembered the victims of another genocide. It is another instance of an issue of political nature in the form of assertion of national rights of Punjabis was converted into law and order problem. In the aftermath of assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, thousands of Sikhs were massacred in broad daylight. On 1st and 2nd November, it is estimated that one Sikh was killed every minute! Everywhere people tried to organise their self-defense, however, they were disarmed by the police in most cases. Curfew was used to prevent the victims from getting together, while the murderers were roaming without restrictions. People felt powerless.
Right next to us, there is a big debate going on in the Rajya Sabha. Whether or not FDI should be allowed in multibrand retail sector. In the previous two days, it was debated in Lok Sabha and passed. The ruling and opposition parties are presenting their arguments but there is no attempt to find out what the people think. The existing political system works to keep people away from the process of decision-making. And, once again, the people are feeling powerless.
The connection between communal violence and the economic policies is worth noting. When in 1984, the rulers had organised the genocide of the Sikhs, the big capitalist houses had decided to bring about a change in the economy to facilitate their becoming world-class players.
In the beginning of the decade of 90s, a lot of changes were brought about in the economy through the new economic policy. At that time the Indian economy was opened up for foreign capital in a big way so that the big capitalist houses could collaborate with the foreign capitalists and together enrich themselves through the exploitation of the land and labour of our country. This was precisely the time when Babri Masjid was demolished. In the aftermath, the established political parties created a poisonous atmosphere for the Muslims, after which, under the watchful eyes of the State, Muslims were targeted.
In 2002, the pogroms against the Muslims in Gujarat coincided with the launching of the second generation reforms.
These economic reforms imposed a heavy burden on the people. The exploitation of workers increased; many are forced to work for 10 to 12 hours a day. Farmers are not able to make their ends meet in spite of toiling hard. People have been opposing the attacks on them through the economic reforms. It has been proven that the Indian state uses communal violence to break the unity of the people and to divert their opposition to the economic reforms.
Life experience shows that it is the big parliamentary parties and agencies of the state that are responsible for communal violence. The administration is not interested in ensuring that those guilty of these criminal activities are punished. If there is public pressure, then the government takes some half-hearted steps but it is only to buy more time. Liberhan commission was constituted to investigate the demolition of the Babri masjid. It took 17 years to submit its report and the government has not even thought it necessary to implement its recommendations. Similarly, those who actually killed and those who organised the 1984 massacre, have been shielded in one way or another. Therefore, it is essential that people keep up the pressure to demand punishment to the guilty.
The state divides the people to works in the interest of a tiny fraction of the population. The demonstration today is very important since people have come together irrespective of their religions, caste or other differences to demand in one voice that the guilty are punished.
Our experience shows that the system is an instrument to keep people deprived of political power. Those who target the people are able to get away using the institutions of the State and the laws. We need to carry out a navnirman of our country so that political power is vested in the people. Only then can human and national rights, and livelihood of the people can be guaranteed. Only then will those who commit crimes against the people, be punished speedily so that no one will dare to do such criminal activities.
Come, let us unite to demand that the guilty are punished!