The discussion was attended by a wide cross section of the people – students, teachers, workers, professors & researchers, lawyers & doctors, retired government officers & bureaucrats, human rights activists and representatives of parties, trade unions and various other organisations. The meeting was chaired by the President of LRS, Shri S. Raghavan and Ms. Sucharita.
Opening the meeting Shri Raghavan said that the topic of discussion had assumed special importance in the backdrop of increasing incidents of communal violence and attacks on people for their views. He said that India has had a long tradition of debating to find the truth and definite rules of debating could be found in the Nyaya Sutra. He encouraged everyone to share their views on the topic following the two simple rules – listen to the views of others and respect their views. He announced that before starting the discussion, a comprehensive and detailed power-point will be made LRS.
In the LRS presentation, using available data about the major occurance of communal violence in India, it was demonstrated that incidents of communal violence have been increasing over the decades after independence and that all parties at the helm of administration at the centre and state have allowed these to take place. In many cases the agencies of the Indian state were actively involved in abating and even organsing communal massacres.
The presentation traced the rise of communal violence in India and asserted that communal violence was unknown in India before the colonial rule. Through the views of British administrators and data, the presenter demonstrated that such "communal riots" were particularly used by the British colonialists whenever the opposition of the people to their oppressive rule escalated, such as in the aftermath of the Great Ghadar of 1857, after the rebellion in the British Indian army in 1915 and after the rebellion in the navy in the 1940s. Through many audio-visual clips, he showed that the government of independent India has continued to use this method to push through policies that have caused great hardship to working people and serve the interest of a small minority of the industrialists and monopolies.
Through the presentation, the view that voting for the "secular parties" can eliminate the danger of communal violence was challenged. It was concluded that people have to bring about a democratic renewal of India by breaking with colonial legacy and learning from the progressive and demoncratic movements in India and the world.
There were two other presentations by Advocate Yusuff of Popular Front of India (Click here for the presentation) and by Shri Kashif from the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (Click here to view the presentation) relating to targeting of people by black laws like TADA, POTA, UAPA and AFSPA. Both presentations presented data that showed that these laws give enormous powers to the agencies of the state and permits them to victimize people who may have nothing to do with terrorism or unlawful activities. They pointed out that in spite of many provisions of these laws that makes it very difficult for the accused to defend himself, there have been very few convictions. This showed the draconian and fascist nature of these laws.
In his intervention, Com. Rajiv Dimri from CPI ML (Liberation) said that not only has the colonial legacy continued but the Modi government is actually taking us back to Company Raj by offering major concessions to the corporate sector in terms of weakened labour laws, reduced tax liabilities and greater freedom for the flow of capital. He pointed to the various actions taken by Ministers of the current government like campaign against "love jihad", ban on beef and then ban on meat during festival seasons. These were designed to pit one section of the people against another. He also pointed out that the workers and peasants were opposing the economic course being adopted by the governments. He concluded by saying that only the workers and peasants can change the situation and stop the fascist attacks.
Dr. Sanjeev Chhiber of Naya Daur Party said that today the situation is grave and humanity stands at the edge of destruction. Elaborating on the communalisation that is being done for electoral gains, he said that BJP could not have won so many seats UP if they had not utilized the communal polarisation brought about by Muzaffarnagar violence. He said that in Bihar also, communal card is being played and calls are being given that Muslims should vote only for Muslims. He said that just as in a guitar, music comes alive only if all its strings work together, in the same way, real progress can be made only if people of all faiths and views unite and fight for everyone’s rights. He concluded his intervention by saying that the only way out for the people was a revolution – not anarchy or tod-phod, but the transformation of society.
Shri Yogesh of Naujawan Bharat Sabha pointed out that what is behind communal and fascist terror is the capitalist system. He stressed on the need to go amongst the masses of ordinary people and expose the anti-people course of development. He said that people should be organised at the ground level and we have to strengthen a sanjha morcha to counter the growing communal and fascist terror.
Comrade Prakash Rao of the Communist Ghadar Party of India pointed out that there can be various identities of the people. The colonial rulers and the present Indian State emphasise one aspect of the identity. But these identities change over time. He explained that secularism was linked to the movement for enlightenment, that is, combating the old thinking. Those who divide the people or talk of historical revenge can never be secular. Neither can any force that supports the capitalist or imperialist system be secular. He pointed out that RSS is not running the government, but it is the capitalist class. The capitalist class is the enemy of progress and well-being of the people and gives rise to communal and fascist organisations. Referring to Advocate Yusuff’s presentation, he agreed that UAPA was brought in the backdrop of rising revolt of the peasantry during the Naxalbari struggle. He emphasised that the Indian State is communal and needs the parties that communally divide the people. That is why those who organise the communal massacres are never punished. He concluded by saying that there were only two trends – the revolutionary trend that wants to empower the people and the reactionary trend that wants to keep the people in subjugation and preserve the status quo.
Shri M M Kashyap, Advocate of Supreme Court related his concern at the time of Babri Masjid demolition. He was most concerned that the demolition should not lead to violence. He said that the whole campaign was spearheaded by political parties, who had no interest of the people. He said that we have to look at everyone as human first, all of who need roti to survive.
Shri Alok of Majdoor Ekta Kendra talked about the extreme hardships faced by the toiling sections of the people who are deprived of quality food, healthcare and other basic necessities. So, our identity as worker is what can unite us to struggle for these. On the other hand our identity as a member of a religious community goes to weaken our struggle. He said that if the Preamble of the Constitution were to be written truthfully, it should have said, "We, the 10% of the people of India, communally elected to Constituent Assembly, impose this constitution on the whole of India without in anyway consulting them …" Contrasting the situation after 1947 and now, he opined that the capitalist class has united itself and is launching fascist attacks on the working class using communal organisations that divide the people. Only when the working class emerges as a united force at all India level, will we be able to combat communal and fascist terror of the capitalist class, he concluded.
Adv Aslam of SDPI pointed out that there are no Hindu-Muslim riots because the same two sets of people take tea together in their area. Commissions of inquiry have identified police to be guilty in allowing violence to take place. It is well known that a riot cannot last if the administration and the police did not want it. He concluded by saying that communal violence will stop if the guilty were punished. If those guilty for organising 1984 massacre had been punished then the massacre of 2002 would not have taken place.
Ms. Vimala said that women are made the target of communal and fascist terror as they are seen as weak. She called for unity of the women so that women will be recognised a strong force to combat communal and fascist terror.
More than a dozen other participants intervened with their views and questions throughout the discussion and kept the discussion lively.
While summing up the discussion, Shri Raghavan pointed out that we have to defeat the lying propaganada of the ruling elite that people are communal. The discussion has helped in looking at the issue of the source of communal violence in an all-sided manner and from different perspectives. This will help us to take the message to the people and prove convincingly that it is the Indian State and its institutions and Constitution which are communal from head to toe.
In the end, the following resolution was unanimously adopted.
We, who have gathered in New Delhi for the public discussion on "Combat the growing communal and fascist terror" on 20th September 2015, having discussed the issue of growing communal violence and attack on the right to conscience, resolve to:
The meeting was concluded by Ms. Sucharita who called on everyone to take the discussion widely among the people, to the schools, colleges and universities, among the students and youth, in residential areas and at workplaces. On behalf of Lok Raj Sangathan, she called on all organisations and individuals working in defence of the rights of the people and for people’s empowerment, to widely discuss the issue and come up with proposals on how to strengthen our unity in the face of the growing communal and fascist terror.