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Friday, February 21, 2020

India- Anti-Saffron Fascism Resistance against the NCR, CAA and NPR laws

By Harsh Thakor

On 16th of February the scenes at Malerkotla grain market in Sangrur District in Punjab were reminiscent of a deluge or a torrent in a rally comprising 12 organizations protesting the National Register of Citizens (NCR), Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) and National Population Register (NPR). A huge contingent of over one lakh people from all over the state which mainly comprised the peasantry stormed into the venue creating a true festival of the masses. They shimmered the spark of anti-saffron fascist resistance converting it into a prairie fire. I was privileged to witness one of the best organized rallies ever in the history of the country confronting the dictates of Hindutva fascism. Discipline was exhibited at its crescendo resembling a huge well-knit army preparing for war with langars (food stalls) set up and security arrangements. The youth built a security barricade around the stage, keeping a continuous vigil aimed at every area to obstruct any incident which could escalate violence. Heartening was that half the participants constituted women. Arguably nowhere in the country has a rally exhibited such correct revolutionary democratic approach in challenging NRC, CAA or NPR with revolutionary class politics; or proletarian class unity. Every toiling section of the people was represented be it peasantry, agricultural labourers, government employees, industrial workers, youth, students and women. Very rarely in the history of the country has there ever been such a show of unity of the working class and the peasantry with the oppressed minorities confronting Hindutva fascism as here. In recent months in the whole country has the sword of struggle sharpened so much for the abolishing of the NRC, CAA or NPR laws. What must never be forgotten was the painstaking preparations done to mobilize people for the 16th of February rally in so many regions of the state. Great energy was deployed in educating different sections of the toiling people and relating the issue to the day to day class struggles. Posters were stuck and pamphlets distributed all over, virtually painting the towns. A spate of marches or assembly meetings were held with the students and youth playing a most important role. Impactful educational sessions were held at Rajendra College Bathinda and other regions of Malwa like Bagike, Kotaguru,Gudda ,Nathapura, Kalyan and Harepura by Punjab Students Union(Shaheed Randhawa) and Naujwan Bharat Sabha and by Punjab Students Union(Lalkar) in campuses of Ludhiana and Sangrur. Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union held a rally in Muktsar while BKU(Ugrahan) and Dakaunda encompassed a huge range of regions like a river flowing. The deep inroads of mass political work are what shaped the sweeping success of the rally. Malerkota has been a bastion for the Muslim community in Punjab and though many lives were lost in partition it still has a historic secular tradition. I can't express how touched I was seeing the depth of enthusiasm amongst the Muslim women who in the conclusion converged together on the Pandal chanting slogans condemning the NRC. It spoke volumes of the meticulous political work by the participant organizations who left no stone unturned. Vibrations of Shaheed Bhagat Singh's spirit was resurrected, with the great secular tradition of Malerkotla, even in partition days when Hindus and Sikhs saved thousands of Muslim lives. Anger simmered at its boiling point in the hearts of the participants against the Hindu saffron agenda for which I do not have an adjective to describe, the rally boosted the morale of the Muslim community and the toiling masses in their resolve to overthrow the NRC and CAA acts reflecting the determination of army to win a war. Igniting flame of secularism at its most intense point participants stated that till their last tooth they would fight against Muslim citizens being incorporated with NRC Status. Significant how the Jamat Islamia or other Muslim Organizations could identify with the democratic secular aspirations of the democratic mass organizations of Punjab and in no uncertain terms praised their aims and work. Slogans were raised ‘Never again any 1947', 'no more attacks on our brotherhood’, ‘Death to Fascism’ etc demanded vociferously that the Narendra Modi Government should repeal these black fascist laws. "Different delegations from Shaheen Bagh, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi and ‘Karvan-e- Muhabbat’( Caravan of Love) also participated in the rally. The gathering unanimously pledged that they will not allow the malevolent RSS-BJP government in the centre to divide the country on religious lines and flare up ultra nationalism and hence crush the democratic rights, incite religious riots and loot people. The gathering was addressed by Joginder Singh, president of BKU Ekta Ugrahan, Boota Singh Burj Gill , president of BKU ( Ekta Dakaunda) , Rajwinder Singh, president of Textile Hosiery Kamgar Union, Kanwaljeet Singh Pannu, convener of Kisan Sangharsh Committee Punjab, Lachhman Singh Sevewala from Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, Hushiar Singh from PSU ( Shaheed Randhawa), Gurpreet Singh, State convener from PSU ( Lalkar), Surinder Singh from Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendar, Harjinder from Moulder and Steel Worker Union, Lakhwinder Singh from Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Women and Farmer leader Harinder Bindoo, Women peasant leader Amarjit Kaur of Kisan Union(Dakaunda), Naujwan Bharat Sabha ( Lalkar) leader Namita, Naujwan Bharat Sabha leader Ashwani Ghudda, Harsha Singh from Inquilabi Naujwan Vidyarthi Munch. Apart from above mentioned leaders, the leading intellectual Harsh Mander from Jamia Milia Islamia and student leader Saif- ul – Islam, Tamur from Shaheen Bagh, Professor Jagmohan Singh, Pramod from TSU, Parminder from Desh Bhagat Yadgaari Committee Jalandhar, Rajinder Bhadaud from Taraksheel Society, Amolak Singh from Pulse Manch, Abdul Shakoor and Shagufta Yawer from Jamaat e Islami Punjab, and Kulwant Singh from Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Gurnam Singh Daud from Dihati Mazdoor Sabha also addressed the rally. The noticeable point is that the speakers touched the burning issues of the people and the strategy incorporated by the BJP rulers to divide the people and divert them through acts like NRC. In depth they touched upon how the Muslims community for decades was targeted, subjugated to discrimination or marginalization but now their suffering under the dictates of the Saffron fascists had reached a crescendo. They also exposed the naked collaboration of the Congress for decades with giving patronage to Saffron forces and only disguising themselves as secular. Even if some overtones were expressed sympathetic to Mahatma Gandhi opposing anti-Muslim attacks, in the main it opposed Gandhi and Nehru's approach to secularism, upholding the ideology of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Most of the leaders summed up the need for revolutionary day to day struggles to develop to confront saffron dictates and not just preaching communal brotherhood. Emphasis was placed that the seeds of what was happening was planted in 1947 itself which has aggrandized today. With examples they illustrated that no opposition party had any genuine secular agenda. Notable also how peasantry could connect the anti-NCR-NPR agitation with their burning issues facing them as a part of the anti-feudal or anti-imperialist struggle as a whole. The anti-people nature of globalization and privatization was summarized in connection with the motive of the ruling party to use religion to break the genuine people's struggles. A perfect illustration of how to build a bridge between the revolutionary class mass movement with that against oppression of Muslim minority without falling prey to identity politics. A major trend projected was the ideology of Shaheed Bhagat Singh with regard to caste, religion and class from an anti-feudal and anti-imperialistic perspective in contrast to the B.R. Ambedkar or Mahatma Gandhi. This event stitched a base to hit the Hindu saffron agenda at its hardest point by mobilizing every possible force in a united front. The labour of the working class, including the Muslims, was applauded as well as forces who were sharpening the s word in the struggle against liberalization, privatization and globalization. The patronage of loot of the corporate s was exposed They said that the real patriots of the country are those working people of all religions including Muslims who are contributing to the production in the country, those who are fighting to protect the secular foundations of the country, opposing privation, liberalization, globalization, as well as those who are guarding the resources of our country from the blatant loot by Adani-Ambani and other corporate families. In deep depth they defended the credibility of the Muslim minority to which they felt Modi made a scapegoat. The untold suffering caused by staged communal riots was touched upon, particularly the impact on women and working people. It was explained how none of the agenda of a 'Hindu nation" would benefit the Hindu people but instead even create a backward state where he Hindu working class and peasantry would be virtually stripped of all their basic democratic rights. The heroic resistance by the workers, peasantry, agricultural labourers, women, students and youth irrespective of their caste and religion was greatly praised which prevented communal riots. It was demanded that the CAA be repealed, NRC NPR be taken back and cases against the protesting people be withdrawn and arrested intellectuals and people be released, and that strict action should be taken against officers involved in brutal action in JNU, Jamia University and various other cities in the country. The masked goons who entered JNU should be arrested, strict action should be taken on Yogi Adityanath who incited people by chanting the “Goli Maaro” slogan, also action should be taken against top BJP leader Anurag Thakur and those Sanghi goons who fired at Jamia and Shaheen Bagh protesters, strict action e taken against those police personnel who kicked protesting women’s private parts and also those goons be indicted who physically abused Gargi College students, the detention camps across the country should be closed and the people there should be released. The NSA in Delhi as well as all other black laws should be repealed. In the rally a resolution was passed protesting the brutal onslaught on Kashmiri people and their forced arrests and draconian restrictions imposed on them and it was demanded that Section 370 and 35-A be repealed. Also a condolence motion was passed holding the local administration responsible for the death of four innocent children killed in yesterday’s bus fire incident at Longowal. At the conclusion all the leaders of participating Organizations declared that it would persist the campaign with a series of programes all over the state from February 24th through 29th to enable the spark of anti-NCR ,CAA-NPR resistance to continue sparkling and its spirit not diffusing. One of the most significant speeches was made by Harsh Mander from Delhi on what Shaheed Bhagat Singh would have felt and done today. He highlighted his childhood experiences in partition and how Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs lived as brothers. In depth Mander delved upon how the current acts totally contravened the secular India Bhagat Singh aspired for and linked the issue to the overall economic sufferings the masses were subjugated to.
“I appeal to all of you not to show any document when the officials knock at your doors for papers that will prove your citizenship of your own country. I wont show them any document and I will declare myself a Muslim, and let them detain me. I appeal to you all to do the same,” he said, to loud applause.
He raised the slogan, “Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai, aapas mein hai behen bhai’, and the crowds joined in. “Yes, the countrywide protests are successful because of our Muslim sisters,” Mander added. I am overjoyed that thousands of Bhagat Singhs have been resurrected to save the country." Harsh warned the people that NPR would facilitate the building of detention centers where conditions would be worse than prisons. Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of BKU (Ugrahan) alleged that “BJP was treacherously misleading the people of the country by allowing the big corporations to loot freely the water, forest, land and other rich natural resources in the name of patriotism.” Lachhman Singh Sewewala of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union announced on the occasion that the statewide protests would further intensify from February 24 to 29. “The people of Punjab won’t allow fascist forces to implement their agenda of ‘Hindutva’. We the people earlier held ourselves back on the government’s notorious and racial move of reading down the Article 370 in Kashmir, but we won’t sit quietly
now as the regime goes about finishing the country’s minorities, beginning with the Muslims,” Sewewala said.
Professor Jagmohan Singh, the nephew of Bhagat Singh, said it was often seen that citizens have been punished for violating the law or denigrating the country’s constitution—
“But it is the reverse now with rulers like Amit Shah and Modi maligning our country’s constitution and people protesting on roads to save the constitution,” the professor said.
 Punjab Lok Sabhyachark Manch president Amolak Singh echoed these sentiments. “The tirade of protests in Punjab will sustain for a very long period, to derail all the anti-people moves of the government, especially its communal agenda of targeting the Muslims. Harinder Bindu head of the Women's BKU wing made a touching speech on the aspect of oppression of women, particularly Muslims. It was touching seeing her solidarity with the Muslim women contingent at the conclusion. The youth were seen forming security rings around the stage, keeping a vigil all around to scuttle any incident which could escalate to violence. President of Indian Muslim League, Mahmud Ahmed Thindi felt that this rally was the most impactful against the NRC in a qualitative and qualitative sense, igniting the flame of resistance at a crescendo not reached anywhere else. He spoke volumes of the preparation marches of the groups; particularly the peasant groups and referred to how black laws destroyed the very sanctity of the constitution.

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