Rising Voices in India

Mir Mukhtar Ahmad

Mir Mukhtar Ahmad

In my childhood I was asked that , what you wish to become A Doctor, engineer or scientist , I boldly said , I want to become Indira Gandhi. These are the words of star parliamentarian Mahua Mitra from West Bengal of TMC. The general elections of 2019 gave a strong mandate to BJP, but from day one of their unexpected victory, fascism has started in every nook & corner of India. Whole indians have kept mum due to threats of unsafety. Even opposition parties are not playing their role. Genocide of 84 is being discussed everywhere, but Gujrat pogrom & Muzaffarnagar riots are least discussed as they belong to a particular community. Mahua Moitra points out 7 early signs of fascism seen in India. She started her speech quoting Maulana Azad, whose statue stands tall outside this great hall. He once said of this country that he was fighting to build. He said:
“It is India’s historic destiny that many human races and cultures should flow to her, finding a home in a respectable soil, and that many a caravan should find rest here. There are cultures, our languages, our poetry, our literature, our art, the innumerable happenings of our daily life shall bear the stands of our joined endeavour.” In her maiden speech in Parliament, Mahua Moitra circled Narendra Modi-led government on a host of issues and declared that “all the signs of early fascism” were visible in the country. Mahua Moitra said that nation has accepted mandate mandate of BJP & boldly added that “dissent is all the more important” today. Though several MP’s spoke on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address in the House was held in Parliament but Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra stole the limelight with her fiery speech opposing the Motion of Thanks on June 25. In her speech in Parliament, Mahua Moitra took on the government point-by-point despite many interruptions from the ruling benches. Mahua Moitra attacked the Narendra Modi-led government on a host of issues and declared that “all the signs of early fascism” were visible in the country today. In her speech, Mahua Moitra said that she “humbly accepted the mandate” in favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), adding “dissent is all the more important” today. Mahua Moitra said that dissent was important as there are no “natural checks and balances in the Lok Sabha” due to the Opposition’s shrunken strength and the ruling party’s unprecedented numbers. “It is the very nature of the overwhelmingness of this mandate, of the totality of this mandate, that makes it necessary for us to be heard today, for the voice of dissent to be heard today,” she said. Mahua Moitra also mentioned a poster on fascism put up in the lobby of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2017.
The poster highlights seven signs of early fascism. Mahua Moitra spoke about issues like dissent, religious freedom, and media control. She said that the Constitution, which each member of the House has “sworn to protect”, is “under threat today”. The BJP MPs trying to shout her down – Mahua Moitra may well have created a new path: of bringing the call out culture to Parliament. Described as Meemsahab the brave MP today seems poised to give it back to senior politicians in their own backyard. The male-dominated Indian Parliament has rarely seen its treasury benches called out so brazenly by a fellow woman MP, that took a first-timer, for their common act of interrupting and shouting down members on the mic. Mahua Moitra said, “You may say that ache din are here and that the sun will never set on the Indian Empire that it [the ruiling government] is seeking to build. But then, you are missing the signs. Only if you open your eyes, you will see there are signs everywhere that this country is being torn apart.” The seven signs of fascism that MP pointed out:
1. Nationalism searing into national fabric: The first sign is the BJP’s narrative of the “powerful and continuing nationalism” which is searing into “our national fabric”. The narrative was “superficial”, “xenophobic” and “narrow”. “It is the lust to divide, it is not a desire to unite,” she spoke about the contentious issue of the anti-immigration laws like the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. “Citizens are being thrown out of their homes and being called illegal immigrants. People who have lived in this country for 50 years are having to show a piece of paper to prove that they are Indians.” Mahua Moitra also took a jibe at the leaders of the ruling party and said, “In a country where ministers cannot produce degrees to show that they have graduated from college, you expect dispossessed poor people to show papers, to show that they belong to this country.” She also pointed out that there was no specific symbol or a test to prove allegiance to one’s nation. “There is no one symbol or there is no one slogan that can show any Indian that he is a patriot.
2. Disdain for human rights in government: Listing the second sign of fascism in the country, MP hit out at the ruling government for its alleged contempt for human rights, saying that a “resounding disdain” has permeated every level of government. “There is a ten-fold increase in the number of hate crime from 2014 to 2019. It is like a valuation of an e-commerce start up. There are forces in this country who are sitting there, just pushing these numbers up,” .The lynching of citizens in broad daylight is being condoned and gave examples of Pehlu Khan who was lynched in Rajasthan in 2017 and Tabrez Ansari who was lynched in Jharkhand last week. “The list is not stopping,.”
3. Subjugation and control of mass media: Unimaginable subjugation and controlling” of mass media today. Taking a jibe at PM Narendra Modi, Mahua Moitra said that five of the largest news media organisations in India today are either “indirectly controlled or indirectly indebted to one man in this country”. Mahua Moitra claimed that TV channels were broadcasting propaganda of the ruling party, as “coverage of every opposition party is cut out.” Mahua Moitra asked the government to come out with the numbers and the names of the media houses they are blocking out. She said the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry “employs over 120 people” just to monitor and control anti-government stories in media. Mahua Moitra also addressed the issue of fake news being spread in the country and said that the last Lok Sabha election was “fought not on farmer distress…or unemployment… but on Whatsapp, on fake news and on manipulating minds.” Mahua Moitra also accused the ruling government for lying and said, “You repeat and repeat a lie until it becomes the truth.” “I tell you that every time they put out one figure, one fact, that is not the truth. They are destroying the fabric of India.
4. Obsession with national security: The practice of parents scaring their children with the idea of a black ghost to keep them in line. It is as though all of us in this country are today in fear of nameless, shameless black ghost while adding that there is fear pervading everywhere. Achievements of the Army were being “usurped in the name of one man”. New enemies are being created every day”, while pointing out the irony that the number of killings of soldiers and terror attacks had increased since 2014. “There has been a 106 per cent increase in the death of Jawans in Kashmir.
5. Religion and Government intertwined in the country: The religion and government have become intertwined which is unheard of in the history of India. We have redefined what it means to be a citizen”. Mahua Moitra again brought to fore the NRC and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, and said, “We are making sure that it is only one community that is the target of anti-immigration laws.” Taking a jibe at the ruling government focusing on the Ram Mandir issue instead of so many other issues that plague our country, Mahua Moitra said, “Members of the Parliament are concerned mostly with 2.77 acres of Ram Janmabhoomi while (they seem to be unconcerned) by the 80 crore acre that makes India.
6.Disdain for intellectuals and the arts: Complete disdain for intellectuals and the arts” which she pointed out as the most dangerous one. Adding that there is a suppression of all dissent, Mahua Moitra said that funding was being cut for liberal education. She also said that scientific temperament is enshrined in Article 51 of the Constitution. “Everything we are doing is pushing India back to the dark ages. Secondary school textbooks are being manipulated and distorted in order to indoctrinate,” she said. She also accused the ruling government of not tolerating questions and suppressing the dissenting voices. “You do not even tolerate questioning let alone dissent. The spirit of dissent is integral to India. You cannot shackle us.
7. Erosion of independence in electoral system: Erosion of independence in electoral system”, noting how the Election Commission was used in the recent Lok Sabha polls. Mahua Moitra said that she did not question the mandate, but added that the Election Commission of India was being used to transfer key officials. Mahua Moitra also questioned why the Election Commission of India did not taken action against the amount of money spent during the Lok Sabha elections. “Rs 60,000 crores were spent during the Indian elections (this time) – 50% (of this amount) or Rs 27,000 crores by one party,” she said. She ended her speech by saying, “I have the right to disagree with your idea. Sanjay Singh Rajya Sabha MP of AAP while pointing towards to the treasury bench praised the role of Muslim freedom fighters in Independence of India. Mr Singh without naming any one said that which new India you want us live. In Jharkhand a man on accusation of theft is being murdered as he was a Muslim. You are splitting country on religious lines. You have problem of wearing skull cap, beard & on clothing. Had you been living in 1857, you would have disgraced the sacrifices of the bearded Ulemas who have fought British in freedom struggle of India. Do you want to know the history of freedom struggle of Muslims of India, read history of Ishfaqullah. When he was being taken to Faizabad Prison, he was asked by British police, the last wish he replied.
He reviewed the role of Ishfaqullah , the martryr of freedom struggle. Mr Singh in his address, while reading the role of Bahadur shah zafar’s children who were martyred in presence of their father. He was asked by British police officer to irritate him
Bahadur shah zafar replied
Brave Bahadur Shah Zafar didn’t give up. Todays history is being rewritten as per the directions of those, who were mute spectators at the time of freedom struggle. This is height. Mr Singh remembered the role of14000 Ulemas, who were hanged on daily basis by British from Delhi to Lahore. Not a single trunk of tree was left having hanging head of Ulema. He remembered that the first freedom struggle was started by Ulemas known as Resham ki Rumal Tehreek ( Silk Hanky Movement). He suggested treasury bench to read thought of Hinduism which says Vasdev Kutumb; universe is one. Which Mother will treat her children differently, for a mother every child is equivalent. Mother cares weak children more than the energetic one. What is the thought of Fascists is to differentiate among the children of mother India separately, Muslims, schedule casts or tribes & others separately for political gains. Mr Singh while addressing said that the Parliament house is not religious battle field of a particular party, but an institution of highest repute & justice to all. The treasury bench kept mum while listening to the MP. Those Fascists need to read the role of Muslim freedom fighters in Independence of India by Thompson ,who writes in his memoirs:
“From 1864 to 1867, the British government firmly resolved to eradicate all the ulema of India. These three years are one of the most heart-wrenching periods of Indian history. The British hanged 14000 ulema to death. From Chandi Chowk of Delhi up to Khaibar, not a single tree was spared the neck of the ulema. The ulema were wrapped in pig-skin and hurled alive into blazing furnaces. Their bodies were branded with hot copper rods. They used to be made to stand on the backs of elephants and tied to high trees. The elephants would then be driven away and they would be left hanging by their necks. A makeshift gallow was set up in the courtyard of the Shahi Mosque of Lahore and each day up to eighty ulema were hanged. The ulema were at times wrapped up in sacks and dumped into the Rawi river of Lahore after which a hail of bullets would be pumped into each sack.”
He writes further; “As I got into my camp at Delhi, I perceived a stench of putrefied flesh. As I stepped out and went behind my camp, I saw a blazing fire of live coals. I saw a group of forty nakedulema being led into the fire. As I was witnessing this scene, another group of forty ulemawere brought onto the field. Right before my eyes, their clothes were taken off their bodies. The English commander addressed them thus: O Molvies! Just as theseulema are being roasted over this fire, you will also be roasted. To save yourselves, just one of you must proclaim that you were not part of the 1857 uprising of freedom. I will release all of you the moment I hear just one of you affirming this.”
By the Lord who has created me! Not one of the ulema said any such thing. All of them were roasted over the fire and another group was also brought and roasted over the blazing fire. Not a single alim surrendered to the demands of the British.”
By 1867 not a single Islamic institute remained. One would be quite astonished to realize that in 1601 when the British arrived in India for trade, there were a thousand Islamic institutes in Delhi alone.

(The author is a social activist. Views are his personal & not of the institution he works for , contact at mir886dmh@gmail.com)

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