Statement issued after ‘Dastak’ convention
Recent months have seen an intensification of the drive by the Hindutva forces to sharpen the communal divide in our society, to subvert the secular foundations of our polity, and to suppress all opposition to their insidious designs. They have used their new-found access to political power towards this end, both directly through the use of the State machinery to achieve their objectives, and indirectly through ensuring State passivity in the face of their direct actions. While the Muslims had hitherto constituted their primary target, they have now unleashed a campaign against the Christian community as well, burning copies of the Bible, destroying churches and physically attacking members of the clergy. Even the Kabir Panthis have not been spared by them. They have let loose rampaging mobs against the exhibition of artistic works which they consider ‘offensive’, and have even attacked the homes of artists. Their spokesmen have engaged in the public vilification of academics and intellectuals whose views are different from theirs. They have used the government to pack premier academic and research-funding bodies like the ICHR, ICSSR, ICPR and the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, with persons whose sole distinction is their loyalty to the Sangh Parivar. They have changed curricula in government-run schools and compulsorily introduced the religious idiom, in forms such as Saraswati vandana/puja. Their pursuit of cultural homogeneity threatens to stifle the diversity of the country and disrupt the harmony of civil society.
The thrust of these efforts is not just against minorities, it is against democracy. In a world of Hindutva
ascendancy the ‘true Hindu’ has to be defined. Such a world therefore is necessarily fascistic, where empowerment of the people is replaced by concentration of power within a tiny coterie. Militarism and nuclear jingoism are being used for effecting a transition to such a world, which represents the complete negation of the achievements of the freedom struggle. It facilitates the imposition of imperialist dictates on our economy: the Hindutva elements themselves act as instruments of imperialism while the scope for popular resistance is snuffed out through social divisiveness and political authoritarianism. The only possible way that our society can advance is through a strengthening of democracy and secularism; the Hindutva forces which seek to reverse this and bring forth communal responses from other sections have to be combated.
Towards this end we propose to coordinate our activities with the democratic forces in South Asia and among the South Asian diaspora. This convention asks Sahmat and other like-minded organizations to initiate appropriate steps for giving effect to this endeavour.