By Pervez Bari
New Delhi: It could have well been a slow winding September Sunday afternoon shrouded in the cloudy weather of Delhi, but something was more vibrant than that was erupting in Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. After a sleepless night by the volunteers who had tirelessly worked to meticulously set up the stage and venue from where the participants were to speak the next day about protecting our nation from its present state of deterioration and despair.
The untiring efforts of one and all of Popular Front of India in organising the People’s Right Conference bore fruits as in the assemblage of several thousand people’s faces were lit with confidence and determination to face the prevailing ordeal unleashed by the ruling class in North India with their heads up as they trooped out of the stadium after the marathon programme. The conference in fact boosted the drooping morale of minorities & Dalits. The conference was organised by the North Zone of Popular Front of India.
The thunderous applause by the audience was proof of this when E. Abubacker, Chairman of Popular Front of India, (PFI), presented in his own unique style the current state of affairs. His rhetoric were refreshing and restored the faith of the masses in democracy, righteousness and capacity of our country to face any crisis, be it from within or from external forces. He expressed that all this was possible if the government took its citizenry into confidence rather than isolate them like in the sudden move in dealing with Kashmir. He concluded taking lessons from the “real” Father of the Nation (Mahatma Gandhi and not as US President Donald Trump describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “Father of the Nation”) who had lost two of his teeth to protect his dignity, we are ready to lose all our teeth to achieve our life free from fear, and full of dignity.
In his inaugural speech E. Abubacker said that hate environment is pervading in the country following the fascist policies of the present government. At present the Hindutva forces have inculcated hate among caste Hindus against Dalits, and among Hindus against Muslims. He said that ever since Modi Government came to power we have been hearing big slogans. At one time it was “Congress Mukt Bharat”. Now it is “One country, one party”. Later on it will turn out to be “One party, One Ruler”.
Abubacker also came down heavily on the slogans of “one nation and one language” and “one nation and one law”. We are witnessing the dire consequence of such slogans, in what is happening in Kashmir after the abrogation of the Article 370, he pointed out.
Continuing, he touched upon a host of pressing issues and policies including lynching, polarization, hatred, NRC, Kashmir, Babri Masjid and draconian legislations etc. He said the economy is going downward while the government has failed on all fronts. He said the government has no clue how to overcome the economic crisis. He said we do not need to worry more about the fascist regime as the politics of polarization and Hindutva is on the wane.
Meanwhile, Anis Ahmad, National secretary, PFI, in his fiery speech exhorting the masses said: “The spectre of hate and fear engulfing the country can only be fought with a united struggle against fascism in order to protect our constitutional rights and the pluralistic culture of the nation. We should not be foolish enough to dream that fascist forces can be tamed by appeasing them, if we can learn lessons from the past and present. On the other hand, building alliances with those forces that are against communal fascism will be recorded in history as the wisest mission undertaken by our generation”.
Anis Ahmed while delivering the keynote address exposed the din of nationalism unleashed by the ruling dispensation. In every sphere the government had failed – be it in economy, human rights of individuals, Civil rights of activists, law and order. Yes the Hindu is at threat, but not from anybody else, but from the BJP. Isn’t it sufficient proof that the Unnao rape victim is recovering in the ICU, having lost her father to police torture and mother in a suspicious accident? Strengthening of draconian laws and investigation agencies is not for protecting the nation, but to assist the rulers in implementing their purported nefarious agenda. The role of the decimated Opposition has also been dismal in protecting the ruled class of people from its own rulers. NRC is the next big fear that is being marketed by the BJP. Who is anybody to question our love for our country, our credentials, our birth or our domicile? Only a strong bond of brotherhood amongst us, irrespective of our religion, caste or creed can take on the oppressors. He assured that Popular Front will support every struggle against any atrocity.
Anis Ahmed pointed out the difference between 2014 elections and 2019 stating that the BJP had relied on fake promises for coming to power in 2014 but it sought vote in 2019 only by polarising Hindus. Referring to Triple Talaq bill, he said, the government is not sincere about the women safety citing the recent rape cases against BJP leaders.
New Delhi Declaration
Meanwhile, during the People’s Right Conference nine-point New Delhi Declaration which highlighted the demands from this conference was announced by M. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, national general secretary, PFI. The acceptance of these demands by delegates attending the conference was indicated by raising their index finger which chanting the theme of the conference “Live without Fear, Live with Dignity“.
This People’s Rights Conference demanded the government to withdraw from all moves that infringes people’s rights, discriminates among people and denies justice to minorities and weaker sections. “This conference reminds all sections of the society of their fundamental right to Live without Fear and Live with Dignity and of their responsibility to join hands to defeat communal, fascist and sectarian forces.”
The Declaration said the hasty steps taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs to make inoperative Article 370 and 35A and massive deployment of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and demotion of the autonomous state to mere union territory have made the province into an open sky prison. Reports coming from the Valley say that thousands are in jail including children, and that the security forces are conducting night raids and picking up people and torturing them. The officially condoned violence in the valley has morphed into myriad forms unreported by the submissive Indian media, the Declaration stated.
The Declaration also said the Babri Masjid was built in Ayodhya by Muslims in 1528 and they were offering prayers till the forceful and unlawful installation of deities in the Masjid in 1949. The ongoing Ayodhya case in the Supreme Court is to decide the ownership of the Masjid property which was later illegally demolished by the Hindutva forces in 1992. Hence justice lies in rebuilding the Babri Masjid on the same site and punishing all the culprits responsible for demolition. As in the case of any other title suit, this case has to be adjudged on the basis of facts on record and not on the basis of the religious beliefs and sentiments of either party. According to religion and law of Islam, it is learned that no individual or group has authority to hand over a Masjid property, the ownership of which originally belongs to Allah alone.
Dr. Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, Shahi Imam of Fathehpur Masjid in Delhi, exhorted people to a life of sacrifice for the protection of their honour and that of our fellow citizens. He cited example of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalaam whose contribution cannot be ignored. He assured the gathering that we will never abandon the cause of our country, be it on our own or under force by any agency or government. He said it is naive for the government to think that its intentions are not noticeable. The whole world is observing and cannot be distracted from the truth; however, much the local media may suppress it.
He said attempts have been made to cow down the Muslim community but they won’t succeed in it. He underlined the sacrifices and contributions of Muslims in building the country. He said unity and harmony cannot be achieved by ignoring minorities and weaker sections.
Hindutva terrorism is the real danger
Mahant Yugal Kishore Sharan Shastri from Ayodhya said “Hindutva terrorism is the real danger to unity and integrity of India.” Criticizing the mob-lynching incidents, Yugal Shastri suggested that we should resist mob-lynching. He also criticized the government action on Kashmir saying it has alienated the people of Kashmir further.
Shastri welcomed the Popular Front of India as a predominantly south-based organisation from Kerala, which is bringing to the whole nation the message of a peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic society from where it originates. He said he has always worked against the fake agenda of the Sangh Parivar and distinctly separated it from Hinduism.Professor Dr. Baljinder Singh of Khalsa College, Amritsar, spoke of the pluralistic nature of our country and was reminiscent of Muslim Sikh unity in times of crises. He made the assemblage to raise the slogan “Sikh-Muslim Bhaichara Zindabad,” a number of times. He criticized the government for the revocation of the Article 370 and 35A. He said the Article 370 was the bridge between Jammu & Kashmir and India but the incompetent rulers have scrapped it without realizing its consequences. He urged the gathering to stand up against repression and tyranny. He mentioned about how the Sikh community had helped helpless Kashmiri girls reach their homes from Pune for Eid-ul-Adha and pledged to continue such acts of brotherhood.
Maulana Khalil-ur-Rahman Sajjad Nomami, the renowned Muslim cleric, who is ill, could not make to the conference venue but in a pre-recorded video message said the country is passing through a critical phase. We need to take up the issues of the people. He appealed for unity and pledged support to Popular Front of India in all its endeavours.
Mrs. Mehrunnisa Khan, National President of Women India Movement, (WIM), addressed the gathering highlighting the role of women in revolutionary movements. She appraised the spark of dignity set alight by Popular Front of India and said this will fire up flames which will brighten up lives of common man with security, justice and freedom. The large presence of women among the audience was exhilarated by her courage and the flags fluttered in the packed women’s gallery.
Lubna Siraj, vice president of National Women’s Front, spoke with extraordinary courage on women’s issues. She emphasised the need to stand up against all odds. The plight of Kashmiri women after the clamp down and the large presence of army in the valley were adding to this environment of fear. “Beti Bachao” has become a mockery under the BJP government, she thundered.
Adv. Sharafuddin Ahmed, national vice-president Social Democratic Party of India, (SDPI), narrated his findings from a recently concluded tour of Kashmir where the rule of law was being replaced by military rule.
He highlighted the difficulties being faced by 11,000 depositors who invested their hard earned money along with their faith in Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank. Today the RBI is looking away from these woes stricken people. He said it is a matter of grave concern that India’s debt burden has risen to Rs.88 lakh crore while thousands of crores have sunk in bank frauds. He presented the data on economic downslide and bank frauds to buttress his point. He said the government has failed on all fronts. He accused the government of using emotional issues to divert the attention of public from the real and pressing issues.
Ashok Bharati, the Principal Advisor of National Confederation of Dalit Adivasi Organisations (NACDAOR), the apex body of Dalit Organisations in India pledged support of Dalits and Adivasis, while recounting atrocities on Dalits and tribals. He said there is a need of unity among minorities, Dalits and weaker sections for fighting Hindutva forces in the country. In his high voltage conclusion he said that the demolishers of Babri Masjid are the real enemies of the nation, and they need to be punished before anything else. They first demolished Babri Masjid and now Ravidas Mandir in Delhi.
Mohammed Shakif, president, Karnataka State, PFI, presented the conclusion and the vote of thanks was proposed by Mohammed Ilyas, Delhi State Secretary, Popular Front of India and Programme Convener.
At the outset flag of Popular Front was hoisted by National Secretary of PFI Abdul Wahid Sait and the programme started with Unity song “Saare Jahan Se Achcha……..”
Meanwhile, at the outset Anis Ansari, Zonal Secretary PFI welcomed the guests and the huge assemblage. A. S. Ismail, zonal president PFI who presided over the programme, delivered his presidential speech.
Others who spoke on the occasion included: S. M. Anwar Hussain (ex-president, AMU Students Union); M. S. Sajid (national president, Campus Front of India); Mufti Hanif Ahrar Qasmi (national general Secretary, All India Imams Council).
Meanwhile, it may be mentioned here that the continuous swaying of Popular Front flags and intermittent sloganeering was sufficient evidence that every point of the speakers was connecting directly to their hearts.