Mir Ayoob Ali Khan
Hyderabad: Teesta Setalvad, an illustrious civil rights activist and journalist, narrated a disturbing story during her recent visit to Hyderabad. She said, B.S Moonje, a politician having close ties with the RSS, wrote in his diary an incident which goes like this:
Once when he (Moonje) was driving past in a city, a Muslim man came running and requested him to stop. The Muslim who was wearing a cap said, “Namaste, Namaste Bhai Saab… Moonje stops his car or whatever (he was in)… This man says ‘Sahib Maar Kaat Chordo; Hum Hindu Banke Rahenge (Please stop killing; we will become Hindus and live in India).”
After penning down this incident Moonje said, “You know it’s (killing) not needed…To keep fear alive is the key. You don’t need to continue killing. Killing once in a while is okay; but just keep generating fear.”
After recounting this ‘documented’ episode Setalvad said, “That’s the politics of the RSS; to keep the population in a state of fear. Now this NRC (National Register of Citizens), I feel is doing just that. It has created a sense of further fear, even if the lynching were not enough…And that I think is a very very dangerous face of politics.”
Setalvad was in Hyderabad at the invitation of Siasat Urdu Daily to interact with the public about the effects of the NRC exercise on the nation. Speaking with siasat.com during a break she mainly touched upon three subjects:
- The follow up of 2002 Gujarat riots wherein she is credited with getting many perpetrators of pogrom against Muslims sentenced by courts of law.
- Working for the tribal people who are being denied their right to live in forests and
- The questionable methods of implementation of NRC in Assam.
She is also working through a recently formed organization to stem out extreme prejudices. ‘Hate Hatao’ campaign will go on full steam soon.
“We are working in Assam for the last two and a half years with a wonderfully dedicated team whose coordinator is Shamsher Ali. Over 700 volunteers are working in 19 districts. We want the people to make it to the list which is being prepared; counselling those who have failed to get registered and; also preparing people to face the Foreigners’ Tribunals…” she explained.
Quoting Mohammed Selim, a Member of Parliament and CPI-M leader from West Bengal, Teesta said that he has tabled a strong dissenting note in relation to CAB (Constitutional Amendment Bill) saying that the Bill is part of RSS’ unfinished agenda of the partition. “The CAB amendment aims at three countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh—which form the part of the Akhand Bharat idea.” People from these countries will be allowed to become citizens of India. “But what about the Ahmadias in Pakistan. What about the persecuted minorities in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and other countries?” she asked.
Setalvad who is also the Vice President of the All India Adivasis Union of people living in forests have to go through a difficult and elaborate process to prove their claim over lands where they have been living for long years.
The other issue related to forests is the handing over of large tracts of forest lands to Big Business Houses. “It’s a proto-fascist government. It wants to transfer public resources to private capital. It wants to actually make you and me fight as Hindus and Muslims and Christians. So we are too busy doing that living in a state of fear and hate, while it actually transfers its capital. The motive behind trying to dilute or delegitimize the FRA 2006 by the Modi regime is to be able to gift large tracts of this land to people like Ambanis and Adanis. And that’s really scary,” she said.
When asked whether there would be a repeat of 1992-1993 riots in Mumbai and 2002 Gujrat conflagration, she hoped the country would not face such horrible rounds of violence every 20 years. “But, God forbid, such a horrible thing would happen, it could be in Uttar Pradesh. The violence against minorities there could possibly get a response.”
Praising the minority communities for skirting flare-ups in spite of considerable provocation, she hoped they would continue to control their emotions. At the same, she said that constant targeting could lead to an escalation of violence. “Large sections of the minorities in the country are living in fear,” she added.