Azadi..from RSS, from the idea of Hindu Rashtra, say protestors

By Vijaya Pushkarna

“Inquilab Zindabad”

“Hum kya chahtein hai Azadi”

The last time one heard those slogans was in the Kashmir Valley many years ago. And before that in black and white celluloid films that had documented India’s freedom struggle.

They rent the air of the national capital today. No. Those who raised them were not seeking to secede from India, but wanting freedom from many things including the RSS, “gai-gobar” “Hindu Muslim”(divide) “manuvad”, “jativad” “Parivar” (Sangh Parivar), “Go Mootra” (Cow urine). All the slogans lustily raised by the youth was their fight against what some of them see a threat of  India turning  a “Hindu rashtra” , in the not so distant future.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have an adversary they simply cannot take on. Savitribai Phule who appears to have risen from ashes to do what she did way back.  She worked to educate women, and  fought to abolish discrimination and unfair treatment of people based on caste and gender. On Friday, she became the poster girl of protest.

A  march by women, trans  and queer  communities to mark the birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule,  turned into yet another occasion  to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 –the CAA—and the National Register of Citizens cleared by the UPA government.

Interestingly, around the same time,  the Bharatiya Janata Party president and Home Minister Amit Shah was addressing a rally in Jodhpur,  lambasting the Congress government in the state, alleging they were behind these protests. The BJP general secretary Ram Madhav was in Hyderabad,  presenting the government' s version of the unpopular law,  before students of the Osmania University.

     The placards they carried, and the slogans they raised showed it was an angry outburst of citizens against the government, for over a hundred different reasons.  The women, trans and queer communities were joined by hundreds of straight men, seemingly illiterate women, and even children.   Among  those who  gathered at Mandi House -- less than four kilometres from the Rashtrapati Bhavan --were Muslim men and women, there were all kinds of professionals. The   banners too belonged to many groups, including people from the North East. 

The public anger was over everything going wrong –from damage to the social fabric of India, to the mess that the economy is in, from the police lathis in campuses to surveillance of digital activites.                                                

Says Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, “I think there is a lot of anger against the government and there is a lot of people are recognizing the bigger picture here. That what is happening is that the government is failing to convince that it is working for welfare, and is doing just the opposite And people are getting increasingly angry about unemployment and economic distress and all of that.”

According to her, “the Muslims are leading the way because the government is openly hostile to them.  But other sections are saying , hello, you are honest to the Muslims and saying you want to kill them and evict them, but you are dishonest to  us because you are actually hostile to everyone. You want to turn us from citizens to subjects, to supplicants, and we are not going to let you do that.”

Kavita elaborates, “Now they are saying that on the basis of documents they are going to select the citizens of India .How can the government say that they are going to select which of you actually constitute citizens ? It is the citizens that elect the government.”

Kaushal, a 24-year old member of the TG community, studying for M Phil in Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, points out that the CAA is not just an attack on students at the Jamia Milia campus is not just an attack on Muslim students, as people tend to see it. “It is a larger issue. When the question of legality comes, there will be lots of communities that will not come under it (CAA). So it is also an all women per se, because if we look at   this—what will a Hindu rashtra do? It will become a family of a proper Brahmanical set up where a woman does not have a voice at all.”

Kaushal’s   apprehension:  then the queers might not even exist. “ Though they are not saying it very loud, the way Hitler said it, the ationality questions get very blurred when it comes to gender,” is how Kaushal imagines the future.

Firm in asserting that the CAA and the NRC are two steps towards the ruling party’s efforts to move in the direction that Savarkar would want them to, Kaushal  reasons that these laws would push “people into chambers called detention centre and rehab centres”. The worst impact will be on transgenders, according to Kaushal, who says , “In the implementation of the NRC in Assam , 2000 transwomen’s names were not in the list. Where will they go? To rehab centres or detention centres .So basically, where are we going?  Where are we heading to ?



Ironically, few people seemed to know about Savitribai Phule.

Wikipedia refers to her thus : Savitribai Phule (3 January 1831 – 10 March 1897) was an Indian social reformer, educationalist, and poet fromMaharashtra. She is regarded as the first female teacher of India. Along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule, she played an important role in improving women's rights in India. She is regarded as the mother of Indian feminism. Phule and her husband founded the first Indian girls' school in Pune, at Bhide wada in 1848.[a] She worked to abolish the discrimination and unfair treatment of people based on caste and gender. She is regarded as an important figure of the social reform movement in Maharashtra.
A philanthropist and an educationist, Phule was also a prolific Marathi writer.

SheThePeople, a handle of a feminist women’s channel tweeted : “If you are an Indian woman who reads, you owe her. If you are an educated Indian woman, you owe her. If you are an Indian schoolgirl reading this chapter in English, you owe her. If you are an educated international desi woman, you owe her”


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