Over 350 Acadamics Issue Statement on the anti-Muslim pogrom in Delhi

March 4, 2020

Over last few months we have witnessed a reawakening of the democratic ethos led by Muslim women all across the country.  These near-uninterrupted protests against the passage of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and it’s bigoted twins, the NPR and NRC, have clearly not gone down well with the BJP government, and many attempts have been made at demonising and discrediting the protesters.

The culmination of this barrage of vile and hateful propaganda was when BJP leader Kapil Mishra issued an ultimatum to the protesters in Delhi on 23 February, 2020 warning of the dire consequences that were to follow if the protest sites were not cleared.  He did so in the presence of a senior police officer. This was followed the same afternoon by an eruption of violence instigated by fanatical right-wing mobs in the areas of Jafrabad and Maujpur. The violence quickly spread to other parts of north east Delhi [1], and the death toll has risen to over 40 [2].

Courageous reportage and heart-breaking eyewitness accounts of the affected areas paint a very clear picture of the nature of this violence: it is anti-Muslim, and are not, as the mainstream media has continued to paint it, composed of “clashes” between “pro-CAA” and anti-CAA camps. Extremist Hindutva rioters mobilised by upper-caste leaders have run amok in the national capital, setting fire to and vandalising cars and shops and homes belonging to Muslim families, and also schools and mosques [3], all the while mercilessly brutalising Muslim residents of these areas [4].

It is clear to us that this comprehensive breakdown of law and order, which comes on the heels of the sickening attacks on students in Jamia, AMU, and JNU, is happening with the complicity of the Delhi police, who are acting in near-perfect coordination with the right-wing mobs, either by actively assisting them or by turning a blind eye to their actions [5]. We also regard it as no coincidence that the Delhi High Court judge who called the Delhi police to account for its willful inaction was transferred on the same day he held the emergency hearings [6]. We are, in short, witnessing the unfolding of an anti-Muslim pogrom in Delhi, with eerily familiar echoes of the modus operandi deployed by the RSS and it’s affiliates eighteen years ago in Gujarat, and more recently in Uttar Pradesh [7].

The violence has claimed the lives of many innocents, most of them from marginalised sections of society, including daily wage labourers, auto-rickshaw drivers, a police head constable, and an intelligence official. There have been deaths across religious divides. We place the blame for all these deaths squarely on the fascist upper-caste Hindutva forces who have orchestrated this pogrom. We also emphatically appeal to fellow progressive-minded individuals to recognise that there is a world of a difference between the violence of these fanatical mobs and attempts made to defend one’s life, family, home, and livelihood against this violence. We stand firmly in solidarity with the affected families in this regard—there are no two sides to this story, there is no nuance, only senseless violence fuelled by the communal agenda of the upper-caste Hindu right-wing.

We, the undersigned academics, condemn in the strongest possible terms those aiding or abetting the various indignities visited on Muslim men and women in Delhi by these right-wing terrorists affiliated to the RSS and sister organisations.

We also protest the reprehensible manner in which this government has conducted itself, by dropping all pretense of functioning in a democratic manner and acting blatantly as a ministry run by the RSS.

We demand that a judicial inquiry be set up to investigate the actions of the Delhi police, as reportage, video footage, and eyewitness accounts clearly point to their complicity in the violence.

We appeal to the judiciary to ban terrorist organisations like the Bajrang Dal which, as always, were at the forefront of this pogrom and which have been emboldened under the Modi regime.

We finally demand that the state immediately and adequately compensate those whose houses, shops, and livelihoods have been destroyed.

[1]: Hindu supremacist mobs orchestrate violence against Muslims where BJP won in Delhi elections | The Caravan

[2]: Delhi riots: Death toll rises to 42, 148 FIRs registered | The Economic Times

[3]: Delhi violence: Three mosques targeted, school burnt, shops & homes looted | The Indian Express

[4]: Hindu mobs terrorise Vijay Park’s residents | The Caravan

[5]: Delhi violence: Cops shouted “Jai Shri Ram” with armed Hindu mob, charged at Muslims | The Caravan

[6]: HC Judge Who Pulled Up Delhi Police Over Riots Shunted Out by Modi Govt | The Wire

[7]: Why Delhi violence has echoes of the Gujarat riots | BBC News

Signatories

See the statement for the full list.

This statement appeared on the Countercurrents website on March 2, 2020 here.

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