Responses to Sabrang’s election alerts
In the six weeks that the Sabrang team was monitoring the media at election time, 18 alerts were sent out to secular political parties, individuals and organisations on our extensive mailing list and the media. These included: an alert on Dalit and gender issues, a factsheet on the government’s lapses on Kargil, performances of saffron government’s in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. And, critically, the issue of life and security of all sections including minorities — a basic democratic right that was violated twice over in Orissa with a Muslim trader and a Christian priest being killed for their faith in the midst of campaigneering, allegedly by Dara Singh, the man behind the gruesome Staines’ murders.
One particular alert that highlighted the remarks of Sardar Patel, India’s first home minister, on the celebratory attitude of the cadres of the RSS in the days immediately following Gandhiji’s assassination was widely circulated among young NRIs abroad.
Another that highlighted the issue of crimes and violence against women under BJP rule in the backdrop of the Hindu Right’s attitude to women generated an interesting exchange among our readers. We thought the issues that it raised should be shared and discussed. With this in mind, we are sharing some reactions to Sabrang’s election-time alerts with you.
Thank you very much for your
Sabrang Alert mail it should really be called India Alert mail!
In my own little way I have been trying to oppose the evil designs of the Killer Sanghis. Especially now when they are shamelessly seeking approval from the descendents of the very man they killed 51 years ago, the Mahatma. And I refer to the shameless opportunism of my aunts Sumitra Kulkarni and her sister Usha Gokani new converts to the Sangh Parivar. I think you should expose them too.
I have been following your campaign against the Sanghis in the papers. I think the time has come when all of us who feel similarly about our beloved motherland came together to fight the Sanghis and the Neosanghis like George Fernandes and Sumitra Kulkarni.
Please feel free to delegate work to me and consider me as a comrade in arms in the crusade to save over beloved Bharatmata from her Kapoots, the Sanghis.
Tushar A. Gandhi
So what if we can’t keep them out this time?
Just to tell you that you have done a remarkable task. We have been reading and using the Alerts — just being able to access the facts is critically important — and for me as an educator, whether or not we are able to keep them out of power this time around — it is this kind of educational activity which we must intensify and broaden if we are truly to build up an aware and a discriminating democracy in which people will seriously think through these issues and see through these lies before casting their vote.
This is surely the kind of work that has to go on silently, continuously, relentlessly, and commitedly — in every school, community — and not only in time for an election. This is just the beginning of an ongoing battle — and this is the battle which fascism wages without qualms for control of the uncritical mind and more so to keep the minds uncritical. Our task — a harder one no doubt — is to truly keep struggling to open up the minds in a very different sense — and build a critical mass of critically able minds!
Lalitha and (admiral) Ramdas
The problem lies in the diaspora
Iam glad someone is taking a stand against communalism. I wish you all the best. Would be glad to do what I can from here. The real problem is here and in the Diaspora. The RSS has gone out into the world to enrol Indians and get their money for their work in India. I would say more than 60 per cent of the Hindus in the United States and about 80 per cent in the rest of the world outside India are supporters of the RSS and the Hindu Right. They give them millions of dollars. It is more difficult to deal with these people than those in India.
Confusion in secular camp is the real worry
Please allow me to convey my deep appreciation for the manner in which you carried out on such an effective campaign against communal forces during the elections, even bringing out an excellent fact–sheet on Kargil.
I am, however, more worried about the prevalent confusion in the secular camp. The rise of the BJP is in no mean measure due to this reason. I wonder what we can do about that.
Not through e-mail alone
Many thanks for sending Sabrang
Alert. We find it extremely informative and useful. Please consider sending the hard copy (once in a fortnight or monthly) for a wider network.
Vigil India Movement, Bangalore
This is no time for a snooze
Excellent Alerts. Great job.Keep up the pressure. We can ill–afford to slacken or snooze. The one on Dara and secularists’ insouciance was very timely and trenchant. Yes, where is the outrage? Why aren’t all of them on the streets, in demos, incessant marches and morchas?
Sabrang Alert is a great idea and is providing very useful compendia of facts to confront the Hindutvavaadis in America. Keep up the good work!
New York, USA
Thank you for the great work on these election alerts! They are very informative and very compelling.
Iam delighted to have made it to your list. The "Alerts" are fulfilling their metaphorical worth in these very real times of ours. I am here in Washington DC and would like to avail all support to you and our cause. Peace.
We welcome Sabrang Alert. It is timely and much needed. Today I also saw your ad in the National Press. Good. Keep it up. We are with you. Let me know if we can do any thing more. Thanks and with regards,
Don’t politicise the gender debate
Rohit and others, I would like to respond to some of the things said in this report (Sabrang Alert on ‘women and the Sangh’; see below). I am inclined to construe this report as an attempt to politicise the otherwise larger issue of womens’ rights in India. While the Shekhawat government may have been downright criminal in it’s handling of the issues listed below, there have been governments of all political parties that have done the same or worse over the past 50 years. It is thus unfair to solely accuse the BJP when all parties are as guilty. I am not defending the BJP, or absolving it of the many other crimes it is commiting against women — take the covert and overt support to Sati for one — I am going to address these accusation one by one.
FACT SHEET ON RAJASTHAN
Women under saffron: Bhairon Singh Shekhawat’s rule from 1990 — November 1998:
lGang rape and torture of Dhapu Bai of Utharna, in Tonk district by nine men.
l15th June 1996, Dhapu Bai gang raped again. Her husband and son beaten up with iron rods.
l4th Sept 1997: Naina Jogani, a devout Jain raped by a Jain monk in Bhinmal, Jalore.
l5th Sept 1997: a young girl gang raped by 8 men in the J C Bose hostel of University of Rajasthan, Jaipur.
lManorama Singh of the BJP said the victim of the University hostel rape case was responsible for her situation, "or why did she not speak out earlier while wallowing in filth for seven years"
Comment: This is the general attitude that even women in India hold towards rape victims. Unfortunately, it does not remain a BJP preserve.
lChief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekawat’s reply to the above incidents when womens’ groups took repeated protests to him: "Why this unnecessary hue and cry over one or two rape cases?"
Comment: Abominable as it may sound there are tens of thousands of rapes in India each year. Rajasthan is known as one of the worst states in terms of the status of women. I suspect a Chief Minister from any other party could have said the same thing.
lDeputy Chief Minister Hari Shankar Bhabra’s response on the floor of the Rajasthan state assembly: "Striya charitram purushasya bhagyam, Davo na janati kutaha-manushyam? (The character of a woman and the destiny of man are such that even Gods cannot say anything about it, why talk of human?)
Comment: Again a response that could have come from a minister from any other party too. However, the BJP does have this delightful habit of quoting the scriptures — or texts that purpote to the the same!
lAfter the anti–Bhanwari Devi rally held on Januaray 18, 1996 when asked how he ( Bahiron singh Shekawat) could have allowed the use of abusive language (‘randi’/ prostitute, kalankini/bad omen) against Bhanwari Devi by the speakers, Mr. Shekawat replied that this was a democracy and he could not stop people from expressing their feelings.
Comment: I must confess that I am inclined to agree with the Chief Minister on this one. He cannot and should not stop them but if the law of the land has been broken in terms of defamation or slander or public obscenity then action should be taken.
lBJP legislators, and BJP mahila morcha called Bhanwari Devi a liar and actively organised the anti-Bhanwari Devi rally.
Comment: Well that changes things a bit as he is responsible for what his party does. What does distinguish the BJP from other parties is that they do not show any qualms about publicly demeaning women and their rights. I think it is an important difference.
lThe Congress, several social and women’s organisations formed the ‘Mahila Atyachar Virodhi Jan Andolan’ and took up 12 other cases of rape and molestation where there was gross neglect on the part of the investigating agency. The BJP Mahila Morcha was silent on this issue.
Comment: Politics again. While condemning the BJP Mahila Morcha, I daresay that the Congress Mahila Morcha would have been silent if it were a Congress ruled state. Once again the fight for womens’ rights has to be fought at a plane higher than mere politics.
lApril 1997, the son of the transport minister Rohitas Sharma threw acid on the face of a school going girl. Despite large scale protests and due to CM’s patronage no arrests made thus far.
lDemand for ‘State Women’s Commission’ and a ‘State Human Rights Commission’ disregarded by state’s BJP government. However, the ‘State Commission for Service of Cows’ was set up.
Comment: I would like to repeat again that I am not supporting any of the actions of the BJP government listed above. Their attitudes towards women are perhaps worse than in other political parties. But remember that Rajasthan as a state has an awful track record.
Please let us not confine the fight for womens rights within the parameters of anti–communalism or politics.
Make no excuses
Dear Anurag (garo),please let us
not confine the fight for womens’ rights within the parameters of anti–communalism or politics. The point of that message was the overt nature of discrimination and insensitivity the sangh parivar (RSS et al) have put on public display. Their top leaders actively supporting SATI and DOWRY is no small matter. An isolated individual uttering nonsense like this is one thing. But when key figures in top positions of a nation–wide organizations say and do things like that then something is terribly wrong.
The Congress(I) may or may not have done that. But they didn’t! Not to support the Congress but that is a weak argument if one says that had the African–Americans been given a chance they would have enslaved the whites. So therefore, slavery is not that bad. We have to quit making excuses for our inactivity even if we wear a garb of fairness.
Indeed, women in India have suffered for millennia now but there has been progress. Such organizations want to nullify that. Yeah, sure over my dead body! The same message goes out to the Taliban and all those who have subjugated the weak forever now.
I am not quitting and will be here till they get me. Peace.