15 April 2003
Statement of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatana
THE ATTACK ON MKSS SHOPS DURING THE VHP ( TOGADIA ) BANDH ON THE 15TH OF APRIL 03
MAKING A STATEMENT AGAINST COMMUNAL POLITICS
When Togadia chose Ajmer to distribute his version of the trishul, a weapon that can kill, the local Hindutva elements started to strut around. He gives venomous energy and a sense of legitimacy to the lumpin elements in society. They get inspired by his abusive language and his hatred filled dreams of power. So what happened with the call for the VHP bandh on the 15th was not surprising. We decided to keep open the Mazdoor Kisan Kirana Stores- fair price shops run by the MKSS in Jawaja, Surajpura, Todgarh and Bhim. While Bhim was quiet partly because of firm action taken against Kalu Ram Sankla, self styled don of the Shiv Sena Commando Force, and Todgarh was quiet too, Jawaja and Surajpura got the brunt of the wounded pride of the VHP and its conglomerate, partly as a fallout of the Sankla episode.
Kaluram Sankla, self styled president of the Shiv Sena Commando force came and held a “dharma sabha” in Bhim in February 2003. The purpose of the sabha was actually to publicly distribute swords and Pharsas (an axe like weapon) accompanied by filthy hate speeches. When the MKSS filed FIRS against him, and demanded strong action, the government booked him first under section 153 A and then later under NSA. Bhim now minds how it treats public spaces and fears the consequences of participating in the Sangh Parivar’s aggressive and unlawful tactics. Though like most small towns it is still a BJP base and vote bank.
On the 15th of April, the MKSS shops in Jawaja and Surajpura opened as usual .When they were ordered to pull their shutters down in support of the bandh to protest against Togadia’s arrest in Ajmer , they refused to comply. The MKSS workers were then abused and threatened by a small mob of 50 odd lumpin elements led by Sita Singh, BJP Ajmer Zila Parishad member, Mool Singh aspirant for the MLA ticket from the BJP, and Prabhu Singh Panchayat Samiti member Jawaja. They shouted communal abuses at all the MKSS comrades, in particular against Chunni Singh. The SHO and the police were present and tried to persuade the MKSS to shut the shop down for the sake of peace and maintaining “law and order”! When the mob found they could not really prevent the opening of the shop they went to Surajpura and broke the counter, stole money and goods, and left. Meanwhile, a complaint was lodged with senior police officers. In a short while the ASP Beawar apprehended the crowd and arrested about 25 persons. The MKSS registered FIRS against the five leaders, including a demand for booking them u/s 153 A of the IPC.
There has been tension since then; the younger lumpin elements keeping the bazaar closed for 3 days after that, threatening the other shop keepers and preventing them from opening their shops. The 20 who were booked u/s 151 of the IPC have been let out on bail and the other five have been re-arrested on the 17th of April.
The MKSS has been involved with anti-communal activites since 1992. This began after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. We spent a year doing little else. The shop which was set up a few weeks earlier in Bhim, became an important entry point into the communal Hindutva politics of Bhim. We used the shop to sit, literally in the middle of the stronghold of the BJP and the RSS; a constant irritant. We showed ‘ram ke naam’ on a video screen and took the constitutional oath for a secular democratic India, in the hot bed of the RSS stronghold. The disgruntled were angry and aggressive but could do nothing. At that time too the MKSS had refused to pull the shutters down when the BJP had called for a bandh to protest against the arrest of LK Advani. The MKSS shop was open to business and the market opened within hours.
The shops have had ups and downs, problems with this and that and there are times when we wonder whether we should carry on with this “commercial” activity. But once again the shops have given us space and helped us make a very strong statement opposing communal politics. The majority of the community in the villages of that area are not in sympathy with the bandh anyway. This has been proved by the sale proceeds in the last 3 days, despite calls for the boycott of the MKSS shop. At the end of the day the till added to over 12000 rupees, twice the normal daily earnings of the Mazdoor Kisan Kirana Store!
Most importantly the sangh parivar is exposing its real intent to encroach on all public spaces and its inability to be democratic and accept contradictory points of view. By the MKSS standing up to their bullying, the people in the area have got opportunities to join the debate, and in effect, expose the shallowness of the support for these fundamentalist causes.
We are still in the middle of this incident in many ways . We do not quite know what turn it will take. But we will continue to state our point of view and confront these forces. We will keep you posted on the happenings
Nikhil , Aruna, Shankar, Chunni Singh, Hanswarup, Narayan, Ram Singh, Sushila, Sua,
Raju, Teju, Ranjit, Bhagwan, Narender, Viram Singh,Lakshman (MKSS)
Sabrang Communications & Publishing Pvt. Ltd.