People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 46

November 23, 2008



Conventions Against Communalism, Terrorism

Subhashini Ali

THE eastern districts of Uttar Pradesh have become particularly sensitive in the recent past. Gorakhpur is the centre of activity for the Hindu Mahasabha MP, Adityanath, from where he makes regular forays into the neighbouring districts of Azamgarh, Mau and Kushinagar, leaving a trail of violence and hatred in the wake of his campaign. Azamgarh itself has earned notoriety in recent weeks as the home of many of those arrested in connection with the spate of bomb blasts. Not only have many of these suspects been arrested; two of them were killed in the Batla House encounter.

The district also witnessed many visits by police teams belonging to states like Gujarat and Delhi who have made arrests and have also created an atmosphere of fear in many villages and towns of the district. Adityanath also visited the district headquarters in September when his cavalcade of jeeps and cars was allowed to pass through the minority dominated areas of the town, with his followers shouting abusive slogans against and threats to the inhabitants. In the resulting confusion, they also fired bullets into the protesting people and a young boy, Muniullah, was killed. This incident which took place during Ramzan was followed by many other clashes in rural areas, and all this in a district which has never experienced communal violence.

It was in this context that the Campaign against Terrorism and Communalism, which was started on September 8 by intellectuals, lawyers, political and social activists of the state in Lucknow, held a convention each in Gorakhpur and Azamgarh. Both were extremely well attended, and received a lot of publicity in the print and electronic media.

On November 15, Manoj Singh, a leading Hindi journalist who has been spearheading the anti-communal movement in the city of Gorakhpur, welcomed the participants to the convention here. It was presided over by (retd) Professor Ramkrishan Mani Tripathi who has been fearlessly speaking against the Hindu Mahasabha MP for the last several years. Pramod of the Janvadi Lekhak Sangh conducted the meeting, which was addressed by Jagdish Pandey Thakurai of the Teachers Union, social activist Fateh Bahadur Singh, and AIDWA leader Malti Devi. Dr Ramesh Dikshit, Professor of political science in Lucknow University, S M Naseem (retired ADG, Police), Maulana Zaheer Siddiqui of the Forum for Peace, and Subhashini Ali who are all founders of the Campaign, also addressed the convention. The connection between terrorism, communal violence and injustice was explained while stressing the need to fight to retain the secular nature of the state which has lost some of its sheen in recent years. An important point that was made that whatever the provocation, terrorism can never be a solution. While some may take that path because of atrocities that they and their family members have suffered and because of justice having been denied to them, terrorist acts only worsen the situation for all concerned. The recently revealed involvement of many from the Sangh Parivar in shocking deeds of terrorist violence was also described as the result of relentless communal propaganda and arousing of feelings of hatred towards the minorities. Javed gave the vote of thanks.

The Azamgarh convention was held the next day in the Nehru Hall. Ramjag presided while Advocate Arun Singh conducted the proceedings. Harishchander, retd. IAS officer, also spoke along with Prem Nath Rai. The Campaign leaders also addressed the convention. Many of those attending it felt that this was the first time that such a convention had been held in their district, and they welcomed the initiative. They also said that they would take the initiative to organise similar meetings in different parts of the district.