Speak up against vulgar and intimidating language of the goons masquerading as political activists
As another year is coming to an end, we witnessed huge turmoil everywhere. The intimidation to dissenters continued while political opponents were targeted as usual by the Hindutva groups. Mob lynching and cow terrorism aggravated all over the country and as the state remained subdued and muted, the goons with political patronage had a field day during the year. Institutions continued to crumble as orthodox brahmanical political devotees were appointed as Directors and vice chancellors. The worst part was that the fourth pillar of democracy, the media, surrendered absolutely and reached its nadir, much worse than what we could have witnessed during the infamous emergency. Now media has become a party to propaganda by the Hindutva hate groups where character assassination and intimidation is the way of life.
The year began with the murder of Gauri Lankesh and continued with threat to the life of Prof Kancha Ilaiah by the Vaishya community groups in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana openly encouraged by the ruling Telugu Desham Party. The state of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh virtually abdicated their responsibility in taking action against the goons who were threatening Prof Ilaih. Now, Dr Sujatha Surepally, who is a teacher in Satwahana University, Karimnagar has come under the target of the Sangh Parivar supported goons who have been abusing her on their Facebook page and threatening with dire consequences. The accusation against Sujatha Surepally is that she incited students to burn Manusmriti on December 25th to coincide the historic Mahad movement in 1927 led by Baba Saheb Ambedkar when he led the movement that burnt Manusmriti. As we all know the first person who burnt it was a Brahmin called Sahashrbuddhe. Since then, the Dalit Bahujan groups actually organize various programmes and protest marches including symbolic burning of Manusmriti for its defamatory and contemptuous directions towards the untouchables, shudras and the women.
Dr Sujatha Surepally is a well-known activist in Telangana who teach sociology in the Satwahana University, Karimnagar. She has been active in movement for separate state of Telangana as well as participated in various social movements for the land and other rights issues. Over the years, she has been supporting the anti-caste struggles in Telangana as well as those related to land and other issues of violence against Dalits and Adivasis. Recently, she helped two landless Dalits who faced insult and humiliation by the leader of BJP in Nizamabad. It was like the video that the perpetrators of criminal act in Una last year, circulated deliberately to humiliate and intimidate the Dalits. In this case, the two Dalits were forced to take a dip into the dirty pond in the village for their ‘alleged’ complaint against the said leader of the BJP. Sujatha helped mobilise people’s opinion as well as support on the administration against this and perhaps the leader is in the jail at the moment because of pressure from the ground.
As we know, Telangana is next on the target of the Sangh Parivar and for that the favourite binary of Hindu Muslim or India Pakistan will be played. Sangh’s theocratic activists know nothing beyond these idiotic expressions. Telangana is a state where Dalits and Muslims have worked together and that way remain a peaceful region. Sujatha Surepally is a powerful voice against the hate driven politics and has stood with people’s movement for their rights. She goes out of her way to help the students particularly from the Dalit Bahujan communities and has been active in cementing the relationship between the two communities. Over the past few years, she has been active on anti-caste platforms. As I said earlier, we may or may not agree with her choices of selecting her platform but all these activities are totally democratic in nature.
On December 25th, a group of Dalit Bahujan Students at the Satwahana University in Karimnagar, organized a protest against the Manusmiriti to remember Baba Saheb’s historical struggle in Mahad in 1927. These are not big university campuses but with more rural students. I am not even sure whether any one of them had Manusmriti in their hand. Most of these protests are more in symbolism and less in contents hence there is nothing wrong in protesting which is a democratic right of the people. It is alleged that some teachers might have participated in it which is a normal process in the university campuses. Suddenly, the student groups affiliated to BJP attacked these protesting students inside the campus and an altercation happened. More and more students were brought into the picture and police made several arrests. The BJP affiliate group actually said that the Dalit students burnt the poster of Bharat-Mata and all this was being guided by Surepally Sujatha who actually was not at all present in the campus and was in Hyderabad that day because of Christmas holiday. A video was circulated of the alleged involvement of her but the police could find nothing. After the incident the BJP affiliated group launched vicious campaign against Sujatha on their Facebook page. They are putting pressure on the administration for her arrest and suspension from the university. The problem is that all of them know that there are merely political allegations and hence administration should have taken into account by dismissing them out rightly they keep the issue hot so that the person is intimidated and her activities are curtailed. Moreover, the thing is that this party which take high moral ground, respecting women, actually openly supporting and encouraging goons who are threatening women even with rapes. Will the party stand up and say they discard it or will they send their loudmouths to shout the reasonable voices out and suggest that all those who according to them are anti-national would be publically harassed and lynched. We have not seen the outrage and condemnation by political party may be because of us are today victim of the social media gamut and will speak only if it is suitable to them politically. We have seen the terrible track record of both the government in Andhra and Telangana to deny any support to Rohith Vemula’s family.
There are few very valid issues here. We may or may not agree with Surepally Sujatha and many of her thoughts and activities which come under the democratic right to an academic as citizen of India but we should ask a question whether those who are threatening her are a threat to democracy and society or not ? Whether the administration should keep quiet and not act against those goons who abuse her and threatening her. It is also important to understand that Student groups of diverse thoughts too altercate and fight. Teachers too participate in various programmes organized by student groups and have their political choices. Those choices are fundamental for our democratic freedom. Ofcourse, the political choice should not be allowed to make them judgmental about all those who do not agree with them, at least, when they evaluate the academic work of their students. So, nobody is here asking anyone to agree with everything that Sujatha Surepally does or speak. It is the issue of fundamental rights and the nature of discourse which the Sangh Parivar and the organization that it is encouraging, has approved as a political discourse. It is the sanskriti they are talking about by appointing goons as political trolls and then try to humiliate and harass those who disagree with them.
I am happy to see the nature of support that Sujatha Surepally has got in public but what is most disappointing and disgusting the way those who speak about human rights, humanists,Dalit, Bahujan Ambedkarite rights, Dalit women groups, women groups etc have kept conspicuously quiet which is equally disturbing. What happen to a woman who has been targeted by all and then we will start counting that you did not speak there or here. I am absolutely shocked at this calculation. I am in a remote area at the moment where internet accessibility has been low. As a human rights defender and an Ambedkarite, I have stood with all the friends of any ideological variety when their rights are violated. We must not forget the way women are being targeted by the goons on the social media by morphing their photographs, threatening them with rapes, making mockery of their life. Should we allow this to happen? Should we not have a position on them?
In this case, the Sangh Parivar and BJP played Dalit fight Dalit card. They could not have fought against Sujatha on a Dalit non Dalit fight hence they ensure to bring Dalit students and that too some Dalit women activists of Sangh Parivar to defame her. The blame is not for burning of Manusmriti but they suggest that the students burnt portrait of Bharat Mata on the direction of Sujatha Surepally which is ridiculous. I have seen imaginary photos of Bharat Mata or Telangana Mata during the Telangana movement and questioned that. A few decades back, none would have raised such slogans and one would have just laughed at the idiocies of those accusing. We all have sung Bharat Mata kee Jai numerous times even when we never knew who she was. The best definition came from Jawahar Lal Nehru who said that all the mazdoors, kisans, hardworking citizens of this country are Bharat Mata but Sangh Parivar and its political offshoots want us to believe what they have taught their children in the school for years. We all love our motherland and it is natural. We don’t need to get a certificate from Aryan immigrants led Sangh Parivar to do so. It is our country and we will protect it with all its might. The attempt to create division and make one community fight against other is the real anti national act and must be dealt with.
Strange thing is that the Telangana police has not acted on the complaint filed by Sujatha Surepally. It seems that administration does not seem to act on it and the Hindutva outfits want to drag the issue on and on in the public. Will India be governed by the lynch mob or will it be ruled by the constitution and rule of law? It is for all of us to think, whether we will allow our wings to humiliate women activists, authors or all those who are in public life by openly intimidating them and call for rape and murder. Should we not speak up against this in one voice of absolute rejection against such kind of filthy language for public discourse? Where the cybercrime cell is and what is it meant for if it cant take up the case of threat to Sujatha Surepally.
No democracy will survive if we allow goons to settle scores in street. If Sujatha Surepally has violated any law then action should be taken against her as per law but definitely those thugs who are threatening her with dire consequences deserved to be booked and arrested for the crime against a Dalit woman. Telangana government needs to act on this positively. Sujatha and many other academic may provide support to people’s movement on social issues that threaten them as it is the duty of those who understand law to stand with their own people. Everything they have done is in public domain using their democratic right as a citizen of the country. It is time for us to sit together and speak about the gutter level of discourse that has crept in our polity and to understand how it will ultimately not only undermine our democracy but also provide a grammar for anarchy. Will we allow chaos and anarchy in the street to be handled by goons or should the law enforcement agencies be kept away from political interferences and made to abide the rule of law and our secular democratic constitution. But those who want this anarchy to continue to fulfil their ulterior political goals will be happy if we the people don’t speak up and calculate each word of our to the ‘ideology’ that we are in. I am sure, we all know, no ism is bigger than working for the people and if we are unable to understand who pose the biggest threat to Indian democracy then we are either politically naïve or opportunists. In this year 2018, I would only request people not to make messiahs of persons whose rights are violated or those who face threat but stand with them as their right to speak and the least you could do is to express outrage against the vulgar language which the paid political goons are using against people like Sujatha. Today it is she, tomorrow it may be you or me if we are working for people’s right. Speak up before it is too late.