Violence, Hooliganism, and Outright War on Democracy in Mumbai

Join Citizen’s Protest against Intimidation and Harassment of two girls by Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Police;

against meek surrender of Congress-led Maharashtra Government before Shiv Sena’s vandalism…

2.30pm, Nov 22 infront of Maharashtra Bhavan, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi.

Shiv Sena Goons Waste No Time in Re-enacting Thackeray’s Legacy

 2 Young Women Arrested for Facebook Comments

Relative’s Clinic Vandalised by the Shiv Sena…

Immediately after Bal Thackeray’s death in Mumbai following a long illness, Shiv Sena indulged in orchestrated violence and hooliganism after a young Muslim girl in Mumbai made a simple comment on how public life in Mumbai was paralysed during his funeral.

Following Thackeray’s death and his funeral conducted with full state honours by the state government, the whole of Mumbai came to a standstill, with several shops shutting down and public transport being severely affected. After this, a 21-year old woman living in Mumbai, Shaheen Dhada, commented through a Facebook post, saying that a bandh on the occasion Thackeray’s funeral was not necessary – “we should remember Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev”, she added. One of her friends “liked” the comment. What followed was absurd – and highlighted just how weak our democracy is, and how vulnerable to muscle-flexing by the right-wing.

Shiv Sena has said Thackeray has “left a huge legacy” – and soon after has been showing us what exactly this “legacy” is all about:

  • 21-year old Shaheen and her friend Renu were arrested by the Mumbai police (based on a complaint by the Shiv Sena) under 505 (2) for making statements “creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill will”. They were remanded to 14-day judicial custody and finally released from custody only after they paid bail.
  • Shaheen’s uncle, Dr. Abdul Yusuf Dhada, runs a clinic in Palaghar, Mumbai and today Shiv Sena goons ransacked the clinic, broke furniture and other infrastructure in the clinic and forced all the patients to move out. Even though complaints have been filed with the Mumbai Police, no action has been takenon the 40 Shiv Sena goons who orchestrated this violence in full public view.

 The attacks by the Shiv Sena, are, of course, in the good old Shiv Sena tradition of intimidation and violence. But these are compounded by the attitude of the Mumbai police – which has obediently carried out the Shiv Sena’s diktats and arrested two young women for expressing an opinion on a social networking site!

What is equally shameful is the attitude of the Maharashtra government. Balasaheb Thackeray, who was once disenfranchised by the Election Commission for six years for making communally provocative speeches, who presided over hate- and violence-filled campaigns against poor labourers and workers in Mumbai, was accorded full state honours in his funeral. Even various leaders of the so-called “secular” Congress – including the Prime Minister of the country – have been busy trying to sanitise the actions of Thackeray and the mayhem he wrought over several decades. During the last phase of Thackeray’s illness,  Digvijaya Singh, propagandist for Congress’s ‘secularism,’  on Friday said Thackeray was a “fighter” all his life and will also “fight” his illness. Of course Digvijaya Singh never mentioned what exactly Thackeray “fought” for all his life!

The corporate media was not to be left behind in this game of creating a halo around Thackeray. Take for instance a report released by the ANI which says, “Social issues such as immigration and communalism were of particular interest to him in the context of national well being and welfare”. So, the Mumbai riots of 1992-93, the repeated, organised, vicious assaults on south Indians, workers from UP and Bihar and Muslims in Mumbai have become innocuous sounding “social issues of immigration and communalism” and examples of “national well being and welfare”!

Such statements go way beyond expressing condolences on the death of a well-known political leader. In fact, they effectively help to rewrite history, and make communal hate mongering and orchestrated violence appear as “acceptable” political practice. They give a message to rabid saffron forces that law will never touch majoritarian communal politics – the shriller the better.

AISA condemns the arrest of Shaheen and Renu simply for posting comments on Facebook and the subsequent Sena-orchestrated violence and hooliganism in Mumbai. AISA also condemns the craven role of the Congress government and the Mumbai police in Maharashtra, which has capitulated in service of the Shiv Sena goons. Butafter all, what better can one expect from the Congress-NCP government which never acted on the Shri Krishna Commission Report that squarely indicts Thackeray for  the horrific Mumbai riots of 1992-93, and which more recently agreed to removing Rohinton Mistry’s book from the Mumbai Univ. syllabus!

We all need to robustly resist all such shameful assaults on democracy, and speak out against the overdrive of the corporate media, the saffron brigade of RSS, BJP, Shiv Sena, MNS, as well as the slew of Congress leaders and the state machinery to valorise purveyors of communal hate mongering and violence.

Statement released by All India Students’ Association (AISA)

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