The peaceful protests in Bombay that had been organized by certain Muslim organizations to protest against the massacre of Muslims in Assam & Myanmar, have turned violent!! Our activists friends who were in the vicinity, also reported to say that a mob attacked & burnt a police van as well as 3 media vans. The situation is now under control & the police has cordoned off the area.
This current flareup at Azad Maidan is not a normal matter & reeks of nefarious scheming politics. In our assessment, a few agent provocateurs were made to infiltrate the protests & then attacked the police & the media.
This is part of the larger government plan to engineer communal tension & riots as we head for the elections of 2014. And if we are not vigilant, Bombay itself will witness massive riots as was the case in the dark months of 1992-93.
In the last 2 decades Muslim organizations have organized mammoth rallies where the numbers have ranged from 25,000 to 500,000. Yet never has an untoward incident has taken place. In the last such massive rally to protest against the Danish cartoons, even then there was no violence & a mass gathering of 500,000 passed of peacefully. The other ground reality is that, with all the rhetoric of the global war on terror, the Indian Muslim community & especially in certain metropolitan centres such as Bombay, are under a perpetual state of siege. Our won experience has been that Muslim do not even dare to challenge such archaic laws as section 144, which do not permit protests to be organized in certain areas of Bombay & thus refrain from joining our protests.
Thus unless this was pre-planned & had the backing of the Congress-NCP state government, this outbreak of violence is impossible. The goons who burnt the vans had come with a lot of preparation & would have been carrying petrol or diesel with them. Thus it was not a spontaneous mob attack, but was clearly pre-planned.
We would also like to raise this question here, as to why have not the police or the Home Ministry taken the leaders of the Muslim organization that organized this protest into custody? When we book the Azad Maidan, or organize any programme, we have to inform the police authorities & give a written undertaking & assurance that it will pass of peacefully & if not, the consequences lie with the organizers.
Thus many hard questions also need to be asked by the authorities & especially by the Muslim community itself, that are hostage to certain leaders of dubious repute, who are beholden to the state for certain favours.
Also as we had previously warned, there is a concerted attempt to create Hindu vs Muslim tensions over Assam & Buddhist vs Muslim tensions over Myanmar. There are confirmed reports of extremists youth from all the 3 communities that are spreading hateful venom against each other.
The entire problem lies in the fact that the ongoing genocide in Myanmar is being portrayed as a Buddhist onslaught. The ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka was never portrayed as a Buddhist vs Hindu clash, but as an ethnic Sinhala vs Tamil problem. The reality is that it is the Myanmar Military junta that is responsible for this horrendous pogrom & the Buddhist masses themselves have been victims of this dictatorship.
As we have witnessed time & again in India itself, when the state itself is involved in the massacre as was the case in Delhi (1984), Gujarat (2002) or Mumbai (1992-93), the mobs follow the cue & this is true for believers & adherents of all faiths & none. In Assam as well, it is the governments both at the State & the Centre, that are responsible for the ethnic crisis.
If the state of affairs is allowed to deteriorate, our city of Mumbai could be heading for another phase of sponsored pogroms, with far worse consequences. Thus as secular activists we must immediately take to the streets & organize inter-community meetings & explain the politics that is driving the current divisive agenda, as we head for the crucial general elections of 2014.
We need to be vigilant & prepared to thwart these nefarious designs.
Kishore Jagtap (President, Buddhist Intellectual Forum / Dalit-OBC Alliance for Social Justice) &
Feroze Mithiborwala (National President, Bharat Bachao Andolan / Muslim Intellectual Forum)
Mumbai,11th August 2012