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Resist BJPs gender politics. Drive out hidden BJP supporters. Unite for struggles.

Speech as Das Theke Das Hajar Representative at 16 May 2016 Street Corner Meeting to Protest BJP's sexual politics and attacks on Jadavpur University Women Students

Soma Marik

I want to thank AIPWA and AISSA or calling this meeting to protest State BJP President Dilip Ghosh’s vulgarities directed towards women students of Jadavpur University. We of Das Theke Das Hajar, a network of people fighting sexual violence of all kinds, are of the opinion that against these fascist assaults, there is the need for widest and united resistance.  That was why, the moment we got the news of this protest meeting, we circulated the news among our members, put it up in our Facebook page, and also appealed to other organizations and networks to come out in united protests. Too often, on numerous issues, we seem to be coming out in contests of protest programmes. What is necessary is to be united. This utterance of Dilip Ghosh must not be seen as an isolated instance. This is a central aspect of the fascist politics of BJP-RSS.

 

 

Many of us have come out on the streets repeatedly in the past, protesting anti women, sexist comments, violence based on gender and sexuality, etc. They have been over issues like Benoy Konar being abusive to Medha Patkar, Anil Basu against mamata Banerjee, or Abdur Rezzak Mollah about Roopa Ganguly, or in myriad cases where moral policing has led to gender imbalance and violence, by whosoever. But lumping those thousand cases with the BJP is, today, not merely a political error. Rather, those who are wilfully trying to mix up all these cases are trying to dilute our understanding of the politics of the BJP, show these up as individual rather than a focussed political offensive. 

 

 

We need to start by asserting that this is not a personal rush of blood to the brain on the part of Dilip Ghosh. Rather, we can say that despite being BJP, one or two have retained enough sense to object—such as Locket Chatterjee. But verbal and physical violence linked to gender politics is nothing new for the BJP. Attacks on women of particular communities, raping them, murdering them after sadistic torture, videotaping such things – we have seen these all, after the Babri masjid destruction in 1992-3, for e.g., in Surat, during the Gujarawst pogroms in 2002, in Kandhamal, Jhabua, etc. Attacks have also been mounted on women who do not obey the dictats of Hindutva, regardless of their religion. Two decades or more back, a Rashtra Sevika Samity member told Tanika Sarkar that women who do not follow societal norms are the ones who get raped. Today, we should reflect that this was not simply an analysis but a threat. A few of the women assaulted and killed in Gujarat were Hindu women trying to protect the Muslims. Then too, many people had defended the crimes, saying these should be seen as Newton’s Third Law.

 

 

But when we call the politics of the BJP fascist, we need to analyse that properly. One facet of fascism is its efforts to halt all independent thinking. That is why, as in all other countries, fascism in India attacked institutions of higher education. Hyderabad, JNU, Jadavpur – the pattern is terribly familiar. On one hand there is the accusation of being seditious or anti-national. On the other hand there is the accusation about drinking, taking drugs, leading lifes out of the way a code is sought to be imposed. In the case of women, who protest, who speak out, the inevitable charges include utterances like how they lack modesty and hence cannot be molested, etc. Hence the story about 3000 condoms per day found in JNU, or the slanderous document prepared by a few pro BJP members of the faculty. 

 

 

In the same way, in Jadavpur, Vivek Agnihotri turned up, showed an anti left film, gave an anti-left speech, called left wing students “intellectual terrorists” and then the RSS-ABVP attacked the students. Male thugs assaulted women, both students and at least one woman mediaperson. But the covert BJP supporters around us have started complex debates about whether such incidents can be called “molestation” – some openly on TV channels, some in personal discussions. Along with this came uncouth verbal violence. That Ju students are “behaya’ was just one of numerous filthy comments. In support of the leader of the party, cadres stepped forward, put up pictures of various Jadavpur University women students on the social media, used terribly abusive language about them, went to their Facebook pages to hurl abuses, personally threatened them with violence. Here, the enemy is far more conscious than we are. The enemy has made no disticntion between revolutionary, reformist, ultra-left, etc but attacked them all.

 

 

These attacks are planned and motivated. Through these, it is being protrayed to ordinary people that students should be objects of hatred and violence. Do women students of Jadavour smoke? Do they wear dresses other than sarees? Please tell me, are we living in the world of the Hindi films of the ‘60s, where women who smoke and wear dresses beyond the rigid dress code are to be seen as “vamps”? The reality is, through sustained lies and slanders, people’s minds have to be poisoned, so that they fail to recognize that the real reason for the assault on the Universities is to stop independent, creative thinking. These fascists want to push women’s emancipation back  by at least two centuries. So we need to grasp their hatred of women, their rape-culture, in its entirety, and fight against it consistently. Dilip Ghosh’s attacks andthe ABVP molestation of JU girl students must not be de linked from the attacks on Soni Sori, the sexual violence on adivasi women in Bastar in the name of tackling Maoism, and similar developments elsewhere. We must not treat this in isolation but build unity among these struggles.