The following is a report circulated by Shabnam Hashmi on the National Convention on ‘Countering Fascist Forces: Defending the idea of India’ held in New Delhi on October 25 and 26, 2008
The two-day national convention was attended by over 750 activists' and intellectuals from 18 states (Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Delhi, Harayana, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, J & K, Punjab, Maharashtra and Chattisgarh).
POLITICAL RESOLUTION PASSED AT THE CONVENTION
The urgency to intervene in defence of democracy, secularism and justice has never been more pressing than in the conditions prevailing in the country today.
The rise of communal fascism has emerged as a threat not only to its immediate victims but to the very long-term survival of India as a unified nation of diverse religious, linguistic and ethnic groups. The mysterious and condemnable acts of terrorism that have shaken different parts of the country have engendered a climate of fear, insecurity and fuelled the politics of communal division.
In recent months, vicious attacks have been mounted across India against religious minorities by Hindutva fascist organizations and communalism has even become the dominant tenor of public discourse. In Maharashtra the regional chauvinist forces of Bal and Raj Thackeray, both offsprings of the Hindutva politics of hate, has targeted north Indians in a bid to drive them out of the state.
The BJP, RSS and their allies in the Sangh Parivar have mounted a vicious campaign against the Christian community across India. Orissa and over 10 states have seen violent attacks on the Christian community, their institutions, religious places, property and businesses on the basis of fabricated stories and hate campaigns.
Throughout the country Muslim youth are being targeted, without any or little evidence, as responsible for the various bomb blasts taking place in the country. There is a concerted attempt by the Indian police, intelligence agencies and certain political parties to portray all members of the Muslim community as 'terrorists and extremists' - to be arbitrarily arrested, tortured and killed in fake encounters. Sections of the media instead of investigating the truth are blindly parroting these sensational and unsubstantiated claims.
Even more disturbingly the accused are being systematically denied their basic right to legal defence by some bar associations themselves which have threatened, expelled and even violently attacked lawyers brave enough to take up these cases. The Indian judiciary has failed to take suo moto cognizance of such attacks as being contempt of court.
All this while hard evidence available against Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other Sangh outfits of their direct involvement in terror attacks is not only being ignored but actively pushed under the carpet by the Indian state. The Hindutva terrorist groups like the Bajrang Dal are openly claiming responsibility for this communal violence against Christians and are yet being allowed to go scot-free.
There is a growing feeling among religious minority communities that the Indian state and judiciary is biased against them and unwilling to provide impartial justice even in cases such as the demolition of the Babri Masjid. No action has been taken on the recommendations of the Srikrishna Commission report following the anti-Muslim pogrom in Mumbai of 1993. On the other hand some members of the judiciary are now willing to be puppets of communal forces, a dangerous trend set by the Nanavati Commission, which has exonerated the Narendra Modi government of responsibility for the Gujarat Genocide of 2002.
Instead of confronting these fascist forces the Indian state is cracking down hard on 'soft targets' like human rights and social activists. The fundamental rights of life, liberty, freedom of speech, religion and dissent guaranteed to all citizens by the Indian Constitution are being shred to pieces right in front of our eyes.
Entire swathes of the Indian North-East and Kashmir are covered by the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that authorises even the lowest soldier to shoot and kill civilians on mere suspicion of their being 'militants'. In Chhattisgarh, large numbers of citizens continue to be detained using the highly restrictive Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA). Those defending the rights of the poor, Dalit, Adivasis and other marginalised people are being falsely branded as 'extremists' and 'anti-nationals'. The state sponsored, unconstitutional 'Salwa Judum' campaign, which has unleashed horrific violence on innocent tribal populations over the past four years in the name of countering Maoism, is being justified by none other than the National Human Rights Commission itself.
All this is happening even as the forces of imperialism led by the United States, under the pretext of the so-called Global War on Terror, are busy re-colonising entire nations from Iraq to Afghanistan and are now targeting Pakistan in the immediate neighbourhood of India. The global media is contributing to this politics of hatred by demonizing Muslims worldwide and frightening ordinary citizens into giving up their basic democratic rights everywhere.
Within the country, the pattern of elitist development has turned a vast majority of the population into second-class citizens, reinforcing with misguided policies the apartheid of the ancient and racist caste system. The ghost of the East India Company, buried long ago, is being resurrected in myriad forms and those who run the Indian state are willfully abetting the return of a neo-colonial order.
It is a state of affairs that calls upon all those who value Indian independence, democratic rights and social justice to come forward, take responsibility and resist the onslaught by fascist and imperialist forces on the foundations of our national values and existence. We also urge all anti-communal activists and secular political parties to forge alliance to defeat fascism and communalism. We, the delegates and participants of the National Convention on Countering Fascism: Defending the Idea of India in New Delhi held on 25-26 October 2008 resolve as follows to:
1) Call for the resignation of Shivraj Patil, Home Minister of India for his abject failure to prevent bomb attacks in major Indian cities; take action against Hindutva terrorists despite evidence provided to him by civil society groups; stop the Sangh Parivar's attacks on Christian populations in Orissa, Karnataka and other parts of India; and for using fake police encounters and false evidence against Muslim youth to save his political career;
2) Call for the dismissal of M.K.Narayanan, National Security Adviser for incompetence and all the intelligence lapses leading to rise in to both terrorist and communal violence;
3) Demand prosecution of all members of the Bharatiya Janata Party and ABVP who have links with Hindutva terrorist organisations, such as the ones implicated in the Malegaon bomb blasts.
4) Condemn the UPA government for falling prey to the Hindutva agenda while paying lip service to secularism.
5) Demand the setting up of a time-bound judicial inquiry into the Jamia Nagar 'encounter' headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court;
6) Review major cases of 'terrorist' attacks and immediately release those against whom there is no evidence of any kind; implementation of NHRC instruction regarding independent investigation into all deaths in police custody and in police encounters over the last 5 years;
7) Call for a ban on RSS, the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad for terrorist, anti-national activities and seizure of their national and international assets; a White Paper on the terrorist activities of these organizations;
8) Demand the presentation of a White Paper on the scope of India's "war on terrorism" and the level of its cooperation and collaboration with the US-led war on terror;
9) Enact the Communal Violence Bill after thorough revision in consultation with citizen's bodies, human rights groups and anti-communal organisations across India;
10) Provide immediate relief and compensation to the victims of communal terrorism in Orissa and other states including reconstruction of destroyed private property and restoration of livelihood. Set up a permanent statutory body to deal with such issues in future.
11) Demand the formation of a strong statutory body like election commission (or extend the scope of the EC) to monitor pre-election conduct of political parties and their leaders which generally leads up to polarization of vote banks. Such a body should have a right to disqualify party and/or its functionaries or elected representatives in the legislature in the wake of a breach of conduct;
12) The immediate release of Human Rights Defenders, such as Dr Binayak Sen, who have been arrested for exposing police atrocities and state violence against innocent citizens.
13) Demand a White Paper on misuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Kashmir and the Indian North-East and the immediate withdrawal; search for a political rather than military solution to the Kashmir problem;
14) A national commission of inquiry into the misuse of special security laws by the police to arrest members of the minority community in false cases of terrorism
PROMINENT SPEAKERS AT THE CONVENTION
Abhay Shukla, Achin Vanaik , Amit Sengupta, Anil Choudhary, Apoorvanand, Colin Gonsalves, Digant Oza, Dr. Sandeep Pandey, Dr. Sayeda Hamid, Harsh Dobhal, Iftikhar Gilani, Jaya Mehta, John Dayal, Justice A.M. Ahmadi, Kamala Bhasin, Kavita Srivastava, Kshitij Urs, Kuldip Nayar, Manisha Sethi, Neeraj Jain, Poornima Joshi, Prashant Bhushan, Prof KN Panikkar , Prof Mushir ul Hasan, Prof Upendra Buxi, Prof. Rooprekha Verma, Satya Sivaraman, Shabnam Hashmi, Subhash Gatade, Suresh Khairnar, Swami Agnivesh, Tanika Sarkar, Vineet Tiwari, Yusuf Shaikh, Zafar Agha.
Partial List of those who participated
Aanchal Verma,Abdul Salam,Abhay Shukla,Abhimanue Upadhyaya,Achin Vanaik ,Ajay Kumar,Ajay Kumar Soni,AK Malakar,Ambarish Rai,Amit Sengupta,Amitabh Pandey,Amjad Khan,Amrita Nandy-Joshi,Anil Choudhary,Anil Kumar Aind,Anwar Hussain,Apoorvanand,Arindam Jit Singh,Arti,Arun Kumar Maji,Asad Zaidi,Ashim Boral,Asma saleem,Avinash Kumar,Azad Mohd,Azam Khan,Bhawan lal Tutan,Bibhu Prasad Mohanty,Biju Mohan,Brajesh Awasti,Brija Nand,C Sathyamala,Chandra Nigam,Chinnappa,Chitranjan Singh,Colin Gonsalves,D Manjit,Deendayal Vyas,Deepak Bhatt,Dhirendra Panda,Dhruv Narain,Dhruv Sangari,Digant Oza,Dinesh Parmar,DK Roy,Dolly Thakore,DP Singh,DR Alex George,Dr Srivella Prasad,Dr Umakant,Dr. Sandeep Pandey,Dr. Sayeda Hamid,Dushyantbhai Unjhakar,Ein Lall,Elsamma simon,Faisal Khan,Farha Naqvi,Gauhar Raza,Gobind,GS Gahlot,Harsh Dobhal,Harsha Hedge,Hitendra Chauhan,Iftikhar Gilani,Ilmuddin,Ishwar Singh Dost,Jaison Thomas,Javed Anis,Jaya Mehta,Jerome,John Chattanatt,John Dayal,Jugal Kishore Shastri,Jully Hembrom,Justice A.M. Ahmadi,Kalpana Mehta,Kamala Bhasin,Kausar Wizarat,Kaushal Kumar Singh,Kavita Srivastava,Khursheed Anwar,Kshitij Urs,Kuldip Nayar,Lalta Prasad,Leslie Rodericks,Leslie Rodricks,Lysa John,Madhu Chandra,Mahindr Pal Singh,Manisha Sethi,Manisha Trivedi,Mansi Sharma,Mehtab alam,Michelle Chawla,Mohan Kumawat,Mohd Arif,Mohd tasleem Shaikh,Mukesh Kumar,Mukul Manglik,Naim Khan,Nandipati Vinod Kumar,Naval Hans,ND Jayaprakash,Neeraj Jain,Neeraj Jain,Nidhi Makhija,Noor Mohammad,Noorjahan Diwan,Om Mittal,Onngam Haokif,Pankhudi Misra,Parveen Mansuri,Parvinder Singh,Pearl Drego,Piyush Pant,Poornima Joshi,Poorva Bhardwaj,Prasad,Prasant Kumar Bhuyan,Prashant Bhushan,Prof KN Panikkar ,Prof Mushir ul Hasan,Prof Upendra Buxi,Prof. Rooprekha Verma,Qamar Azad hashmi,R Bhaskaran,Raj Kumar Hooda,Rajendra motiyani,Rajesh Jakhar,Rangrez Shahnawaz Sabir Hussain,Rasheeda,Rebecca Kumi,Resham Singh,Rev Dr CK Simon,Rizwan Qaisar,Rumal ,Runu Chakraborty,S Alphonse Selvaraj,Sachin Pandya,Sadre Alam,Safia Akhtar,Sagari Chhabra,Saifuddin Khan,Saiyed Gulzar Fatma,Samiullah,Sandeep Sinha,Sanjay Kumar,Sanjay Sharma,Sarika Srivastava,Satya Sivaraman,Seema Duhan,Shabnam Hashmi,Shah Alam,Shakeel Ahmad Khan,Shiamala Baby,Shri Prakash,Shuchi jBajaj,Siddeq Khan,Sister Gracy D" Souza,SK Pande,Subhash Gatade,Subrata das,Sumshot Kitular,Suresh Khairnar,Suresh Nautiyal,Swami Agnivesh,Syed Shahid Mahdi,Tanika Sarkar,Tanvir Kazi,Tarakeshwari Negi,Than Singh Josh,Udyan Roy,Victor Raj,Vineet Tiwari,Waqar Qazi,Willy,Yogender Yadav,Yoginder Sikand,Yusuf Shaikh,Yusuf Shaikh,Zafar A haq,Zafar Agha,Zahoor Siddiqi,Zayaul Haque,Zoya Hasan, Zulaikha Jabeen and 600 others
The Convention was organized by Academy of Public Understanding of Science, All India Christian Council, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, All India Quami Mahaz, All India Secular Forum, Alternatives, Aman Biradari, Aman Samudaya, ANHAD, Antarik Visthapit Hak Rakshak Samiti, Anweshi, Arya Samaj, ASHA Pariwar, Ashraya Adhikar Abhiyan, Asmita Collective, Awaz e- Niswana, Bandhua Mukti Morcha, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Bihar Social Institute, BUILD, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms, Centre for Youth Development and Activities, Chattisgarh Jan Vigyan Vikas Sangthan, Centre for Information, Training, Research and Action, Commission for Religious Harmony, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights , Countercurrents.org, Centre for Studies in Society and Secularism, Danish Publishers, Darpana Academy, Disha Social Organization , Ekta, Foundation for Educational Innovations in Asia, Global Gandhi Forum, GRAVIS, Holy Cross Convent, Human Rights Law Network, Indian Social Institute, Indian Social Action Forum ,INSAF Bulletin, Institute for Minority Women, Institute for Social Democracy, Jadugoda, Janadhikar Samuh, Jananeethi, Janvikas, JUDAV, Lok Sangharsh Morcha, Lokshakti Abhiyan, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, MASUM, Media Action Group, Medico Friend Circle, Minorities Council, Muslim Women's Forum, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, National Economic Forum for Muslims, Nazareth Mahila Samiti, NCHRO, Nishan, North East Support Centre & Helpline, Orissa Development Action Forum, Orissa Seek, Save & Development Society, Oxfam India, Popular Education & Action Centre ,People's Movement against Nuclear Energy, People's Research Society, People's Watch, PRASHANT, Religious Harmony Commission (CBCI), Roshan Vikas, Saheli, Sahrwaru, Sajhi Duniya, Sama, Samarpan, Sanchetana, Sandarbh, Sangat, Sarva Dharam Sansad, Shambhavi, South Asia Citizens Web, South Asians for Human Rights , SUTRA, Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, Udayan, Urja Ghar, Vikas Adhyan Kendra, Yuv Shakti.