Rakesh Agrawal Kumaon

‘Hounding Uttarkashi Muslims Is An Attempt To Hide Govt Failure on Jobs, Joshimath, Other Fronts’

Rakesh Agrawal Kumaon

Rakesh Agrawal, a writer and activist based in Uttarakhand, says the planned marking of Muslim households in Uttarakhand brings back memories of Nazi era. His views

A section of Uttarakhand citizens are concerned and anguished over the recent attacks on Muslim households in Uttarkashi. The ‘marked attack’ on the shopkeepers, whereby their shops are marked, bring back bad memories of a similar phenomenon during the Nazi era in Germany and Europe. The disgraceful design is clear. It is meant to camouflage the failure of the current BJP government in the state, and at the Centre, on the economic and social front.

The Centre and state governments have failed to provide secured employment, health and education to the youth, and the ordinary folks in far-flung hill villages. There have been repeated leaks in the entrance exams, while young people have protested in Dehradun demanding a CBI probe into the recruitment scams in February, 2023. They were brutally attacked by the police. Now connect the dots.

Earlier, a teenage girl, Ankita Bhandari, was brutally murdered, after she refused to ‘comfort’ the wealthy guests at a resort in Haridwar, owned illegally by the brothers of a BJP minister. . Also, there is a case of a Dalit man who was first abducted, then killed by his in-laws for marrying their upper-caste daughter in Almora district; Jagdish Chandra (39), a Dalit political activist from Panuadhokhan village, was found dead in a car in Bhikiasain town in early September last year.

Then, in Haldwani, thousands of, deprived and disenfranchised people, mostly Muslims, and also poor Hindus, were given the order to vacate their homes. Consequently, the Supreme Court intervened and stayed it. In Joshimath, the entrance to Badrinath, one of the holiest char-dhams of the Hindus, thousands have been protesting since months, as hundreds of homes have developed cracks and sunk, thanks to the so-called top-heavy and corrupt development model, along with the many dams and hydro-electrify projects, including the 520 MW Tapovan-Vishnugad project.

Besides, hundreds of homes have developed cracks en-route to the Rishikesh-Karnprayag Railway Lines. Since this government has nothing positive to show, the time-tested communal card, while targeting the peaceful minorities, seems to be the preparation for 2024 elections, using the tried and tested Hindu-Muslim hate narrative. This also shows the desperation of the BJP, Uttarakhand being a small state, sending merely five MPs.

Is Uttarkhand a peaceful state? It may appear on the surface to a casual tourist, given its cool, green and serene atmosphere, but if you scratch the surface a bit, you can see a different picture. Uttarakhand is the only state in the country where upper caste Hindus are in the majority. Thakurs constitute 35 per cent of the total population, followed by Brahmins (25 per cent); together, they constitute over 60% of the population. Most of them stood solidly behind the BJP in the last assembly elections.

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The upper caste communities have been largely prejudiced, not against Muslims only, but also against Dalits and Adivasis, whom they call Shilpkars and Doms. It must be mentioned that the minor girl in Purola was a Dalit; she was having a consensual relationship with a Saini youngster, who was running a shop originally in Najibabad, UP.

Then, in every hill village, the hate campaign is silently going on since decades, where RSS-controlled Saraswati Shishu Mandirs are working and regular RSS shakhas are being held, brainwashing people, who may have never seen or met a Muslim, but are deeply prejudiced against them. So, the entire Muslim community is being targeted, though they are just about 1% of the population, as per the 2011 census. Hence, it seems a bit too desperate for the BJP!

Some forward-looking and peace-loving people have been protesting, including members of the Uttarakhand Insaniyat Manch. They submitted a memorandum against the hate campaign to the District Magistrate of Dehradun on June 7. A group of Supreme Court lawyers have written an open letter to Uttarakhand Governor, Lieutenant General Gurmit Singh, about the government’s inaction on repeated instances of hate speech in the state. A state-wide conference is being organised in Dehradun to oppose the hounding of Muslim citizens. The Left parties have been openly campaigning against it.

The CM is also organising a meeting on it on July 1 in Srinagar, Garhwal, a major hill town in Garhwal. But, the main opposition party, Congress, which is the only party which assumes power periodically, is maintaining a strategic silence. They are clearly scared of losing the Hindu votes, despite Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Mohabbat ka Caravan’!

The narrator, a doctorate in international relations from JNU, is an ecologist who writes for TerraGreen, Civil Society, Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), Mainstream and the Indian Journal of Social Work brought out by the Tata  Institute of Social Sciences (TSSS). He is the author of Voices from the Ground: Unsung Heroes of Uttarakhand, (Aakar Books), a novel, Elated Dreams (BFC Publication), and an anthology of poems, Luster of Love (KDP).

As told to Amit Sengupta

Read More: lokmarg.com

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Vijay khandekar
Vijay khandekar
11 months ago

Commendable Rakesh

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