Nearly 360 academics from around the world (as of 8:45 am on March 2, 2020) have signed a strongly worded statement against the ongoing violence in northeast Delhi, where right-wing mobs have vandalised Muslim mosques and burnt down establishments and keep the national capital in a state of constant anxiety, calling it an “anti-Muslim pogrom with eerily familiar echoes of the modus operandi deployed by the RSS and its affiliates 18 years ago in Gujarat, and more recently in Uttar Pradesh”.
The academics are affiliated with most of India’s better funded ‘élite’ science and social science institutions as well as dozens of others, plus universities in Germany, Japan and Singapore, the UK and the US. The statement notes that the institutional affiliation has provided solely for the purpose of identification and “don’t indicate the official positions of the institutions”.
Acknowledging that “there have been deaths across religious divides”, the statement reads, “We place the blame for all these deaths squarely on the fascist upper-caste Hindutva forces who have orchestrated this pogrom. We also emphatically appeal to fellow progressive-minded individuals to recognise that there is a world of difference between the violence of these fanatical mobs and attempts made to defend one’s life, family, home and livelihood against this violence. We stand firmly in solidarity with the affected families in this regard—there are no two sides to this story, there is no nuance, only senseless violence fuelled by the communal agenda of the upper-caste Hindu right-wing.”
The authors also recall that the Delhi violence follows a spate of “sickening attacks on students in Jamia, AMU and JNU, is happening with the complicity of the Delhi police, who are acting in near-perfect coordination with the right-wing mobs, either by actively assisting them or by turning a blind eye to their actions.” They add that they don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the Delhi high court judge “who called the Delhi police to account for its wilful inaction was transferred on the same day he held the emergency hearings”. (Editor’s note: Links added.)
The signatories’ demands include “a judicial inquiry … to investigate the actions of the Delhi police”, a ban on “terrorist organisations like the Bajrang Dal which … which have been emboldened under the Modi regime” and “immediate and adequate [compensation for] those whose houses, shops and livelihoods have been destroyed”.
The full statement is available to read and sign up to here.