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Concern over “creeping Fascism” in popular discourse of the country

Mohammad Ali
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A book “Hum Sab Ayodhya” released to mark demolition of Babri Masjid

Social activist and head of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana Aruna Roy (centre), former Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma (left), economist and political commentator Professor Prabhat Patnaik (right) during release of the book 'Ham Sab Ayodhya'in Delhi on Thursday.- Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
Social activist and head of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana Aruna Roy (centre), former Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma (left), economist and political commentator Professor Prabhat Patnaik (right) during release of the book 'Ham Sab Ayodhya'in Delhi on Thursday.- Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

To mark the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya by the Right wing mob on this day 20 years ago, concerned citizens including historians, lawyers, activists, academicians, journalists and students gathered at Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust office on Ferozeshah Road here on Thursday, expressing concern at the “creeping Fascism” in the popular discourse of the country. They emphasised how important it was to fight to save and sustain the religious and cultural pluralism amid the multipronged onslaught of the Right wing ideology.

Remembering the December 6, 1992, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan activist Aruna Roy said weeks before the demolition when the communal frenzy was being built up, it was completely unimaginable that the Right wing slogans for the demolition will actually call the bluff.

“But when it actually happened we realised that it was an assault on the very fabric and the basic ideals of this country. It also reminded how important it was to fight for those ideals,” said Ms. Roy while releasing a book “Hum Sab Ayodhya” (We are all Ayodhya) which contains photographs, paintings, drawing and reproduction of ancient texts which were part of SAHMAT exhibition organised in 17 cities across the country in the immediate aftermath of the demolition. The exhibition showed how “Ayodhya had a very rich history, a complex past, representing in a microcosm what India is like.”

Talking about the book, activist Ram Rahman said the purpose of the exhibition was to invoke the rich legacy of the common culture to counter the frenzied propaganda which preceded and followed the demolition.

“We wanted to show that in Ayodhya mosque domes arose among the shikharas of temples and Muslim derveshes lived cheek by jowl with Hindu purohits . And given such a rich cultural history of the city what happened on December 6, 20 years ago was a cruel denial of so much of its own past.”

While referring to the demolition, Prof. Prabhat Patnaik put the issue in perspective by highlighting how demolition was part of the “counter revolution” led by the neo-liberal economic forces from the global finance which also sustained the ideology of Hindutva. “The fact that you can demolish the mosque and get away with that opened the floodgates of imagination to other targets in the country.”

He said what was more worrisome was the creeping Fascism in the popular discourses and people’s psyche in the country. Providing several instances, Prof. Patnaik said: “You have got a situation when the entire country, from the President and the Prime Minister downwards, is intimidated to pay homage to some body who was perfect example of a classically Fascist personality, is indicative of the shift which has happened over all these years towards Fascism becoming a part of the common sense or the popular discourse.”

He referred to “the fact that the entire country was gleeful about the hanging of a young boy, when he was just a minion of some other forces. And a massive communal carnage is going on in Assam with people ignoring the human cost involved, shows how insensitive we have become as a country.”

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