Former bureaucrat and activist Harsh Mander, who recently concluded a journey across seven States to places hit by communal violence called Karwan-e-Mohabbat , said on Saturday that Muslims, Dalits, adivasis and single women are most affected by hatred and appealed for support to their families.
Speaking at a conference on human rights organised by Majlis and the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism at the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, Mr. Mander said encounter killing has returned under the guise of lynching in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. Claiming that the country is riven by hatred and politics, he said, “The battle is not with the BJP or RSS; it is with ourselves. There is a message which says, ‘if you belong to a community, you are not safe’, and they are living in fear and hatred.”
Recounting a meeting with the family of a victim of hatred who happened to be Muslim, he said the family was convinced they wouldn’t get justice. He cited examples of hate crimes in Assam: in one of them, a man was mutilated and killed, while in another incident, the victim was stabbed 14 times. In Rajasthan, he said, a woman was labelled a witch and stripped in her son’s presence, only because her husband and his brother happened to die within a few days of each other, and their land was facing inheritance issues.
Fear and silence
Mr. Mander lamented the fact that most of the country is silent instead of coming out in support of those who have lost their loved ones to hate crimes. He said one of three reasons for this silence is an intimidated media. Also responsible are a feeling of security among those who don’t belong to a minority community, and latent hatred for minorities. “Fear is an alibi and not the reason for our silence. There is almost no local compassion and no one seems to be disturbed.”
The conference was also attended by Manisha Sethi, convener, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association, said victims of hate crimes are often made out to be guilty, and how a section of people are booked for the literature in their possession.
Priyadarshi Telang, convenor, Dalit Adivasi Adhikar Andolan, said budgets allocated for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is not usually used for their welfare by governments.
Ms. Telang claimed that though caste-based crimes are on the rise, many of them are not registered under the Atrocities Act.