Joint Statement condemning the ABVP disruption of the screening of the film, “Muzaffarnagar baaqi hai-Muzaffarnagar eventually”
Montage, the film society of Kirori Mal College in the University of Delhi was screening “Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai- Muzaffarnagar Eventually” this afternoon, i.e. August 1, 2015. After about one hour of screening, around 30-40 ABVP workers, who were not students, barged into the seminar room where the event was in process and loudly demanded that the film be stopped. Many of the teachers and students who were assembled there tried to talk to them but they were not in any mood to listen. Their argument was that they had watched 10 minutes of the film (which is actually 136 minutes long) and that it offended them.
The students and teachers who had come to watch the film refused to leave and tried to resume the show. However, they aggressively forced them to stop the screening by shouting and physically threatening even the senior teachers who were there. The police, present at that time, stood by without doing anything to stop them.
The harshest of verbal criticism, debate and dialogue can be welcomed, but the manner in which the persons who entered the seminar room and threatened everyone physically is highly condemnable.
“Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai – Muzaffarnagar Eventually” is a film by Nakul Singh Sawhney, which revisits the riots that happened in Muzzaffarnagar before the 2014 elections through which the BJP came to power. Over 60 people, mainly Muslims, were killed in these riots, many Muslim women were raped and up to 50, 000 Muslims displaced out of their homes and forced to take shelter in refugee camps. Sawhney travelled to the western Uttar Pradesh districts soon after the riots and interviewed survivors, residents and local leaders and various activists in an attempt to understand these happenings. It is this film that the ABVP violently stopped from being screened today. By doing this, the ABVP is actually trying to stop the real story about the Muzaffarnagar violence from reaching the Delhi University community.
We condemn the way in which the ABVP, the student wing of the BJP, is trying to deliberately suppress all news about the wrong doings and violence of their Caste Hindu politics. We know that they have systematically constructed the Muslim community as a target of attack. This we know is an age-old strategy that became even more virulent with the implementation of the Mandal Commission. After this there was a deliberate attempt to forcefully unite the Dalitbahujans under the rubric of Hinduism, against the imagined enemy of the Muslim. In Muzaffarnagar itself, such caste Hindu politics have destroyed the unity that existed for long between the Jats and the Muslims. This has been a cunning attempt to hinder the very growth of Dalit and Bahujan politics in Uttar Pradesh. In fact, it is said that one of today’s attackers rushed towards a senior teacher of Kirori Mal shouting “Main Hindu hoon, main Jaat hoon, main tujhe jhaapad maar doonga!” (I am a Hindu and a Jat, I will slap you).
We strongly condemn this incident as yet another attempt by the caste Hindu forces of the ABVP/BJP to spread an aggressive and violent politics. As one of the students from Muzaffarnagar who had come to watch the show had said: “I too am from Muzaffarnagar, and this film shows the truth. I want everyone to watch it. What they are doing here is a demonstration of what happened in Muzaffarnagar”.
We also want to add that this is clearly a way of harassing the student community, which thinks towards a healthy and democratic society and the student polity that endeavours to hold opinions independently. We appeal to the student community to come together to resist this.
This Statement is being jointly issued and endorsed by the following signatories:
Ambedkar Reading Group, University of Delhi
Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, IIT Madras
Ambedkar Students’ Association, University of Hyderabad
Ambedkarite Students’ Association,Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai & Concerned Students from IIT Bombay
[Courtesy: Ambedkar Reading Group]