The hate speeches at the Dharma Sansad (religious parliament) in Haridwar were more of an assault on Indian values than a threat to Muslims, a gathering of Kolkatans asserted on Thursday.
“Secularism is not imbibed in the Constitution for nothing. It is there because it reflects the character of Indians. The speeches at Haridwar are an attack on the Constitution,” said Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, a retired Supreme Court judge.
Ganguly was one of the speakers at a discussion titled “Death cult in Haridwar”, organised by the Bengal chapter of the Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity.
“The fascist call given from the dais is also against the basic tenets of Hinduism. No true Hindu would think of killing a fellow citizen for practising another faith,” said Ganguly, who addressed the gathering over the phone. The organisers said he was unwell.
Jawhar Sircar, former bureaucrat and elevated to the Rajya Sabha by Trinamul, who also gave a virtual speech, connected the hate speeches to the BJP’s electoral setbacks. “The BJP has been routed in Bengal and defeated in Tamil Nadu. Except Assam and a few places in the Northeast, the party has lost almost every byelection. They had to withdraw the farm bills. Mister Modi is on the backfoot. That is why they are playing the underarm tactic of provocation,” said Sircar, the former Union culture secretary.
“But a bulk of India is secular and democratic. Modi came to power but with only 34 per cent vote share. It is time for the majority to unite irrespective of political colours. We should not take it (the hate speeches) as an attack on Muslims but as an attack on all of us,” said Sircar.
Ratan Khasnabis, professor of economics and one of the conveners of the forum, said the “hooligans who gave the call to kill Muslims and the people behind them wanted to create a Hindu Pakistan”.
Speakers at the discussion titled “Death cult in Haridwar”, organised by the Bengal chapter of the Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity on Thursday.Telegraph picture
“Pakistan was created on the basis of religion. It has turned out to be a failed state. We, Indians, chose to live together. This debate was settled 75 years ago,” said Khasnabis.
Shubham Pandey, a student leader from JNU who grew up in Kolkata, was among the speakers. He stressed the need to combat communalism at the “micro-level”.
“We should look inside our families, groups of friends and the nooks and corners in our neighbourhoods. Are we ready to put relationships, friendships and social interests at stake for secularism? Before making lofty speeches, we should look at the root cause of the problem,” said Pandey, who is pursuing a PhD in sociology.
On the alleged delay in police action on people accused of making hate speeches at Haridwar, Pandey said the police force was part of the society.
“Years of upbringing cannot be undone in a year’s training course which has five marks on sensitisation,” he said.
Thursday’s programme, at Iran Society on Kyd Street in the central business district of Kolkata, was attended by community leaders from different faiths. Multiple speakers talked about the Modi regime’s “bias” against Christians, which they said, was reflected in the freeze on the foreign funding source of the Missionaries of Charity.
“Christians have contributed so much to the education and healthcare systems in this country. The sisters of the Missionaries of Charity criss-crossed Bengal with relief and medical help during the pandemic,” said Anjelina Mantosh, who heads the Catholic Association of Bengal, which is more than 100 years old.
Calcutta High Court demands inmate report from Presidency superintendent
Calcutta High Court.File photo
A vacation division bench of Calcutta High Court on Thursday criticised the superintendent of the Presidency Correctional Home after one of the inmates, granted bail by a subordinate court, went missing following his “release” from jail.
The division bench of Justice Shampa Sarkar and Justice Bibek Ranjan De directed the superintendent to produce relevant documents relating to arrest and subsequent “release” of the accused. The report has to be submitted before the regular bench on January 4, when the court reopens.