In yet another incident of ABVP hooliganism, Sheetal Sathe of the Kabir Kala Manch was stopped from addressing a panel discussion called “Invisibility of Caste” in St. Xavier’s College’s cultural festival “Malhar”. To ensure Sathe’s non-participation, ABVP goons shot off a letter to the Mumbai Police Commissioner, Rakesh Maria, to pressurize the college administration to withdraw Sathe’s invitation. Branding her as a ‘Naxalite’ and ‘anti-national’, ABVP hooligans threatened that they would disrupt the program if it went ahead. This attempt to brand activists in order to gag their voices follows from a series of such incidents. Anyone who begins to assert their rights or exposes the inequalities in our society maintained by the present state machinery is immediately dubbed as a “Naxal” or “seditious” so that they can be arrested and tortured on baseless allegations. In the recent past, Maharashtra has specially gained notoriety for such witch-hunt. One would remember that it was precisely on this dubious branding that several KKM members were arrested (many are still behind bars) while others, including Sathe, were forced to go in to hiding. The recent acquittal of Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale from Nagpur Central Jail after four years of baseless incarceration hardly came as a relief for the democratic rights movement, as it is now faced with the challenge to get Comrade Hem of DSU, Prashant Rahi and Dr. GN Saibaba released from the same dungeons. All these gags and arrests of activists who speak out for justice and against oppression expose the duplicity and the inherently undemocratic character of the state, notwithstanding its hyperbole of being the ‘world’s largest democracy’.
|Students of FTII beaten up by ABVP goons, during a|
programme organised by the former where they invited
Kabir Kala Manch
Sheetal Sathe was conspicuous by her absence at the panel discussion and it is only ironical that the discussion was called “Invisibility of caste”! For fascist forces such as ABVP/BJP, the likes of Dina Nath Batra and other self-proclaimed custodians of so called Indian culture, it is all the more important to clamp down on discussions, protests and mobilizations that foreground the entrenched violent inequalities of our society that they perpetuate. And they do so both directly like the case above, as well through institutionalized penal instruments like the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations which depoliticize campuses & embolden the forces of Brahmanism & privatization. DSU condemns in the strongest possible terms the withdrawal by St. Xaviers’ College of Sheetal Sathe as one of the speakers and appeals to all progressive and democratic students to assertively confront such fascist forces and defeat their politics of threats and intimidation. We can in no way allow our academic spaces to be turned into the fiefdom of fascist forces!