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14 Oct 2008

People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) finds the activities of the Hinduva group, in particular that of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, repugnant and considers them a major threat to social peace and harmony. However we do not support the demand being made for proscribing these organizations as PUDR is in principle opposed to the politics of proscription. PUDR has long argued that politics of imposing a ban on an organization, which means preventing them from propagating their ideology and mobilizing people, is detrimental for India’s constitutional democracy. A ban imposed on political ideology, however abhorrent such ideology may appear, amounts to constricting legitimate political activity. In disallowing people an opportunity to publicly disagree or debate the views, it makes such views go underground and simmer and fester in our body politic. Banning an organization means curtailment of the fundamental freedom to hold political beliefs. Moreover bans stigmatize and isolate particular politics by criminalizing it, provide a handle to the state to silence dissent and persecuting people for their beliefs and convictions. We reiterate our demand for lifting the ban on all organizations, such as SIMI, ULFA, CPI (Maoists), NSCN etc. proscribed under the UAPA.

The context for the ban on VHP and BD is however a little different. Unlike most of the organizations banned under the UAPA which have been banned for political dissent and opposing the state, VHP and BD have extensive state patronage and are allowed to indulge in sectarian violence with impunity. So one of the major reasons for this demand being raised at all today is because both central and state governments have studiously downplayed heinous crimes committed by Hindutva organizations and have deliberately allowed them to get away without being brought to book for murder, rape, arson, and loot. By imposing a ban the government now wishes to make it appear as if they are atoning for their lack of will in providing justice to those who have suffered at the hands of Hindutva forces. However, whether the ban will at all be enforced is another matter altogether, given successive governments’ lack of will in curbing the activities of organizations like the VHP and Bajrang Dal. Moreover with no action being taken against the fountainhead of these organizations, the RSS, the cadres of BD and VHP can quite simply disappear by being moved to a variety of organizations that have been promoted by RSS, thus proving the ban to be futile. If the state is sincere and keen to curb criminal activities of BD and VHP then it should start prosecuting all those guilty of the anti-Christian violence in Orissa Karnataka and Kerala.

We need more freedom to fight fascism and authoritarianism rather than curbs on our freedom of expression and association.

Harish Dhawan and Nagraj Adve
(Secretaries, PUDR)