Saffron War: Yogi's politics is dangerous for India

Photo credit: Rajeev Yadav
[Listen to the CNS Audio Recording/ Podcast of Dr Roop Rekha Verma's address before the screening of Saffron War]
[हिंदी] The documentary film, "Saffron War: A War Against Nation", showcases how dangerous Hindu fundamentalist forces can be to the values upheld in Indian constitution. Not only Gorakhpur, but entire eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) is under the tight terrorising grip of fundamentalism in the name of God! The film was screened at the UP Press Club in Lucknow on 16th April 2011 which documents how Yogi Aditya Nath, a Member of Parliament (MP) from Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), uses aggressive religious fanaticism to not only have a tight hold over entire eastern UP but also has changed the character of 'Gorakhnath Peeth'.

This 'Peeth' was earlier known for its progressive and humane stand against caste system in Hinduism, which now stands completely soaked with saffron and known for Hindu fundamentalist forces led by Yogi Aditya Nath.

And so has changed the atmosphere in Gorakhpur and Eastern UP - from secular to saffron. "This eastern UP region was earlier home to egalitarian, leftist and progressive social movements. Progressive literary personalities like Dr Rahi Masoom Raza hailed from this region" said Professor (Dr) Roop Rekha Verma, former Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University and a very respected social activist from 'Saajhi Duniya.' Now this entire region of Eastern UP stands painted with Hindu fundamentalism spreading hatred, terror and divisive feelings across the communities. "Eastern UP was a land believed to be strong enough not to let fundamentalism take roots in its soil" said Professor (Dr) Roop Rekha Verma.

"Years back when the slogan "गोरखपुर में रहना है तो योगी योगी कहना होगा" (if you have to live in Gorakhpur, then you have to chant 'Yogi Yogi') was first heard in Gorakhpur, people in Lucknow were very concerned. Like-minded citizens were gravely concerned at this slogan in Gorakhpur and met to contemplate ways in which to counter such divisive attempts by hardliners. Such fundamentalism was also spreading in other parts of the country, and many of us were occupied wholly in countering their nefarious designs leaving us with little time to begin building a social response in Gorakhpur afresh. It was felt that we should partner with political parties that do not have a communal agenda. I had then convened meetings with Ahmad Hasan of Samajwadi Party and Prakash Karat from left parties to acquaint them of this dangerous trend in Gorakhpur and explore if their party cadres will be able to counter this fundamentalism. It was in their political interest and our social concerns were in the same lines too. But both Samajwadi Party and Left party representatives said that there is no reason to worry and their cadres can easily nip this budding fundamentalism in Gorakhpur. Over the past years we have seen how they failed to counter such forces and how not only Gorakhpur but entire eastern UP slipped under the tight grip of Hindu hardliners" said Professor (Dr) Roop Rekha Verma.

"I was part of the fact-finding team that went after the Mau riots. We had reported that Hindu Yuva Sena representatives had fired the first bullet that led to the riot. Otherwise there was no possibility of any riot in Mau. Now today the situation has worsened to such an extent that entire region of eastern UP is reeling under aggressive Hindutva forces" said Professor (Dr) Roop Rekha Verma.

One of the key reflections made by Professor (Dr) Roop Rekha Verma was on the deep-rooted association between fundamentalist forces and those patriarchs who are perpetrating violence against women. "The state of UP has a worrisome situation with eastern UP under the grip of religious fundamentalism and the western UP raging with patriarchal social structures that put women at risk of violence and other abuses. Patriarchy is rampant across our country but the degree to which it exists in western UP is indeed alarming. It becomes very easy for religious fundamentalists to join forces with those patriarchs" said Professor (Dr) Roop Rekha Verma.

Sadly the long overdue response from the government to counter such religious fundamentalism is missing, said Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee for emergent leadership (2002) and convener of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM).

Advocate Mohammed Shoaib said that Saffron War not only reveals the terrorist activities that are carried out by a specific community but also reveals that how dalits, women and children of hindu community are prepared and conditioned with communal feelings.

The film "Saffron War: A War Against Nation" is in Hindi language, of 43 minutes duration, and is directed by young filmmakers: Rajeev Yadav, Shahnawaz Alam and Lakshman Prasad. The event witnessed the presence of Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Arundhati Dhuru, Ayodhya-Faizabad based senior journalist Suman Gupta, senior journalist Ambrish Kumar, senior journalist Siddharth Kalhans, Ravi Shekhar among others.

Bobby Ramakant - CNS 

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