Thursday, March 1, 2012
Queers for Justice in Gujarat
This year, we mark the tenth anniversary of the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat, the worst of its kind in the recent history of our country.
We express our anger at how the man at the helm of the BJP State Government at the time, Chief Minister Narendra Modi, subsequently used this communal polarization to reap electoral success, extend his political power, and is poised to do the same once again in the forthcoming state elections. In these past ten years, along with his administration, Modi has delayed, obstructed, and attempted to sabotage the process of justice for the Muslim families that lost their kin to the violence that erupted in late February 2002. This violence continued unabated for several days with the studied passivity, and at times, even active encouragement of many in the BJP Governments at the State and Centre, who lacked the political and moral will to stop the carnage.
The BJP and the RSS have never been shy of proudly parading their Hindutva – the supremacist, right-wing Hindu ideology that envisions India as an exclusively Hindu nation with Muslims, Christians and other minorities as lesser citizens. While remaining true to this supremacist Hindutva ideology, Modi has also camouflaged it, with great expertise, in the shiny colours of the rhetoric of development and good governance. Publicly stoking the idea of wounded Hindu Gujarati pride, on the one hand, and trying to spin a story of development, good governance, and capital and economic investment on the other, Modi's administration has attempted to drown out the voices seeking justice for those affected in the violence of 2002, and rewrite the contemporary history of Gujarat. This is a dangerous obfuscation, one that we should always be alert to, and that we should always be ready to challenge. In the strongest terms possible, we condemn this public relations exercise that attempts to exorcise the ghosts of the Gujarat carnage, just as it fuels an undercurrent of enforced fear and silence that pervades Gujarati society today.
At Nigah, we maintain that it is impossible to be queer by circumscribing our politics to LGBTI rights alone, without turning our gaze to the wider world that also impacts us – a world that consists of prejudices, both around and beyond sexuality. As queer people, we are particularly conscious of the ability of words to marginalize people, and vehemently oppose actions that use physical and sexual violence to exert power, plunder and create a climate of insecurity, crippling fear and control. Freedom and justice, if they are not for everyone, are not freedom and justice at all. We see struggles against widespread injustices on the bases of gender, sexuality, religion, caste, class, language and region, as interconnected with each other.
On this tenth anniversary of the 2002 Gujarat carnage, we raise our voices, demanding justice for its many victims, and punishment to all those that are culpable, no matter what political position they occupy.
29th February 2012