Friday, May 13, 2011

[ZESTCaste] A docu that lays bare the real face of eastern Uttar Pradesh

Posted on 12 May 2011

A docu that lays bare the real face of eastern Uttar Pradesh
Saffron War
By Rajiv Yadav, Shahnawaz Alam and L Prashad
61 min | Rs. 95

With the rise of the Hindutva movement over the past three decades,
there has also been an attempt to understand this phenomenon through
essays, articles and films. These films have also served the purpose
of spreading awareness about the rising threat of communal politics,
and dangers to national integration due to the rising communal tide.
The Mumbai violence, Gujarat genocide and Kandhamal riots amongst
others have been objects of serious study and analysis. Saffron War: A
war against nation is the latest in a series of significant works.
This film is a combination of analysis of Hindutva ideology and its
cooption of Dalits into communal politics where they are made to
believe that the real problems of society are coming not from the
caste structure but from the Muslims.

This film is made in the backdrop of Gorakhpur, where Yogi Adityanath,
a BJP MP, has been spreading his tentacles aggressively. The film's
major contribution is to show how Gorakhnath Math has been gradually
shifted away from its struggle against caste oppression to hatred for
the minorities. Through interviews and visuals, the film shows the
spread of venom against minorities. The language used by the Yogi and
his followers comes under the category of 'hate speech'. The prejudice
and bias against minorities, Muslims in particular, is openly asserted
in public meetings where Muslims are presented in negative light and
violence is openly propagated and promoted. An imaginary fear of
minorities is projected and the propagation of violence is done in the
garb of defending the Hindu religion. The degree of aggression in
language is shocking. In many meetings when hate speeches are made,
the police stands as passive listeners, unmindful that such hate
speech should invite strong legal action.

Major mobilisation is done in the name of Adityanath and the majority
of people who are mobilised are Dalits and OBCs. They begin with
Savarkar's definition of Hindutva and make the concept of a Hindu
Rashtra as the basis for other hate propaganda. Adityanath's
propaganda says the voting rights of Muslims should be taken away.
Gorakhpur and surrounding areas must be one of the few places where
Savarkar is quoted so blatantly. The emphasis on making Uttar Pradesh
like Gujarat comes up regularly. On the lines of Bajrang Dal, there is
the Arya Veer Sena and the Hindu Yuva Vahini training the youth in the
use of arms, with Har Har Mahadev as the war cry.

The film brings out clearly how the earlier Bharat Milap processions
in the area symbolised Hindu-Muslim brotherhood, but now anti-Muslim
sentiments are invoked. This has seriously intimidated the minorities
in the area. The role of these forces in the Mau riots of 2005 is well
brought out in this film. But it should have connected more with the
national phenomenon. The film does need technical improvisation.

Ram Puniyani is a former professor at IIT Mumbai & recipient of
National Communal Harmony Award.


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