“Inquilab zindabad!” (Long live the revolution!) is a cry that you can hear in season and out season across India, especially the bits with a strong Communist presence. There are usually long, slightly bedraggled lines of men and women somewhat dis-spiritedly marching along, calling for violent change with all the enthusiasm of a traveling salesman confronted with a client who allows his bulldog to do all the talking.
In the nation’s capital, for example, one set of dedicated protesters – following different causes – have all been making the trip to stand outside Parliament for decades without pause. They usually begin their march from NDA convener (is he still that?) George Fernandes’ house. For all I know, they shifted their starting point to his Lutyens bungalow when he got his Cabinet berth.
The point I’m trying to make here is that the word “revolt” in the Indian sense of it, is by and large an eccentricity more than anything else. I highly doubt that the people who dutifully and periodically register their support for a revolution on the streets of India do so with any actual hope of participating in one. And if they do, they might want to stock up on some vitamin and iron supplements because from the looks of them, they need it.
There are, of course, groups that actually resort to violent struggle. We call them naxals and to the citizen at large they remain beyond the pale while the government deems them terrorists. Interestingly, you can trace their roots back to West Bengal.
So much for a quick context. Now we have the current state of affairs in Calcutta – a city that is experiencing mob and riot scenes that it hasn’t experienced since Partition, I daresay. The violence was apparently kicked off when the All India Minority Forum apparently organized a peaceful protest against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen’s continued presence in India. The Forum felt Muslim sentiments were being disrespected by the authorities. This then bled into public resentment of the whole Rizwanur incident where a young Muslim man by the name of Rizwanur Rahman was allegedly murdered by his (very rich) Hindu father-in-law who may have subsequently bribed the police to cover it up.
Added to this very bad Hindi film were a whole bunch of terrible actors who are a lot more interested in blaming each other and can agree on only one thing – that the people who began pelting the police with stones and acid and other jolly things were dedicated troublemaking no-goodniks – and we almost don’t need to introduce the Nandigram bit.
What Nandigram bit?
Well, you must have noticed that there’s been a bit of bother in that general area? Reports of violence, rape, illegal police action, villagers evacuated and other goings on? Even if all that’s news to you, can you have missed this priceless pic of Mamata Banerjee leading from the front while riding pillion on some random dude’s bike? Another thing you may have missed? A large part (majority?) of Nandigram is populated by… Muslims. Ka-ching!
To recap, we now have the following causes for the riots in Calcutta – Taslima Nasreen, Rizwanur Rahman, Nandigram, CPM cadres, AIMF loons and assorted troublemakers out to just have a bit of a dust up. The army has been called in and at 50 policemen and civilians have been injured. Fun and games in the city of joy, etc etc.
Also read: Shreyashi Dastidar in The Telegraph