The thumping electoral victory of Narendra Modi led BJP in this Lok Sabha polls has undoubtedly given fresh lease of life to the communal fascist forces in India. Needless to mention that this fascist machinery remains at work even when not in power. However, of late, the fascist brigade, at the helm of which is Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has tried to enforce its agenda of polarisation along communal lines throughout the country, both intensively as well as extensively. Be it the Trilokpuri riots in Delhi or the frenzy surrounding the all concocted ‘love jihad’; burning down of a church in North East Delhi or the recent ‘ghar wapasi’ (conversion) campaigns, the fascist engine has been running incessantly and spewing the communal venom. The latest in line of their attacks is their unwarrantable as well as unconstitutional claim over public spaces.
The following is a brief account of events which will make it more lucid to the reader. On the coming 19 December,2014, Naujawan Bharat Sabha,Delhi, is organising a cultural programme at Ramleela ground (officially called Rajeev Park),Sriram Colony,Khajoori in North East Delhi to commemorate the matyrs Ashfaqullah khan and Ramprasad Bismil, who were hanged to death by the British on this day in 1926. This day is being celebrated as Revolutionary Peoples’ Unity Day(Inquilabi Jan-ekjutta Diwas) and as a continuation of a protracted campaign being run by Naujawan Bharat Sabha in the wake of recent communal fascist upsurge in the country. However, the organisers of this programme are facing a real tough time in getting this event underway.
The reason being that the venue in question, i.e , Ramleela ground is purportedly a disputed area, at least this is what the local police authorities say. Although no permission is required to hold any programme at this ground, especially those in which no tent needs to be fixed, the NBS did give a written intimation of this programme to the SHO as well as DCP, North East, Delhi on 22 November,2014. However, on 1 December,2014, the SHO infomed the organisers that the programme cannot be held at the said venue as it is a disputed land. Moreover, he added that this cultural programme, which in fact is being envisaged as upholding the unity of Hindus and Muslims as was exemplified by the unflinching friendship of Bismil and Ashfaqullah, can cause law and order situation in the area.
Now lets see why this Ramleela ground in Khajoori is believed to be disputed. Khajoori khas in North East Delhi is predominantly a Muslim neighbourhood. Muslims account for at least 95 percent of the total population of this area. The entire region is categorised as unauthorized colony and had been included in the list of 917 colonies which were to be regularised as proposed by Shiela Dikshit led Congress government in 2012. Underdevelopment,state apathy and careful negligence are hallmark of such colonies and the case of Khajoori is no different. Ramleela ground, which is popularly called so as every year Ramleela is organised there, is situated in kachchi Khajoori (that part of Khajoori which lacks further in development). Besides Ramleela, namaz is also offered in its premises on both Ids. Other programmes too, are held occasionally in this ground. However, of late, and most significantly after BJP’s victory in Loksabha polls, the RSS has been holding its shakha every morning within its premises. Prior to this, no history of any shakha in this area can be traced. Most of the people who attend the shakha are not the residents of Khajoori, but come from the adjoining areas of Sonia Vihar and Karawal Nagar.
Apart from this development, another notable episode surfaced, which seems less of a coincidence and more of a well thought-out strategy aimed at communal polarisation ahead of Delhi Assembly polls. Earlier, whenever Ramleela was held on this ground, a wooden stage used to be erected as is the wont everywhere. However, this year, quite significantly, the organisers of Ramleela got a permanent concrete stage constructed, and that too, without the mandatory approval of the local authority which in this case happens to be Delhi Development Authority (DDA). And this is not all. These self-styled custodians of Hindu belief barred everybody else from using this stage. The issue regarding the illegal construction has been taken to the cout now and is yet to be decided.
Although nobody else is allowed to make use of this stage, what is of consequence here is that the RSS every morning hoists its flag atop this ‘disputed’ stage. And if this seems too brazen an act to the reader, then this doesn’t stop here. The RSS men have now started to treat this ground as their personal fiefdom. This year,on 6 October, on the occasion of Id, they refused to leave the ground when they were asked to, as the Muslim inhabitants of this locality had to offer their customary namaz. Soon, it broke out into an altercation and it was only after the police arrived that the RSS men left threatening with dire consequences. The following morning, they gathered people from adjoining areas and assembled in the ground. What ensued was inflammatory speeches and slogan-shouting by their pracharaks. And all this was done in front of the local police. Following this incident, the RSS people now come to the ground escorted by policemen. The police presence is maintained round the clock on the ground. When the shakha is in progress noone is allowed entry in the ground. On sundays,this becomes even worse as the number of people attending this shakha increases and their stay becomes longer,on purpose. Throughout their presence, access is denied to everybody else to the ground.
Now a few child-like questions crop up in one’s mind. Why, if everybody else is prohibited from entering the park as it is a ‘disputed land’, the RSS people are allowed to hold shakha every morning? Why, if Naujawan Bharat Sabha is asked to obtain permission from the concerned authority to hold a 2-hour long programme on a particular day, the RSS is exempted from doing the same? How is it that the RSS men make provocative speeches in police presence and no action is taken against them? How is it that a cultural programme in the memory ot the martyrs is seen as a threat to law and order and organising RSS shakhas everyday as something innocuous? Why is the police protection being extended to the RSS people and why can’t the police ensure safety and security on the day of the programme? What is the cause of special privilege and impunity RSS enjoys? When the representatives of NBS met Delhi police officials in this regard, the answers to these questions became quite clear. Throughout our meetings with the police officials, the entire police department acted as an unofficial spokesperson for the RSS. What the DCP, NE, had to say in this regard was even more shocking. He very categorically stated that how can we stop RSS from holding the shakha when they have been doing so throughout the country for years now? One can easily discern which way the police department is tilting.
However, the DDA has asked the organisers to go ahead with the programme. We, therefore, call upon all the genuinely secular, progressive and justice-loving people and organisations to assemble in large numbers at 2 p.m. on 19 December,2014 at Ramleela ground, Khajoori to mark this day as the day of revolutionary peoples’ unity for which our martyrs’ stood as well as reclaim our right on our public spaces.
A Report by ‘Naujawan Bharat Sabha’, Delhi Unit