Protest against killing of Mohsin Shaikh by Hindu communal forces

Upon hearing the news of Mohsin Sheikh’s murder, office-bearers of DYFI and several other mass organizations decided to organize a protest demonstration next evening at Azad Maidan in the state capital Mumbai. Azad Maidan happens to be the only open spot in Mumbai where authorities allow demonstrations and public gatherings.

But when DYFI activists met police authorities on June 5 morning to inform them of the planned protest programme, the officers refused even to accept the intimation letter. DYFI leaders were abused and warned against holding the programme! In the evening, dozens of police personnel were stationed at Azad Maidan threatening to arrest the organisers if the demonstration was held. But the police plans to thwart the programme failed as protesters gathered in large numbers.

Hundreds of activists assembled at Azad Maidan on June 5 evening, defying the intimidation by the Mumbai Police and held a protest demonstration against the brutal murder of Mohsin Sheikh by rightwing Hindutva forces. The protest programme was organized jointly by DYFI, SFI, AIDWA, All India Secular Forum and Communalism Combat magazine.

Dr. Irfan Engineer of All India Secular Forum, Javed Anand of Communalism Combat, CPI(M) state secretariat member and Mumbai district secretary Mahendra Singh, SFI Maharashtra President Mohan Jadhav, DYFI State Secretary Preethy Sekhar, Salim Alwari, Dr. Azimuddin and Ashok Pawar spoke at the meeting.

All the speakers flayed the police for its attempt to thwart the protest programme. On the one hand, fascist criminals encouraged by BJP’s ascendancy to central government are free to roam the towns of Maharashtra intimidating, assaulting and murdering innocents. On the other hand, even Azad Maidan is being sought to be made out of bounds for secular activists to hold a peaceful gathering.

Maharashtra police has an infamous record of open partisanship towards rightwing Hindutva forces. The participation of uniformed police personnel in last year’s Dhule riots is well-known. Persecution of Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Srinivasan of Palghar jointly by the police and Shiv Sena goons last year for a Facebook remark is another incident that came to light recently.

In another shameful episode last year, the police machinery and the Shiv Sena had joined hands to intimidate Smt Pushpa Bhave, well-known intellectual, who had protested against the decision to give the name of Bal Thackeray to the stage of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan session at Chiplun. In response to her statement rightly opposing the Sahitya Sammelan’s decision, Shiv Sena leaders had publicly threatened her and ‘prohibited’ her from going to Konkan region. Aligning themselves shamelessly with the Shiv Sena, police authorities in Chiplun cancelled a symposium which they had decided to hold in Chiplun in which Smt. Pushpa Bhave was one of the panelists invited to speak. What is more, the police went on to issue orders asking Smt. Bhave not to enter Konkan!

Cases of the nexus of Hindutva goons and the police in Maharashtra are innumerable. It is well-known that the Justice Srikrishna Commission report had pointed out the nexus between sections of the police and communal forces in the December 1992-January 1993 anti-Muslim pogrom in Mumbai. Non-implementation of the Srikrishna Commission report by successive Congress-NCP governments is a telling instance of the character of these ruling parties. This gives legitimacy to majoritarian communal discourse and violent intimidation of minorities.

The speakers at the Azad Maidan protest demonstration raised all the above issues and called upon all the secular forces to unite against the threat of semi-fascism in Maharashtra. Mahendra Singh pointed out that organizations like the Hindu Rashtra Sena are feeling empowered with the Narendra Modi government assuming office at the Centre. The Pune murder, he said, is part of a larger project to destroy the secular democratic nature of our society. All the speakers demanded prompt prosecution of Mohsin Sheikh’s murderers that will lead to definite conviction. The protesters also demanded that the government must provide financial support to the family of Mohsin who was the only earning member of his family.

The organisations which came together to hold the demonstration have decided to conduct protest programmes in Pune and other parts of Maharashtra to force the government to act firmly against the semi-fascist forces perpetrating violence in the state.

Last modified on Thursday, 30 October 2014 11:43

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