JJSS’s Kamayani Swami highlights the need to come together to deal with notorious elements running amok.
Bajrang Dal goons attacked a peaceful crowd gathered in Patna on Monday. The crowd had gathered at Kargil Chowk, Gandhi Maidan as part of a citizen’s initiative to discuss and understand Article 370 and the recent developments in Kashmir. Veteran activist Ashish Ranjan from grassroots organisation Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan and Sumant from Communist Party of India (CPI) were seriously hurt. Ashish’s glasses broke.
“The general bystanders were listening [to the program]. We were about 60-70 people. The program was an initiative by citizens from different walks of life. Since Article 370 is a complex issue, we just thought of listening to the speakers. We were just leaving for Araria and thought that before we catch the bus we could attend the program. The speakers were explaining the provisions of the article, and the bystanders were curious. It would be wrong to say that the bystanders were violent or anything. They were hearing what the speakers had to say.
The people from Bajrang Dal, who attacked us were about 20-30 in numbers and clearly had planned to attack the crowd. The men in the mob, claiming to be BJP supporters first started abusing the protestors with derogatory words. They said, “These people are from Tukde Tukde gang. Somebody from the crowd said that Tukde Tukde has happened because of the abrogation of Article 370 and not because of us. The bystanders or the crowd wasn’t the one which attacked us. I was sitting that time and was completely stunned at this, we didn’t expect this. Someone held my hand and pulled me.
When they started beating us, we kept trying to talk to them, “Why are you beating us?” We believe in non-violence. So we kept telling them that don’t beat us and let’s talk.
Then they began swinging lathis and hitting people randomly with sticks and fist. Ashish was hit physically and his glasses also broke off. Sumant was also badly beaten on his head and was taken to hospital for treatment, although fortunately he is not grievously injured in the head. Others who got hurt due to the beatings are Mona Jha, Anish, Ankur and many others.
The aberration to this was a uniformed officer who had a lathi in hand, the kind that the Bajrang Dal goons had as well. He also beat people up, and we kept questioning him about the need to beat us. The rest of the police force, however, was trying to separate the crowd and they didn’t hurt us in any way.”
“We have attended several meetings earlier and faced obstructions but this time they were especially emboldened.”
It must be noted that yesterday, the government of India announced the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. Before this, the state witnessed an extraordinary military presence and panic prevailed in the state. As this was announced in the Parliament, the people of Kashmir were forced into a state of complete shut-down. All the internet, mobile, cellular services have been disconnected, leaders of the opposition have been put under house arrest. There has been a curfew imposed ever since.
On the need to respond to this extraordinary situation, Kamayani said, “There is a need to build solidarity from within and not just for namesake. We need a massive civil rights movement and do things together.”