Dalit-Muslim unity

It is high time for Muslim and Dalits to engage in political cooperation.

Aatif Ahmad Mehjoor
Srinagar, Publish Date: Mar 12 2018 11:22PM | Updated Date: Mar 12 2018 11:22PM
Dalit-Muslim unityFile Photo

The rise and consolidation of the saffron fascists in India poses an existential challenge to both Indian Muslims and Indian Dalits. The two communities not only share the status of being the primary target of the saffron forces, but also share a history of deprivation, discrimination and economic exclusion since independence. Despite Dr Ambedkar and Maulana Azad being at the forefront of the independence movement, Dalits and Muslims have been viewed as a fifth column. It is time for Muslims and Dalits to unite and work together to protect their interests. 

 

If one looks at the demographics of India, the figures are startling. Muslims constitute 15% of the India’s population. Dalits are also another 15% of the population. Caste Hindus only constitute 65% of India’s population, with the remaining 5% consisting of other communities such as Christians, Sikhs, and Jains. Despite representing only 65% of India’s population, the saffron brigade claims the right to decide who is and isn’t a loyal Indian and who is anti-national. It claims the right to rule in perpetuity at all levels of government – central, state and municipal. It has engaged in a campaign of vilification against all the political forces in India who stand for secularism and progress, such as the Congress, the Left parties, and the various regional parties. 

 

The reason why the saffron brigade is winning is because their opponents are disunited. By engaging in acts of tokenism, such as appointing a Dalit as President (no different from America having Obama as President), the Sangh Parivar is trying to win over the Dalits. However, these attempts have generally failed. The Dalits continue to be oppressed and every week one reads stories of lynchings and attacks. The saffronists’ aim is to have an India in which the old racist Aryan hierarchy of 3,500 years ago is reinstated. They want to destroy the provisions of the Constitution which guarantee the rights of Muslims and Dalits, such as the Constitution’s secular nature, the protections for Kashmir (such as Article 370 and 35A), and the provisions protecting Scheduled Castes and Tribes. 

 

In this project of re-establishing a racist system, the Sangh Parivar is aided and abetted by the two countries of the West which are determined to re-establish a neo-imperialist order – the US and UK. The elites of these two countries, having finally abandoned their hypocritical allegiance to ‘liberalism’ and ‘democracy’, have now exposed their true colours for the world to see. The BJP-RSS phenomenon is fundamentally a diaspora phenomenon – their rise has been fuelled by support and funding from diasporas in the US and UK, especially the large Gujarati and Marathi diaspora, which is both commercially successful and politically conscious. The experiment which these diasporas executed in Gujarat in 2000, with the assistance and encouragement of British and American elites, is now being replicated throughout India. Without the diaspora support and official encouragement from the US and UK, the post-2014 landscape in India would have been radically different. 

 

Why do the imperialist elites favour the Sangh Parivar? The reason is simple – they need an India which is at war with China. They see China’s economic rise as the greatest challenge to the Anglo-American hegemony over the world. However, China is no Iraq or Libya and they cannot directly challenge China. That is why they wish to use India for that purpose. They also see a BJP-ruled India as being friendly to Western business interests and opening up Indian markets for exploitation. We are already seeing this in Modi’s willingness to bend over backwards to accommodate US and UK interests. Indian Muslims and Dalits must be alive to this phenomenon and how it encourages the spread of saffron ideology. 

 

It is high time for Muslim and Dalits to engage in political cooperation. Such cooperation can range from tactical voting in elections to deny victory to saffron candidates to forming joint electoral alliances. It can include political activity as well as civil society activities. It is the duty of Muslims to speak up for the Dalit community and to fight against the continued oppression of this community. Kashmir’s leaders should also reach out to Dalit leaders (including Dalit communities within our state). A joint front of Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians – constituting 35% of India’s population – is more than capable of defeating the march of the saffron brigade.  

 

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