//Defeat Modi for the sake of democracy: Social Forum

Defeat Modi for the sake of democracy: Social Forum

“Modi has failed on all fronts including bringing in investment to the State''

2002 riots a deliberate but silent “attack'' on the Muslims

Armed Forces Special Powers Act worse than POTA, TADA

NEW DELHI: The India Social Forum on Sunday called upon the people of Gujarat to vote against the Narendra Modi Government for the sake of democracy.

Describing Gujarat as a `farcist' State, speakers at a seminar on “Assault on Secular Democracy in Contemporary India,'' organised by Anhad and ActionAid said it was unfortunate that the middle class Hindu voted for the “killer'' and it was equally sad that “we had to live with this generation of voters.''

“No doubt Narendra Modi is losing ground in the State but he has not lost enough to lose [an] election and the only way to ensure this would be to remove him democratically,'' according to Harshvardhan Hegde, social rights activist from Gujarat.

He said Mr. Modi had failed on all fronts, including bringing in investment and converting the State into a `vibrant Gujarat.'

Holding the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh responsible for the communal divide in Gujarat, Dr. Hegde said the 2002 riots were well-planned and there had been a deliberate but silent “attack'' on the Muslims and their institutions.

Pointing out that everything had changed for Muslims in Gujarat after the riots, Zakia Jowher of the Aman Samudaya said the people of this community were now primary known by their religion and not as individuals.

“The definition of secularism and democracy here is different from the rest of the country,'' she added. How is it that the over 2,000 people killed in the riots are Muslims and the 220 people pronounced as “terrorists'' by the Government for their role in the riots, too, happen to be Muslims, she sought to know. Between 30,000 and 35,000 riot-affected people have not been able to return to their villages even by now and neither have they been given any compensation or rehabilitation, she alleged.

“There is no acknowledgement of these facts and it appears as though Gujarat is not a part of India,'' she said.

On the deteriorating situation in the North-Eastern States, particularly Manipur, Bimol Akoijam said the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was worse than the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act and the Terrorists And Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), both of which had been repealed due to misuses. “However, in the case of AFSPA, there is a recommendation to use four of its clauses to deal with communal riots anywhere in the country. This slow militarisation is dangerous,'' he said.

Referring to the killing of Thangjam Manorama Devi, Prof. Bimol said all judicial remedies in her case had been stalled by the Army under the pretext of national interest, only by using the AFSPA and even two years after her death, justice remains elusive.

Human rights activist from Kashmir Gauhar Fazili said democracy was an assault on Kashmir, going by the way it was being imposed on the people by the security forces and the intelligence agencies.

“There is no reference to the people in the whole process and there is no space for anything else but violence which the masses have now adopted to give vent to their feelings,'' he said.