Tehelka, 12 May 2011Saffron War By Rajiv Yadav, Shahnawaz Alam and L Prashad
61 min | Rs. 95
With the rise of the Hindutva movement over the past three decades, there has also been an attempt to understand this phenomenon through essays, articles and films. These films have also served the purpose of spreading awareness about the rising threat of communal politics, and dangers to national integration due to the rising communal tide. The Mumbai violence, Gujarat genocide and Kandhamal riots amongst others have been objects of serious study and analysis. Saffron War: A war against nation is the latest in a series of significant works. This film is a combination of analysis of Hindutva ideology and its cooption of Dalits into communal politics where they are made to believe that the real problems of society are coming not from the caste structure but from the Muslims.
This film is made in the backdrop of Gorakhpur, where Yogi Adityanath, a BJP MP, has been spreading his tentacles aggressively. The film’s major contribution is to show how Gorakhnath Math has been gradually shifted away from its struggle against caste oppression to hatred for the minorities. Through interviews and visuals, the film shows the spread of venom against minorities. The language used by the Yogi and his followers comes under the category of ‘hate speech’. The prejudice and bias against minorities, Muslims in particular, is openly asserted in public meetings where Muslims are presented in negative light and violence is openly propagated and promoted. An imaginary fear of minorities is projected and the propagation of violence is done in the garb of defending the Hindu religion. The degree of aggression in language is shocking. In many meetings when hate speeches are made, the police stands as passive listeners, unmindful that such hate speech should invite strong legal action.
Major mobilisation is done in the name of Adityanath and the majority of people who are mobilised are Dalits and OBCs. They begin with Savarkar’s definition of Hindutva and make the concept of a Hindu Rashtra as the basis for other hate propaganda. Adityanath’s propaganda says the voting rights of Muslims should be taken away. Gorakhpur and surrounding areas must be one of the few places where Savarkar is quoted so blatantly. The emphasis on making Uttar Pradesh like Gujarat comes up regularly. On the lines of Bajrang Dal, there is the Arya Veer Sena and the Hindu Yuva Vahini training the youth in the use of arms, with Har Har Mahadev as the war cry.
The film brings out clearly how the earlier Bharat Milap processions in the area symbolised Hindu-Muslim brotherhood, but now anti-Muslim sentiments are invoked. This has seriously intimidated the minorities in the area. The role of these forces in the Mau riots of 2005 is well brought out in this film. But it should have connected more with the national phenomenon. The film does need technical improvisation.