Documentary on the ugly face of Hindutva


Film: Saffron War by Rajiv Yadav, Shahanawaz Alam and Lakshman Prashad, Duration: 61 Minutes, Contribution: Rs 95 (postage extra). Available from: 632/13, Shankarpuri, Kamta, Post: Chinhat, Lucknow, UP–Tel: 09415254919, 09452800752

With the rise of the Hindutva movement during the last three decades, there has also been an attempt to understand this phenomenon through analytical essays, articles and films. These films have also served the purpose of spreading the awareness about the rising threat of communal politics, and dangers to national integration due to the rising communal tide in the society. The Mumbai violence, Gujarat genocide, and Kandhmal killings amongst others has been the object of serious study and analysis amongst activists and scholars. Saffron War: a war against nation is the latest in a series of the significant works, which have come out lately. This film is a unique combination of analysis of Hindutva ideology, its cooption of Dalits in to communal politics and the gradual manipulation of the low caste movements and turning them away from their struggle for social justice to mobilization as foot soldiers of Hindutva where they are made to believe that the real problems of society are not due to the caste structure but the “external” one coming form Muslim and other minorities.

This film is made in the backdrop of Gorakhpur, where Yogi Adiyanath, a BJP MP, has been spreading his tentacles in a very aggressive way. The film’s major contribution is to show as to how Gorakhnath Math has gradually been shifted away from its struggle against caste oppression, how its focus on inter-community amity has been shifted away to hatred for the minorities. The film, through different interviews and visuals, shows us the spread of venom against minorities. The language used by the Yogi and his followers comes under the category of ‘Hate Speech’, which is going on in the open fashion. All the prejudices and biases against minorities, Muslims in particular, are being openly asserted in the public meetings where Muslims are not only presented in extremely negative light but also violence is openly propagated and promoted. The imaginary fear of minorities is projected and all the propagation of violence is done in the name of ‘defense of Hindu religion’. The degree of aggression in the language is shocking to say the least. In many a meeting when these hateful speeches are being made, even the Police is seen standing as passive listeners, unmindful of the fact that such hate speech should invite strong legal action.

The major mobilization for this campaign is done in the name of Yogi Adityanath and the majority of people who are mobilized and co-opted are Dalits and OBCs. They begin with Savarkar’s definition ofHindutva and the Hindu Rashtra is made the base of ‘hate other’ propaganda. This goes on to say that Muslims have to be relegated to second class citizenship in order to stop their alleged ‘appeasement’. They cite the example of Pakistan to spread this hate. Yogi’s propaganda further adds that Muslims’ voting rights have to be taken away. Gorakhpur and surrounding areas must be one of the few places where Savarkar is quoted so blatantly in the anti-minority tirade.  The emphasis on converting UP into Gujarat through Poorvanchal comes up regularly. On the lines of Bajrang Dal, there is formation of Arya Veer Sena and Hindu Yuva Vahini giving the training to youths in the use of arms, with Har Har Mahadev as their war cry.

The film brings out clearly as to how the earlier Bharat Milap procession in this area symbolized Hindu-Muslim brotherhood, but now it has been converted into an occasion where 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.

While the film does well to focus on the core points of Savarkar ideology and cooption and Sanskrtisation of Dalits, there is a need to link up this with the overall Hindutva politics of the country. The link between Savarkar and RSS ideology also should have been highlighted. The strong point of the film is to show the political dynamics of the conversion of a low caste, syncretic space into one dominated by Braminical ideology and Hindutva politics. The film does show, in a forthright manner, the way in which Hindutva politics builds up. The history of Gorakhnath Math comes out very well along with the fact the communalization process has converted this syncretic space into exclusive Hindutva territory. It is Gorakhnath Math where earlier Muslims used to throng in large numbers and were welcome there. The scenario is dismal, there is need to develop political, ideological and cultural campaigns against this politics of hate to bring back the issues of caste and gender into the mainstream of social movements. The need to work for national integration needs to be highlighted in more ways than one.

While the film is a comprehensive study of communalism in Poorvanchal, Gorakhpur in particular, it should have connected a bit more with the national phenomenon of Hindutva. The film does need some technical improvisation and better photography.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2011 on page no. 3

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