On 4 October 2016, the concluding day of the 14th national conference of IPTA in Indore, 10-12 goons from a little known organization called Bharat Swabhiman Manch attacked the event, pelting stones and injuring an activist. The RSS Malwa propaganda chief (prior to the attack) and RSS Indore propaganda chief (after the attack) issued statements in which they claimed that “anti-national speeches” were made at the event. It is not difficult to guess the affiliations of this hitherto unheard-of organization which seemed to have sprung up overnight.
This incident is the latest in a series of attacks on artists, writers, and intellectuals by Sangh-affiliated forces, especially in the wake of the Uri attack and the ‘surgical strike.’ Recently the ABVP had protested to disrupt the staging of well-known writer Mahashweta Devi’s “Draupadi” at the Haryana Central University. This story about an adivasi woman confronting the leader of security forces who has ordered her to be gang-raped and killed in an encounter, was branded as ‘anti-army’ and ‘anti-national.’ Under pressure from these disruptive elements, the University has thrown ‘autonomy’ to the winds and instituted an enquiry against two teachers who facilitated the staging of the play. Under the Modi government at the Centre and the BJP-ruled State governments, the morale of hate-mongers who attack freedom of speech has reached a new high.
After the attack on the IPTA Conference, a local newspaper published an article under the by-line of BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya which attacked an anti-war speech by well-known film-maker MS Sathyu (director of the iconic film on the Partition of India, Garam Hawa) at the IPTA event. In this article Vijayvargiya has questioned MS Sathyu’s right to remain an Indian citizen.
MS Sathyu had said, “War is not the solution to any problem. We are not against just an India-Pakistan war but against all wars.” So according to saffron forces, it is anti-national to make anti-war statements in times of surgical strikes! They also said that plays against the army were being staged at the conference; in other words, support for the oppressive and inhuman side of the army has also become a must for proving patriotism. Vijayvargiya wrote “(JNUSU President) Kanhaiya is also a leftist who was raising anti-national slogans in JNU. The anti-national traitor Afzal Guru was the inspiration for Rohith Vemula of Hyderabad. All these are the festering sores of anti-nationalism. These people, clad in the garb of the Left, are more dangerous than Pakistani Kasab. Chanakya has said that the enemy within is far more dangerous than the enemy without.”
On 14 October the venue permission for the ‘Cinema of Resistance’ film festival at Udaipur, Rajasthan, was cancelled after being initially granted, under pressure from the RSS and the ABVP. This film festival has always been centred on a particular social issue. This time it was centred on the question of justice in the cases of dalit students Delta Meghwal (who was raped and murdered in Rajasthan) and Rohith Vemula (who was a victim of institutional murder). The festival was to screen “Kairana Surkhiyon ke Baad”, a film by Nakul Sawhney exposing the conspiracy to spread communal hatred and violence in Kairana. This is the reason the organizations responsible for spreading communal and casteist poison tried to cancel the film festival, and the Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Agriculture University cancelled the venue permission which had been given just 16 hours ago.