Red is a Darker version of Saffron

 

Abdullah Rahman, Rahul Meenakshi & Sanjana Krishnan

'Kiss of Love' and the Islamophobic Undercurrent of the Movement

abdullah rahul sanjanaThe famous case of Downtown restaurant in Calicut that was vandalised by Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM) on 24th October, 2014 for allegedly promoting immoral activities is now a nationwide furore. The goons of the BJP's youth wing reacted to the news report of a Congress owned TV channel JaiHind TV citing footages of couples engaging in public display of affection, with no substantial evidence against the Café.

Three points of arguments can be raised here: one is the fascist agenda of attacking a popular café owned by a 25-year-old Muslim youth under the guise of "immoral activities" is a case of Islamophobia. Two, the regressive youth wing of BJP backed by the central government in association with the Congress funded news channel have slaughtered the reputation of the restaurant for vested interests in the name of moral policing. One is not trying to downplay the significance of rampant moral policing in India, but attempting to draw attention to the larger case, which very slyly has been rendered unimportant, rather invisible. Three, even if we delve into the issue of moral policing the blurred images of couples (in the media footage) seemed to be of two consenting adults. What gives any individual or group the right to attack people's "character" and their right to consensually engage with one another?

Drawing from the series of events in Calicut, protests were scheduled to be organised in Cochin on 2nd November, 2014, which also inspired, a "bunch of progressive Malayalis" in University of Hyderabad (UoH), mostly from Students Federation of India (SFI). We emphasise Malayalis primarily because it was an initiative by some Malayalis on the campus, and the Facebook page which was created to invite students for the protest used English and Malayalam for discussion and the propagation of the message. No other language was used to invite a multi-lingual student community. The campaign was predictably titled 'UoH in Solidarity' which was later changed to 'UoH against Moral Policing'.

downtown

 Downtown restaurant in Calicut

The "progressive communists" chose to conveniently ignore the contours of the events leading to the Downtown incident and cashed in on the event for gaining political mileage. The fashionable Kiss protest in UoH was a crowd puller and this stunt was a success in terms of gaining nationwide publicity. Ironically none of these "modern communists" gathered for the protests held against mass killing of Dalits in Maharashtra just the previous day by another student group on the campus and also failed to extend support and stand against the bogey of "Love Jihad". On the contrary, members of every student wing on the campus were present for the "Kiss of Love" (KoL) drama, in solidarity, despite difference of opinion, barring ABVP which is famous for its notoriety at all times as self-proclaimed protectors of Indian culture.

The misrepresentation of the "KoL" protest and the ABVP's counter protest with "external elements" inside the university degraded, not only the whole essence of the protest, but also showed their vested political interest in the name of solidarity and culture. One of the organisers, while speaking for solidarity with the protest, articulates that, "we are protesting not for kiss, but against moral policing... you don't need a partner to kiss, you can kiss anyone, if that person is allowing you. So we are focusing on consent issue. If you are having consent, then definitely you can."*

The leftist agenda behind creating this drama is nothing short of a highly Islamophobic discourse. One of the other organisers on being asked about opposition to the protest alleged, "We got mockery from the Student Islamic Organisation (SIO), Jamat and Popular front of India (PFI), who made "fun" of us directly. We never got any threat from ABVP, although we knew that underground activities were on." These claims are blatant lies, and disregard the fact that there is no PFI on UoH campus, and cadres of ABVP and BJYM did disrupt the event and were violent with the participating students. Ironically, the SIO participated in the event as can be proved from images and footages available from the media in spite of their ideological differences.

kol uoh 1

These two testimonies were articulated differently countering two distinct political ideologies. They created enormous confusions not only in their own internal space, but also, amongst outsiders. The first testimony shows discontent against the traditionalists, while citing examples from the same tradition. The other testimony selectively targets Muslims without any substantial evidence, illustrating the Islamophobic nature of the protest in the university space. Since in UoH, the Islamic groups neither engaged in acts of moral policing nor did they hold any counter protest; the nature of their contestation was against the selective nature of the "KoL" protest. This also proves and draws us back to the agenda set by the left and right to hegemonise the actual event and hijack the issue under the façade of moral policing.

Apart from the misleading arguments which have been making the rounds, another facet of this protest is the homogenisation of the event. UoH is a multicultural space housing individuals and groups from across the globe. A group of one hundred fifty students claiming their voice to be that of 6000-odd students of the University is an exaggerated self-proclamation and an unwarranted representation of the student community. The organisers also failed to take any criticism on the event from different quarters; rather they indulged in vilifying individuals and groups. Thus, through the rhetoric of moral policing, victim herself/himself has been accused of indulging in moral policing.

The "KoL" protest which is considered to be against the act of moral policing, needs to be de-codified in terms of its origin and ideology. In a Hindu majoritarian society it is the predominant thought that prevails and conceptualises culture. This dominant thought has been contested from time to time by the dominated. It is the dominant who always create a safety wall in order to save or maintain cultural norms through different modes of operation to keep away "deviations". In this context the act of general policing is not general in its nature, it rather originates from the Brahminic thought processes and is deeply rooted in Brahminic ideology. People at large are the victims of this dominant ideology.

In India, targeting Muslim businesses has been a feature of majoritarian violence against the minority community. However, in the case of Downtown Café, the establishment was targeted under the garb of moral policing, thus successfully hiding the majoritarian element of the attack. "Kiss of Love" in this sense has failed to address the issue in a holistic manner, and has fallen into the trap of Hindutva by confining its protest to moral policing, and not elucidating the majoritarian politics of targeted attack of Muslim establishment(s). If it was a case of moral policing, how come cases of aggression haven't been reported against any couple, but only against the establishment?

kol uoh 2

The supposedly progressive student organisations, not excluding the Indian left, have not only failed to address majoritarian aggression against the Muslim community, but have also created a discourse of Islamophobia through their protest.

*Note: media footage for "kiss of love" protest at University of Hyderabad can be found at provided link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpgMtjd4fC0

~~~
 
 

 Abdullah, Rahul and Sanjana are currently students of Sociology and Political Science at the University of Hyderabad.

Pictures courtesy: the internet and the writers.

Other Related Articles

Dalit Bahujan Missionary Efforts in North Karnataka
Friday, 19 May 2017
  Rohan Arthur And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. - Matthew 19:24 Religion is for man and... Read More...
Bahubali: Celebrating the grandchildren of Nehru and Savarkar
Monday, 15 May 2017
  Kuffir ~ Social and individual efficiency requires us to develop the capacity of an individual to the point of competency to choose and to make his own career. This principle is violated in... Read More...
The Rise of the Bheem Army
Saturday, 13 May 2017
  Vinay Shende Exclusive details on the recent caste incidents in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, and the role of the Bheem Army. This report is based on a member speaking to Round Table India on the... Read More...
बुद्ध पूर्णिमा पर बुद्ध के दुश्मनों को पहचानिए
Tuesday, 09 May 2017
  संजय जोठे (Sanjay Jothe) बुद्ध पूर्णिमा के अवसर पर बुद्ध के सबसे पुराने और सबसे... Read More...
Romancing the Caste Violence
Tuesday, 09 May 2017
  Dr. N. Sukumar Mr. Venkaiah Naidu in the Indian Express dated 1st May 2017 (Romancing the Maoists) took umbrage at the human rights activists maintaining silence over the killing of security... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Fight against the Misogyny & Casteism of 'Best Indian Memes for Creamy Teens', FB page
Friday, 06 January 2017
  Vinay Shende "My final words of advice to you are Educate, Agitate and Organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a... Read More...
Gangrape and Murder of a 16 year old Dalit girl in Sendurai, Tamil Nadu
Saturday, 21 January 2017
  (A condensed translation, by Trevor Jeyaraj, of Mr. Venpura Saravanan's Facebook post in Tamil ) N (16), daughter of Rajendran R of Sendurai taluk in Ariyalur district, Tamil Nadu, who... Read More...
Revoke the Arbitrary Suspension of JNU Students Fighting for Social Justice
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
  BAPSA BAPSA's President, Bhupali Vitthal Magare and two other BAPSA activists, Rahul Sonpimple and Praveen Thallapelli have been academically suspended and debarred from hostels by the JNU... Read More...
The curious case of Indian psychoanalysis
Saturday, 11 February 2017
 Umar Nizar  Marxism has been critiqued variously for its occasional elitism and casteism. But the Freudian establishment in India, a flourishing one at that, has escaped criticism. Ashis... Read More...
The Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey
Wednesday, 01 February 2017
  Somnath Waghamare I am Somnath Waghamare, a Graduate in Sociology and Post Graduate in Media studies from Sangli, Maharashtra, India. The past few years I have been working... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more