Press Release :
On a cold and chilly Sunday night the United Against Hate held a street meeting in 40 Duta Road in Shaheen bagh Okhla on 23rd December.
Apart from central hall meetings, fact findings, reporting, sending of immediate response teams, legal support to survivors of hate crimes, and protest demonstrations, one of United Against Hate’s constant emphasis has been organizing mohulla-level meetings spreading political consciousness around notions of justice, equality, secularism and constitutional values. The meeting in Shaheen bagh was in continuation of the same objective titled “Abki baar Nafrat ki Haar”. Amongst others, the meeting was addressed by Swami Agnivesh, Ovais Sultan Khan, Arfa Khanum Sherwani, Professor Ratanlan, Anupam, Prashant Kanojiya and Umar Khalid.
Swami Agnivesh reiterating the significance of mohulla-level meetings said that “Most of our meetings in general happens in central Delhi in AC rooms. But i congratulate the organizers for bringing us here. Because the real country lives in mohullas, gallis and nukkads.” Arfa Khanoom Sherwani also said that “Till the time we don’t take our constitutional values to gallis, nukkads, and mohullas this country will not be able to emerge out of darkness. I am happy that UAH has brought us here.”
But as Umar Khalid and Shariq Ansar pointed out while concluding the meeting that while those saffron goons who speak of hate, speak of breaking the Jama Masjid are given permission and complete impunity; the police administration tried its best to sabatage our program by denying permission. This is despite the fact that our program was in fact against the climate of hatred and speaking of constitutional values and secularism. Such is the state of affairs under the Modi raj. But despite all such efforts, we successfully held the street meeting among hundreds of people renewing our pledge to defeat the forces of hate. Quiting Lohia, Prof. Ratanlan said that “The day silence takes over the streets, the Parliament will become ‘awara’ (vagabond)”. It is the resolve of United Against Hate to continue to hit the streets against BJP and RSS’s politics of hate-mongering, lies and fear.
Prof. Ratanlal further added that “It is the responsibility of each and every citizen to raise questions against the rulers in a democracy. The casteist communal elements, the Hindutva forces prepared well through several decades to reach here. We didn’t prepare well enough to save the day. But today, we must voice our just demands strongly. The Constitution drafted by Ambedkar gives us the right to raise our voices and do so fearlessly.” He said that the rulers have been fooling us. For them, he said “we are Hindus the day before the elections, and the day after we are Dalits. We must question the rulers. We must expose them. We must question the society, and also each one of ourselves and particularly those who rule.”
Ovais Sultan Khan warned us against the false binaries of ‘good Muslim’ and ‘bad Muslim’ that is being peddled by various means. He emphasized the need to steer clear of such binaries and foreground everyone’s right to equal citizenship in this country as per the Constitution and unitedly fight against the forces of hate.
Swami Agnivesh said that “I don’t believe in caste, I don’t believe in hierarchies, between man and woman between Hindus or Muslims. Some say ‘garv se kaho hum Hindu hai’. I say ‘fakr se kaho hum Insaan hai’. Because insaaniyat is the biggest religion.
Arfa Khanum Sherwani in her speech emphasized the need for Muslims, dalits and Adivasis to form alliances. “Muslims must speak up when Dalits, farmers or Adivasis are under attack. We must forge unities,” she added.
Anupam from Swaraj Abhiyan warned “Don’t think even if Modi loses somehow, our task is over. Because our fight is not just against one person. Our fight is against an idea of hatred. Till we can defeat that ideology of hate, our task will remain unfinished.” He further added that “Our society has been damaged irreparably, our ganga-jammu tahzeeb has been viciously tampered with. Even our institutions are being tampered with today. We must fight to defeat all these attempts.”
Poojan Sahil’s political songs and Mumtaz Ali Rizvi’s poetry only added to the spirit of the audience. Their verses blended with the speeches of the evening and exalted the need to uphold truth, justice, equality and fraternity against the divisive and diversionary politics of the Hindutva forces.
Umar Khalid concluded the meeting with a pledge wherein the entire audience resolved in the words of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to be equal stakeholders in the building of this country and lay claims to it.
We thank the audience for their spirited participation in large numbers through the length of the meeting in a cold winter night. Their warmth, their resolve and their support gives us enormous confidence to carry on with our campaign for justice. And finally, from United Against Hate we condemn the brutal killing of Sanjali, a 15 year old Dalit girl in Agra who was burnt alive. We condemn the absolute lawlessness under Yogi-raj where Dalits and Muslims are being targeted and brutalised with impunity. We stand with unflinching solidarity with Sanjali’s family in their struggle for justice.