Why is the State afraid of Rona Wilson?

March 13, 2019

Received from U. Punyark

Bhima-Koregaon witnessed the progressive manifestation of the resistance against dominant Hindutva brahmanical cultural coercion on the vast masses of people in the country.

The celebration at Bhima Koregaon brings to ashes the Hindutva political conspiracy of unifying India on the basis of brahmanical theological practices. Bhima Koregaon is a spatial manifestation of the resistance which the oppressed has presented to the oppressing class and caste of people. It has been the site of the people`s resistance against brahmanical feudal forces.

At Bhima Koregaon “On January 1, 1818, a disciplined and organized army of 500 defeated the 28,000-strong army of the Peshwas/Brahmins. The 500 disciplined Mahars (now converted to Buddhism) and some other marginalized castes along with the British officer(s) defeated what can be considered the inhuman, draconian casteist rule of the Peshwas” (Dahiwale, 2018). To mark the victory over such oppressive rule every year thousands of Dalits throng at the place.

But they had to face severe attack by right wing Hindutva forces on the 200th year of the celebration at Bhima Koregaon. The intensifying brahmanical fascist nature of the Indian state explains the attack by the Hindutva forces upon Dalits who had assembled on 1st January 2018, all the oppressed identities were united under the name of ‘Elgar Parishad’ and vowed to fight the neo-peshwa modi-rule (Wagle, 2018). This sort of unity was indigestible hence it invited a state sponsored attack. 

The attack provided a pretext under which the people who had actively challenged the growing fascist nature of India state could be put behind bars. People who through their writings or deeds presented the revolutionary critique to the nature of Indian state and brought forth an alternative to the present social, political and economic order were put behind the bars.

Rona Wilson along with the four other activists were arrested in the attempt by the police to establish possible Maoist connection to the Koregaon violence (Staff, 2018). The arrest of Rona Wilson is an example of the historic attempt by the ruling class to silence voices that expose the anti-people nature of the state. In the war which the Indian ruling elite has been waging, people like Rona stood with the oppressed and dispossessed.

And this is what makes him vulnerable to state repression. Besides, he also has a Christian background and comes from Kollam in Kerala, a place about which the Hindutva forces and its media organ says is ‘Pakistan’ (Staff S. , 2017) (Ahmad, n.d.). He fits well into the matrix of ‘other’ in the ruling class narratives – this explains why he was constantly called ‘Rana’, Rona being a name which the brahmanical media is not used to hear or speak about. 

Everywhere he was ridiculed, almost every popular media space presented him as a villain who wanted to kill the most hard working PM of India. His political activism provided the soil on which the crop of Urban Naxal was to be cultivated. ABVP took hold of the opportunity and quickly organized a program on Urban Naxal in campus. Along with media every other organization of the Hindutva forces took the responsibility to spout venom on the Naxal movement, a movement which had brought a radical political challenge to the semi-feudal and semi-colonial conditions in India (Charu, 1971-72).

After Naxalbari in 1967, the state had to adjust itself in accordance with the rising challenge from the Naxalites. The word Naxal was reduce to an identity of terror and violence while the state`s routine structural violence was to be curbed under this word. And hence the ruling class made ‘Naxal’ and ‘Naxalite’ most abused words. At present the intensifying crisis of global capital order requires a severe attack on any sort of politics that dares to oppose the rising Hindutva forces in the slightest degree. Hence there was this need to widen the scope of the word Naxal, the addition of the word ‘Urban’ to it marks the shifting nature of the Indian state toward Fascism.    

Rona was the founding member of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners. This is an organization that has fought for the democratic rights of the oppressed. Based on the principle that every sort of political ideology should get a democratic space, it seeks freedom for the Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, people from the oppressed nationalities of J&K, Manipur etc… and persons who get prosecuted by the state simply because of his or her political ideology.

The Aim and Objective of CRPP includes bringing out a legislation for the implementation of UN Convention on Prisoners and “to arrange legal assistance to the prisoners who are in a disadvantageous position or discriminated against toward receiving a fair trial on account of media projections or the police, military or Government`s undue propaganda”. It is clear from the statement issued by CRPP in its inaugural conference at Mandi House in New Delhi that the committee doesn’t support or oppose the ideology of struggle based on violence or non-violence by any party or organization. 

Rona Wilson, as an active member of CRPP, was involved in organizing protest programs against the constant targeting of Muslims under various draconian laws like UAPA. He was one of the most active person involved in the campaign for the release of SAR Geelani who was illegally arrested in the case of parliament attack along with Afjal Guru. Likewise, he had campaign for those people who had been illegally detained by the police just because of their political activism or ideology. He has campaigned for the release of Prof GN Saibaba, Hem and others who had been arrested for speaking against operation Green Hunt carried out by the Indian state in the central India.

So Rona was working not in violation of any of the provisions in the constitution of this country, he was not at a single time advocating for a particular banned party or organization. His activism included speaking against the imperialist agenda to impose a development model that brings mass destitution to the people. In his speeches he has explained how the present state uses the old colonial draconian law to perpetuate state violence upon the vast masses of people. He has pointed out how, after the globalization and liberalization policies, more draconian laws came up, thereby exposing the manner in which the Indian state serves the cause of imperial capital and domestic big capital (Camera, n.d.).

He also spoke against the cultural hegemony of the brahmanical forces on vast masses of people in India. He supported beef eating and saw it as a democratic expression of larger section of people. He saw this as an act of the state to criminalize food habits (Camera, Rona Wilson: Support eating Beef in public sphere, 2012). The struggle for the repeal of all draconian laws and release of all political prisoners is in no way unconstitutional and arrest of anyone involved in this only shows the desperation of the Indian state to serve the imperialist powers and their capital. 

CRPP made a progressive change in the definition and scope of political prisoners. In the statement on Political Prisoners CRPP stated that “The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners believes that the persons who have been arrested or detained, for partaking in struggles of political, social and economic significance, in favour of exploited classes and oppressed castes/communities, in whatever form, and were guided not by selfish-interest, but by definite political views or ideologies, irrespective of the charges that the state have put on them, should be considered political prisoners.

However, members of the state sponsored armed groups would not be considered as political prisoners. Private armies of Bihar, Salwa Judum of Chhattisgarh, SULFA of Assam and a host of groups in J&K and other states or similar groups, operating under patronage of the state/ruling parties, be viewed as state sponsored armed groups. In addition, persons directly involved in genocide, rape and mass murder or so in connivance with the state should also not be considered as political prisoner.” Rona`s active membership in CRPP clearly points that he has been opposing the state repression on the oppressed masses of the people.

His arrest only points to the manner in which the ruling elite has been perpetuating their rule. The arrest of Rona has exposed the rotten roots of the Indian state. It has shown that there is no semblance of democracy in the working nature of Indian state.

The most violent form of politics involved in displacement of Adivasis and Dalits from their Jal, Jungle and Zameen, was exposed in an article titled ‘Manufacturing Imperialism: the political economy of SEZ’ written by Rona. He argues here that prime factor in the dreading combination of 4 Ds i.e. Displacement, Destruction, Destitution and Death is to be located in the matrix of productive relation and productive forces (Wilson, 2013).

He argued that the present model of development in India “is a replication of the status-quo where the money lender-trader-landlord nexus hold the political power, while sharing the benefits of surplus generated in the economy with imperialism.” And there upon he explains the rising income inequalities and political economic and social atrocities as the consequence of the development model. 

But he does not stop here, he talks of an alternative to the parasitic system. He talks of an alternative model which “would move towards a structural change in the economy with redistribution of land and a thoroughgoing shift in political power in favor of the toiling masses. This model envisages mass participation, with the needs of the masses forming the propellant factor giving a sense of direction to the industries resulting in the production of items that are useful for the everyday life of the people, for leading a dignified meaningful existence. This would necessitate the orientation or the choice of capital that is sensitive to the resource base of the economy and indigenous technology.  

And such a model of development where people are an asset and not a burden to the economy and their physical, mental well-being is what development is all about will be detrimental to the interests of the landlord-money lender-trader alliance which is holding power in the economy” (Wilson, 2013). Amidst the ocean of exploitations, people like Rona can imagine a truly democratic society. It is this imagination that threatens the existence of the present ruling class and the Indian state being the managing committee of the same uses all its apparatus to ensure that such an imagination get eradicated.  

Apart from this Rona is a student who was pursuing his PhD in JNU, Delhi. His Ph.D. thesis was on Islamophobia in India. He has a radical critique to the idea of Muslim other, which the present government is propagating in more violent measures than ever before. In his Ph.D. work Rona wanted to bring a radical analysis of the constant othering in form genocide, illegal detention, banning of Muslim organizations, ghettoization etc.

In his Ph.D. proposal which was accepted by many foreign universities, he wrote that Islamophobia has been used as an ideology to consolidate the politics of Hindutva by the ruling class in India, he wished to go beyond the discourse on Islamophobia in academia to describe the conditions of Muslims in India. This he thinks necessary because the discourse around Islamophobia emerged very recently but the Islamic history in India predates this understanding. 

He proposes to elaborate on how the state apparatus makes Muslim men as an object of socio-cultural national gaze wherein the subject always expect a terrorist in his body. Further he proposed to bring an understanding as to how the law creates a fiction of militant Muslim man, ‘terrorist Muslim masculinity’ that is further used by the ideological state apparatus like Media to create a common sense of Muslim ‘other’ in majority citizens while at the same time Muslim women is projected as docile body who needs to be protected by the Indian state.

We find relevance of this argument in the present Indian scenario, the state is creating a toxic Hindutva masculinity that finds its materiality in possessing Muslim female body. The issue over Triple Talaq culminates into a law that has provided a strength to the brahmanical masculinity vis-a-vis the Muslim women, the idea behind the law is to protect Muslim women from Muslim men and the onus of this would naturally be shouldered by the Hindutva forces. Rona in this way became a threat to the present brahmanical fascist regime and in order to carry out the project of Hindu Rastra it became quite urgent for the state to put him behind the jails. This explains the 5000 pages of charge sheet filed against him, the state is bent upon ensuring that he does not come out to propagate liberating ideology for the oppressed masses.  

References

Ahmad, T. (n.d.). kerala-becoming-mini-pakistan-brilliant-article-tufail-ahmad. Retrieved from vedicupasanapeeth.org: https://www.vedicupasanapeeth.org/kerala-becoming-mini-pakistan-brilliant-article-tufail-ahmad/

Camera, D. (2012, March 25). Rona Wilson: Support eating Beef in public sphere. Retrieved from youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpbqeLvrKmA

Camera, D. (n.d.). Rona Wilson about Committe for Releasing Political Prisoners. Retrieved from youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_rXmpwer_o

Charu. (1971-72). Long Live the Heroic Peasants. Retrieved from marxist.org: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mazumdar/1971/07/x01.html

Dahiwale, M. (2018, Jan 4). Battle of Bhima Koregaon symbolizes a war against caste oppression. Retrieved from atimes.com: http://www.atimes.com/battle-bhima-koregaon-symbolizes-war-caste-oppression/

Staff, S. (2017, June 3). times-now-calls-kerala-pakistan-gets-brutally-trolled-later-says-sorry. Retrieved from scoopwhoop.com: https://www.scoopwhoop.com/times-now-calls-kerala-pakistan-gets-brutally-trolled-later-says-sorry/#.rjfsyxglw

Staff, S. (2018, June 6). bhima-koregaon-violence-activist-rona-wilson-and-lawyer-surendra-gadling-among-five-arrested. Retrieved from scroll.in: https://scroll.in/latest/881576/bhima-koregaon-violence-activist-rona-wilson-and-lawyer-surendra-gadling-among-five-arrested

Wagle, N. (2018, Jan 6). The-Real-Culprits-of-Bhima-Koregaon-Violence. Retrieved from thecitizens.in: https://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/en/NewsDetail/index/4/12691/The-Real-Culprits-of-Bhima-Koregaon-Violence-

Wilson, R. (2013, Oct 27). Manufacturing Imperialism: The Political Economy of SEZ. Retrieved from toanewdawn.blogspot: http://toanewdawn.blogspot.com/2013/10/manufacturing-imperialism-political.html