Nothing new in Left intolerance
by B S Harishankar on 02 Feb 2020 15 Comments

On 28 December 2019, the inauguration of the 80 Indian History Congress at Kannur University, Kerala, witnessed unruly scenes with Left delegates staging a protest against the Kerala Governor Arif Muhammad Khan, while he was delivering the inaugural address. As per the programme, Marxist historian Irfan Habib was not among the speakers at the inaugural function. Defying this, Habib started speaking, making aggressive attacks on the Central Government’s policy towards Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).


Governor Khan patiently listened to the violent outbursts by Irfan Habib and then started his speech saying it is a stage to speak about history and not politics. He indirectly opposed the violent protests against CAA in the country and said the southern state has not experienced the miseries of partition.


The audience at the history congress session burst into protest against the Governor’s public support for the CAA. Arif Muhammad Khan spoke of how Hindus were being discriminated against in Pakistan: “I came to know about the harassment that (former) Pakistan cricketer Danish Kaneria faced because he is a Hindu”. As soon as the Governor said this, more than half the 1,500 delegates stood up waving paper placards which they had smuggled into the venue inside files, and shouted, “This is not Pakistan but India”. (At history meet, CAA backlash in Kannur University, The Telegraph Dec. 29, 2019).


Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar has gone viral on social media, saying that players refused to eat food with Danish Kaneria just because he was a Hindu. The 39-year-old Kaneria, who played 61 Tests for Pakistan, is the second Hindu to feature in the Pakistani cricket team after Anil Dalpat. Kaneria said he did not have the courage to speak, but after Akhtar’s statement, he will soon name players who had issues with him during his cricketing days. “The players who didn’t like to talk to me just because I was a Hindu” (Danish Kaneria mistreated by Pakistan cricketers as he’s Hindu, alleges Shoaib Akhtar, The New Indian Express, Dec. 26, 2019).


Governor Khan said if the delegates had the right to protest, he too had the right to speak and continued with his address. “Please don’t give too much importance to them. Please take your places,” he told those who stood up in protest. “You have no right to create violence or disturbance. You can’t silence me with protests. You can’t shout me down. You have come with an agenda,” Khan said, but by then he could barely be heard over the slogans (The Telegraph, Dec. 29, 2019).


Irfan Habib tried to disrupt the inaugural address on stage, questioning the Governor’s right to quote Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and shouting that he should quote Godse (Kerala Governor says historian Irfan Habib tried to ‘physically stop’ his speech, The Hindustan Times, Dec. 29, 2019).


Governor Khan clarified that he sent a renowned Malayali writer on his behalf to call those who were protesting for a discussion, but delegates said that they were here to protest and not to talk. So he said, “when you shut the doors of discussion then it creates an environment of violence and hate, followed by a sentence of Gandhiji. The moment I said this, Irfan Habibji got up from his seat and wanted to charge me. My ADC stopped him and then he (Habib) went behind the sofa and came from the other side. He was stopped by my security, ADC and others. Since he stood on the stage, some protesters created a ruckus there”. (Irfan Habib tried to charge me; was defending law which is my duty: Arif Mohammad, Business Standard, Dec. 29, 2019).


Irfan Habib said the delegates were provoked when the Governor started to speak about the CAA and denounced the Muslims (Indian History Congress did not invite Governor: Irfan Habib, The Hindu, Dec. 29, 2019). Later, Kannur University Vice Chancellor Gopinath Raveendran admitted there were protocol violations at the inauguration of the 80th Indian History Congress. Raveendran said that historian Irfan Habib’s speech was not listed in the programme (Protocol violations at Kerala Guv’s meet: Kannur VC, Outlook, Dec. 29, 2019).


Former ICHR Chairman MGS Narayanan said placards and other materials were prepared beforehand and the protests were planned much earlier. The Indian left lobbies and their radical outfits in our Universities have always turned down violent persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan who are coming to India as refugees. The United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in its recent report, ‘Pakistan-Religious freedom under attack’, has slammed Imran Khan government for discriminatory legislation that encourages people with “extremist mindsets” to carry out attacks on religious minorities.


The European Union Parliament has also released a report, ‘Religious Minorities in Pakistan’, which alleges a State role in institutionalized discrimination and prosecution of these groups. Recently, the Arria-Formula Meeting of the United Nations Security Council on ‘Advancing the Safety and Security of Persons Belonging to Religious Minorities in Armed Conflict’, came down heavily on Pakistan and China for persecution of religious and ethnic minorities. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) member, Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, stated in the National Assembly in May 2014 that around 5,000 Hindus migrate from Pakistan to India every year due to persecution.


The Indian Left targets Muslim nationalists who support India. When Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam led the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in May 1998 as chief scientific adviser to PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, director, Defence Research and Development Organisation and chief coordinator of the Pokhran II project, the Left attacked Pokhran.


Aijaz Ahmad said “as a full-scale reactionary agenda begins to unfold, it is becoming clear that the ‘consensus’ behind the BJP’s dangerous nuclear adventure is an attempted consensus behind Hindutva” (The Hindutva Weapon, Frontline Vol. 15 - No. 11, May 23 - Jun 05, 1998). N. Ram commented that not surprisingly, the Pokhran nuclear explosions worsened regional tensions and already troubled relations with Pakistan. Ram said for a Hindu Rashtra to succeed, it must be able to mobilize people around an aggressive anti-Muslim platform and create a permanent divide between Hindus and Muslims that can justify an authoritarian state (What Wrong did this Man do? Frontline, Volume 16 - Issue 10, May. 08 - 21, 1999). Following Kalam’s candidature for President, he was dubbed one of the ‘fathers’ of the Indian bomb.


Currently, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has clarified that the resolution passed by the Kerala State Assembly demanding scrapping of the CAA has absolutely no constitutional or legal validity. He added that the petition filed by the government in the Supreme Court demanding scrapping of the CAA is in violation of protocol.

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