The ACRPR Project Report titled ‘Conflicted Democracies and Gendered Violence: The Right to Heal’ claims that its primary aim is to study ‘gender and sexual violence in conflict’: that it wants to fight for the ‘privileged and the disadvantaged’, and the ‘marginalized’.
By conflict, it means communal riots and secessionist movements in India. The four cases under focus in the Project Report are: the Gujarat riots of 2002, anti-Sikh riots of 1984, the Kashmir Separatist Movement and the Odisha violence on 2007-08.
The report comprises three sections.
Section I presents the theory of the Project and the ideology of its members. It is full of undecipherable jargon common among the writings of political scientists of post-modernist orientation.
One of the contributing authors, Homi K Bhabha is famous for writing absolute nonsense in philosophical-sounding verbiage. He has even been awarded the second prize in “Bad Writing Competition” by Philosophy and Literature Journal in 1998. The Award “celebrates bad writing from the most stylistically lamentable passages found in scholarly books and articles.” Bhabha was awarded the prize for this sentence in his most famous book The Location of Culture:
“If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities, and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to “normalize” formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.”
Almost the entire theoretical section of the ACRPR Report reads like this. The authors quote directly from Foucault, Derrida, Lacan and other post-modernist authors, affecting a pseudo-philosophical disposition, while their goal is extremely political and partisan: to implicate Narendra Modi, the BJP government and the Hindu society in every crime imaginable.
The “Report” is nothing more than a venomous diatribe against the Hindu community in general and against Narendra Modi and the BJP in particular. However, the authors of the Report have tried to make their vicious anti-Hindu invectives sound like outcome of scientific analysis of social theory. For this they go to great lengths.
The ‘philosophers’ that they call to their aid are infamous for being opaque in language and meaningless in content.
The Report (the page number of the quotation from the report of ACRPR Project, titled “Conflicted Democracies and Gendered Violence: The Right to heal” will be quoted in brackets) starts explaining its theory by quoting a meaningless line by Jacques Derrida, the father of most post-modernist jibber-jabber that goes around in ‘academic’ circles these days. Derrida is quoted to the effect:
“…all nation-states are born and found themselves in violence… The foundational violence is not only forgotten. The foundation is made in order to hide it; by its essence it tends to organize amnesia, sometimes under the celebration and sublimation of the grand beginnings.” (p. 19-20)
Notice the categorical condemnation of the formation of all nation-states in the very first sentence and then absolutely no effort to substantiate the claim in the subsequent lines. This ridiculous claim is left completely unsubstantiated and the reader is supposed to believe in the veracity of the statement by the power vested in Derrida by… well… Derrida himself.
And this is the basis of much that follows in the Report, this assertion by Derrida that “all nation-states are found in violence”. His statement is taken as axiomatic truth; this ‘truth’ is considered as theory; and the theory is accepted as fact.
And India is judged on this basis.
That the Indian State is always violent; that it is always evil and anyone fighting it is always the oppressed. There can be no exceptions to this grand theoretical truth.
Once this ‘truth’ is ‘proved,’ the authors go on to further ‘prove’ that the majority community is always evil and oppressive and the minority community is always the oppressed one.
“Conflicted democracies in the Global South content with hyper-nationalism as the national majority community consolidates and unifies itself into the governing elite, solidifying a majority-minority binary.” (p. 21)
While using pseudo-scientific, pseudo-philosophical terms such as ‘hyper-nationalism’ and ‘majority-minority binary’, the basic assertion of the authors is that the Hindus, with their violent nationalism, are responsible for all violence in Indian society.
It is further claimed that the majority community always engages in violence for grabbing the ‘national resources’:
“Such societies orchestrate and submit to cycles of state and group violence toward nationalizing resources and assimilating and homogenizing dissenting peoples and social difference.” (p. 21)
India is called a ‘majoritarian democracy’ which is defined as the system in which the religious majority brutalizes and terrorizes the minorities. It is juxtaposed to a ‘consensus democracy’ but interestingly no country is cited as an example.
The ‘always’ rule
The authors have used many semantic tricks to make their ideology appear like the truth. There is the ‘always’ rule. The majority is ‘always violent’; the minority is ‘always the victim’. Religion is ‘always peaceful’; the majority ‘always makes it violent’. Nationalism is ‘always violent’, the nationalistic violence is ‘always sexual, related to gender’.
The conclusion of this ‘always premise’ is that the Hindus are ‘always evil’ while the Muslims are ‘always innocent’. No exceptions are entertained to this absolute rule of an absolute ideology. No verification is ever considered necessary to test it.
Denunciation by Association
India is equated to the colonial-settler communities of Australia, Canada and the U.S. subtly suggesting that just like the majority communities of these countries are foreign settlers who destroyed and killed most of the natives, the Hindus in India are too invaders from outside who subjugated the minorities in India.
The indigenous people are called Adivasis, (aboriginals) who are not considered Hindus. The Hindus are seen as foreign Aryan invaders. In this scenario, the Hindus seem similar to the Christian Conquistadors from Spain and Portugal who invaded the Americas and decimated their culture, society, religion and civilization.
On the other hand, the Muslims are always clubbed along with the Adivasis, and the Dalits. The phrase always runs like this: “Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Dalit, Adivasi”. The real atrocities committed upon Dalits in some cases are taken to be the norm rather than the exception and by clubbing Muslims with Dalits, Muslims are also presented as victims.
India as a dictatorship
The report explains that India was chosen as a case study because, although India is theoretically a democracy, it is just a ‘political democracy’ and a ‘conflicted political democracy’ on that. One wonders, what an ‘apolitical democracy’ is.
In reality, which democracy does not have problems or conflicts? The United States still battles racism, ethnic conflicts, gender violence, juvenile delinquency and a host of other problems. Native Americans still struggle for their rights against the government.
Scotland, a state of the United Kingdom held a plebiscite in 2015, whether it wanted to remain in the U.K. By a very narrow margin the Scots voted to remain with the United Kingdom. The pro-independence nationalists are not happy and the coming years will further strain relations between Scotland and London. The question of Northern Island is still a thorn in the side. Wales is not far behind in demanding greater autonomy and even freedom.
France battles with the problem of ‘assimilating Asian and African migrants’. The Islamic minority has grown to as large as 10% of. It is unassimilated and regularly engages in riots and communal conflagrations across the country.
Germany also has similar sets of problems. On the one hand, the flooding of ‘refugees’ has caused great social and political problems. On the other hand, in reaction to the refugee influx, neo-Nazis are becoming stronger again.
Sweden has one of the highest rates of per capita rape in the world. Benelux battles with the growing problem of Islamic terrorism. Spain is on the verge of falling apart in its constituent states.
And these are some of the most stable democracies in the world. By using the phrase ‘political democracy’, the subtle implication is that India is democracy just in name. Veena Das puts this in very clear words in the Foreword of the report:
“But the question is this – can we make a clear separation between democratic states and authoritarian states when the torture apparatus developed in the latter is used by democratic states to evade their own laws in keeping a global regime of torture, incarceration and sexual violence fully functional? And within democratic states themselves there are zones defined as “dangerous”, because of militant movements or insurgencies, that prove the excuse for suspending the law or enacting extraordinary measures through which extrajudicial killing, police violence, and arming of militias to keep the order, becomes part of the normal?” (p. xvi)
First, for token’s sake, authoritarian regimes are lamented upon. Then quickly, democracies are equated to totalitarian dictatorships by asserting that ‘State torture’ takes place in democracies too.
Then, in a swift stroke, India is condemned in the same vein as a dreaded dictatorship would be. And all this, without a shred of proof.
The word ‘conflicted’ is meant to give the impression that India is a disturbed land where the social fabric is so disturbed that it needs help in the form of external, foreign intervention.
Racial Profiling of Hindus
The authors of the Report have a pathological hatred of Hinduism, Hindu culture and Hindu society. Hindus are blamed for every crime under the sky. No explanation is given for this alleged monstrous behavior.
The only reason that can be inferred is that the authors believe that the Hindus constitute a race and that there is something wrong with their blood. There is no other reason why an entire demographic group would be blamed for so many crimes. This Hinduphobia is reflected in the racial profiling of the Hindus that the authors have done throughout the Report.
Hinduism for them is no valid religious category. The British viewed Hinduism as a modern invention of the nationalist freedom fighters. Islam and Christianity are of course not put under this scrutiny. This colonial view of Hinduism is repeated by the authors of the report in the following words:
“The religionization of the state in India draws its history from the imperial and feudal-nationalist assimilation of diverse traditions into a monolithic Hinduism. The Orientalist positioning of Hinduism as a world religion, began by the British in the 1830s, was amalgamated by the Bramho Samaj, the Arya Samaj, and thereafter by the RSS, and others.” (p. 77)
Using some classic anti-Hindu tricks, the Report mentions the ‘Hinduization’ and ‘Sanskritization’ of Adivasi and Dalit populations in Odisha, implying that they are not Hindus and Hindu fundamentalist organizations forcibly convert them to Hinduism. On the other hand, the very real threat of Christianization of Hindu tribals is dismissed as majoritarian scaremongering.
The authors castigate all Hindu men as monsters by this statement that: “…the female experience in India as commonly consisting of a ‘continuum of violence… from the ‘womb to the tomb’”. (p. 88-89)
Reconversions to Hinduism are always ‘forced’, however conversions to Christianity are not only voluntary, they are also redemptive and transformative. (p. 138)
Hindus are portrayed as absolute monsters, waving evil tridents and impaling Muslim women on them. (p. 154)
Every lapse in legal judgment is claimed as a conspiracy against the minority, ignoring the fact that the judicial process in India is lethargic in general. (p. 219)
By equating the minority as ‘victims’, the majority as ‘perpetrators’ and riots to the act of rape, the authors of the Report build a narrative in which it is always Hindu men who rape Muslim women and the vice versa never happens.
The authors lament that there are 38 listed terrorist groups in India and none of them are Hindu. It does not matter to them whether any Hindu organization is really involved in terrorism or no. The government should declare Hindu organizations as terrorist just because the ideology of these authors tells them that it is always the majority which is evil and violent. This is the level of ‘scholarship’ involved in the ACRPR Project.
Gujarat, Kashmir and Odisha
The narrative about India, Kashmir, Odisha and Gujarat is familiar. Godhra is presented as a suspicious incident, implying that the Hindus immolated themselves. On the other hand, Gujarat riots are not only called as pre-planned but the Narendra Modi government, the BJP and entire Hindu community is said to be a part of the conspiracy where every Hindu conspired for the “genocide” of Muslims.
There are familiar and extremely graphic tales of how Muslims were massacred by brutal Hindus; how Indian Army is nothing more than rape machine which terrorizes and massacres the Muslims; how in Odisha Hindus run riot among Christians whenever the fancy strikes and butcher the hapless Christians without care; how the Indian State has or had draconian laws like TADA, POTA or USPA and how they should be repealed.
The Babri Masjid demolition is mentioned repeatedly as an attack upon democracy: however, no mention of any Hindu temple being destroyed is ever made. Even the Mumbai bomb blasts by Islamic terrorists are blamed on the Hindus. There is nothing new in these baseless allegations.
It is the language that the authors use that is of interest.
In the Godhra case, a Muslim mob ‘allegedly’ set fire to the bogey of the train carrying Hindu pilgrims. But then the authors hurry to suggest that later investigations ‘pointed out’ that the fire was set from inside the bogey. (p. 129)
The authors are indicating that the evil and devious Hindus are so scheming in their designs that around sixty of them, including women and children willfully immolated themselves so that Gujarat riots could be ‘staged’ later.
Despite the repeated exoneration of Narendra Modi by the Supreme Court and other courts, the authors leave no doubt that they consider him a monster. During the Gujarat riots of 2002, in the Gulberg case, a former Congress
Member of Parliament, Ehsan Jafri called Narendra Modi for help as the riots were ongoing. The authors quote Narendra Modi as saying: “You have not died yet?” (p. 134)
There is absolutely no record of Mr. Modi saying anything to the effect. The only source of this scandalous allegation is the unnamed, unreferenced, unverifiable investigation conducted by the Project authors themselves.
As discussed earlier, the truth is of no consequence to them. The parameters of truth, as they said, should be realigned. And the realignment is always in the anti-Hindu direction.
The Project does not differentiate between freedom fighters and terrorists. Veena Das states in the Foreword: “Chatterji and her colleagues do not yield to any nostalgic rendering of violence perpetrated by militants, insurgents, freedom fighters, terrorists – all names that can morph into each other.” (p. xvi)
The Islamic terrorists are legitimized and glorified by equating them with freedom fighters. They are called ‘combatants’. On the other hand, all Hindu organizations are depicted as terrorist organizations by default. For these authors, Bhagat Singh would be no different than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They may even praise Baghdadi as a revolutionary and condemn Bhagat Singh as a proponent of male chauvinism.
The Report claims that the Hindu organization, RSS has more weapons and armed fighters than Islamic terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Toiba or Hizbul Mujahideen.
Only someone fed on the propaganda of the Taliban and the ISI would believe that but our authors pass this lunatic idea as truth. “The strength of minority militant organizations that use force as a strategy in India is not co-equal to the strength of their Hindu nationalist counterparts.” (p. 80)
Kashmiri secessionism is termed as ‘self-determination movement’. J & K is mentioned as a separate territory which has ‘to be incorporated’ into India. Every time the authors have to mention the ‘militancy’ of Kashmiri Muslims, it is carefully mentioned that there are many of non-violent protests and non-violent actions too.
In the case of Indian Army, no such mention of non-violent methods is made. While the Islamic terrorists are glorified, the Indian Army is demonized. Hindus are called ‘criminals’, Islamic terrorists are called freedom fighters and ‘combatants from minority communities.’ (p. 249) In short, Pakistan’s and ISI’s positions are reiterated as against India’s positions.
One should keep in mind that the most heinous of Islamic terrorists of organizations such as the Al-Qaeda, the ISIS, the Hezbollah and the Hamas also call their terrorists ‘ghazis’ or ‘martyrs’, believing that they are actually doing God’s good work and are chaste fighters in a righteous holy war.
The word that the authors use for Islamic terrorists in Kashmir, ‘combatants’ is not very different from the word ‘ghazis’ and ‘martyrs’. Do the authors actually believe in the ideology of the Islamic terrorists so much so that they have even internalized their terminology?
It is mentioned that certain border areas in India are reluctant to remain in the Indian Union, while nowhere mentioning that Pakistan and China invaded and occupied the Kashmiri territory and that they are also unwelcome in the region, mostly evident from recent protests. (p. 21)
Indian Army is accused of mass rapes (p. 127) without giving any reference whatsoever of any kind.
Regarding the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, the report does not at all mention the role of the Congress Party. It does not mention that it was not in fact a Hindu-Sikh riot, but a Congress-directed genocide of Sikhs.
After ‘proving’ India to be an evil state, that the Indian Army as nothing better than a rapist gang, that Hindus a brutal majority, the authors proceed to term Kashmir as an ‘internal armed conflict’, thus denying that Pakistan or any other foreign agency has significance part to play in it; and then denying that Islam also plays a role in this centuries’ long record of Hindu hatred.
Thus, Project ACRPR is nothing but an exercise of legitimizing and glorifying Islamic terrorists; a covert way of supporting the Islamist agenda of the ISI against India and her innocent people, and a semantic way to cover up the Hinduphobic racism inherent in the report.
Pankaj Saxena is a scholar of History, Hindu Architecture and Literature. He has visited more than 400 sites of ancient Hindu temples and has photographed the evidence. He’s also writes articles, research papers and reviews in various print and online newspapers and magazines and is the author of three books.