Dear comrades, friends and well-wishers,
On 15 August this year we have entered the 75th year of our Independence from colonial rule. A solemn occasion indeed! We need to take a retrospective view right now of where the journey of the nation through all these years has brought us and to map our way forward! A most bloody and dark map of the route ahead has been provided by our Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech.
The lesson to be learned from the trauma of communal conflict and the pain of partition which accompanied Independence is to ensure that we may never be divided again among ourselves; but Modispeak turned this lesson upside down and converted the occasion into one for breast-thumping and muscle-flexing against possible ‘enemies’ within and without who may happen to criticize his fascistic demonstrations of power. His speech is calculated to establish that the route ahead is through hatred, domination and destruction! Just see how his plan for the ‘Central Vista’ consists in destroying what should have been preserved as heritage! He does not mind ruining our national treasures and assets purely in order to allow his cronies in the corporate world to make profits!
We women have an important role in ensuring that he does not succeed in taking us down this route. Our predecessors fought an unremitted battle against colonial rulers in their own time to bring Independence. Let us not fail them. Mere formal celebrations of this year are not for us. Let us use the occasion to propagate a culture of resistance against the traps of fear and hatred that our rulers are setting in front of us. While we are organising this let us also not forget our neighbours in Afghanistan, more than ever under the shadow of fear and hatred at present.
US imperialists have withdrawn their armed forces from the country, the government set up by them has collapsed and the Taliban have returned intensifying the atmosphere of dread and uncertainty for women, ethnic minorities and democratically-minded people in general. How imperialist intervention on one hand and the rule of religious fanaticism on the other can ruin a country is amply evident there. Acts of terror are being committed right now and Biden is calling for revenge; but the scenario remains utterly chaotic and the distress of the people is unbounded. The Hindutva forces in our country instead of demonstrating true humanitarian concern for a neighbouring country are already using this scenario to stir up Islamophobia.
While demanding that the UN-led international community must ensure that whatever government is formed in Afghanistan is formed through negotiations and not force of arms and that it is committed to protect the rights of women and ethnic minorities, we have to provide protection and support to Afghan citizens, particularly students, who are now in India irrespective of religion. In the 75th year of our Independence let us also strengthen and broaden our campaign against all forms of fundamentalism whether represented by the Manuvadis or the Taliban.
Malini Bhattacharya, President, All India Democratic Women’s Association