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Alliance For Social Justice And The Muslim Political Visibility : Modalities of Untouchability

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We congratulate the newly elected students’ union of University of Hyderabad and salute the students’ fraternity for such a mature mandate in the context of the massive saffron attacks on marginalized communities across the country. Alliance for Social Justice has been illustrative of emerging political resistance for its unfettered diversity and democratic spirit with the potential of united dissent. We extend our compliments to ASA for initiating such an alliance which embodies the aspirations of various oppressed voices. We also appreciate the readiness of all other organizations, including DSU, TSF, SFI, MSF and TVV to join with alliance to confront ABVP in the election. BSF, AISA and other students’ organizations deserves special appreciation for their unconditional support to the alliance. We would also like to extend our greetings to our own cadres, who spend their time and energy by hard working for the success of this alliance.

University of Hyderabad has a history of dynamic Dalit-Bahujan politics, which always echoed the resistance to any sort of oppression. With the entry of Muslim students, catered through the implementation of OBC reservation in higher education institutions in 2007, Dalit-Bahujan politics started to inculcate a language to address the specific questions related to Muslim issues. This conscious effort to articulate a political discourse of Dalit-Bahujan-Muslim solidarity has led to the visible political articulation of Muslim questions, enhanced through Muslim organizational presence of Muslim Students Federation (MSF) and Students Islamic Organization (SIO). It could finally actualize the electoral victory of Dalit-Bahujan-Muslim movements in 2014-15 under the banner of UDA. Circumventing the parental attitude of any organizations as the self proclaimed torch bearers of progressiveness and revolution, the alliance could produce new meanings to the idea of democracy and justice. Not of out of context, we would like to affirm that, as large chunk of Muslims in the campus belong to OBC category, Muslims has to emerge as a powerful force in keeping a bar against the hinduisation of OBC category.

Formation of Alliance for Social Justice has to be viewed in this context along with the larger context of unprecedented attacks against marginal identities like Muslims, Dalits and Adivasi and sangh parivar dominance over universities. By virtue of Islamic teaching “cooperate in good deeds but not in transgression”, SIO always has a welcoming gesture to larger fight against fascism, the evil/transgression of our times and thus whole heartedly supported the formation of the alliance. Keeping away the ideological and identitarian differences, other democratic forces in the campus also came together for the idea of Alliance for Social Justice. At the same time, we uphold de-brahminization as an agential process in any fight against fascism in Indian context.

Unfortunately, some of the anti Muslim elements in Students Federation of India (SFI) has shown symptoms of brahminical purity in maintaining their distance from Muslim organizations even after the alliance agreements on modalities of behaving each other, in which SIO was also a part. If SIO was the target from the very beginning, MSF came into the picture soon after the counting of votes. The untouchability shown towards SIO resembles the reversed idea of graded inequality, where they will not touch directly, but only through the mediatory role of Dalit movements. The Islamophobic chants, resembling anti-Muslim RSS rhetoric, entered its full swing with politically naïve and hateful slogans containing racial-Islamophobic connotations, the resentment shown towards the flags of Muslim organizations and their assertive slogans. It demonstrates SFI’s radical untouchability/graded touchability to the zones of Muslim political agency. This hate and hatred, funded and propagated against emerging Muslim political praxis is strongly condemnable. We would like to state that Islamophobia is not about electing any Muslim into the students union, but about rejecting/accepting Islam as a legitimate political force. Placing Islam and Hinduism in the same footing or complete rejection of political articulation based on religion as religious fundamentalism will not yield any result in furthering the democratic politics. As long as the binary conventions of nationalism/communalism are prevailing, any attempt to articulate the Muslim political self, as Dr. BR Ambedkar with his perspicacity predicted decades back, will be eventually branded communal.

We also feel that the centering the debate on SIO is ill-intended at invisibilizing the political presence of Ambedkarite, Dalit and Tribal movements and their leading role in transforming the political discourse. Specter of Syed Maulana Maududi is raised time and again as way of diminishing and doubting the importance of anti caste struggles and revolutionary transformation it can precipitate. Absence of SFI in the victory march has been a crucial marker of their indolence and intolerance to a Dalit-Bahujan led electoral front. We consider it as a serious threat to the spirit of Alliance for Social Justice and urge the alliance partners to rethink on our modalities of engaging.

As an institutional aspect, it is to be particularly noted that, even though there is much larger body of literature produced regarding Islam/Islamism/Islamic political theory in global academia, HCU academic domain is still facing a serious insolvency of such discourses. The crucial lack of understanding of any Islamic political discourse in UOH has been a testimony to the reigning indifference of the hegemonic secular academia to the aspirations, knowledge and articulation of a most persecuted community in the country. This seemingly suspicious ignorance has been reflected in daily political discourse and enabled by the age old episodic crackbrained propaganda. It has to be noted that, the only two questions posed by ABVP against ASJ in the presidential debate was centered on Muslims and Islam. The nasty slogans on Syed Maulana Maududi, one of the illustrious Islamic scholars of 20th century, are also recurrently proving imprudent in discerning the nature and operation of secular and Islamic discourses in apprehending contemporary Muslim theologico-political questions.

It’s imperative to understand, prior to masticate the pieces of cake from what Dalit-Bahujans had hitherto achieved, that community is the central political category here. That is to say, the age of the idea of politics/emancipation being principled on traditional-left-secular categories is contested. To break this convention, hence with its immense risk, shall be preceding any attempt of actualizing a politics of difference in the context of caste hegemony. ‘Nascent’ Islamic political discourse has been sprung up as a radical possibility of thinking about liberation especially in the context of caste. As Judith Butler has stated, “those biased against Islam will have to get used to the idea that demands for democratization can and do emerge within Muslim lexicons and practice, and that democratic polities can and must be composed of various groups, religious and not. Islam is clearly part of the mix”. In this context, we urge the academic community to have a deeper and serious engagement with the questions of Islamic politics and Muslim problem in India.

Once again, we reiterate that the idea of Alliance for Social Justice is a model for the entire country to fight against Brahmanical fascism. Shortcomings of the alliance have to be resolved through meaningful debates and discussions, taking up minor/marginalized questions. All stake holders in Alliance for Social Justice, including SIO, have to move forward engaging critically with the multiple possibilities of forming alliance in a self reflexive way.

SIO-UoH

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