Who are these Saffronists to tell Not to Name a Park after Fr Stan Swamy in a Jesuit Property?
Mangaluru: With all the present Tension, Communal Riots, Moral Policing, Hate, etc going on in our Country in its 75th year of Independence from the Britishers, it looks like India is no longer an ‘electoral democracy, but an ‘electoral autocracy’ instead, with much of the decline in democratic freedoms occurred after the present government came to power in 2014. While India is considered as a BIG DEMOCRATIC country in the World, what’s going on at present is ÚN-DEMOCRATIC’? We see and hear daily, not only in the country, even right here in our DK/Mangaluru, about Communal Tension, Life Threats, Goondagiri, Moral Policing etc. by the saffron activists, and nothing much has been done since the ruling government and law enforcement officials are hand-in-hand- which is a sad thing to note for people who believe in Democracy.
And here is one instance that arose when a press meet was arranged in the City by a few Right-wing groups opposing St Aloysius Institutions, Mangaluru decision to name a park after Fr Stan Swamy, in one of their institution premises in Beeri, in the outskirts of Mangaluru. The naming of the park decision taken by St Aloysius Institution to name one of its parks after Jesuit priest and tribal activist Father Stan Swamy has come in for opposition from right-wing forums like Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal. They have even threatened to stage a protest if the Jesuit institution goes ahead with the plan.
At a press meet held at a hotel in the City, the Chiefs of VHP, Bajrang Dal and ABVP outfits opposed the decision of St Aloysius Institutions management to name the park after Father Swamy. Addressing the media, VHP zonal secretary Sharan Pumpwell said, “Swamy was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and was facing serious allegations like terrorism and Naxalism for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregoan violence. It is an insult to the social system to name a park after him. The move by an old institution like St Aloysius College, which has contributed immensely to the field of education, to name a park after a person like Stan Swamy is akin to it indirectly challenging national unity and such a development is shocking”.
“And if St Aloysius Institutions management goes ahead with the plan, we will carry out a strong protest, following which the institution will be responsible if there is any untoward incident. We have already conveyed our opposition to the institution management and also have submitted a memorandum to DK Deputy Commissioner Dr K V Rajendra”, added Sharan.
Also speaking at the press meet, ABVP State Secretary Manikanta said, “We will support and will have no issues that instead of naming the park after Stan Swamy the Institution management can name it after personalities like former Union Ministers Oscar Fernandes or George Fernandes, who have contributed a lot to the country. We would have not raised our opposition in naming the park after Stan Swamy if all the cases pending in the Court are cleared of all the charges on Stan Swamy”.
Meanwhile, St Aloysius Institutions Rector Fr Melwin Pinto SJ had said: “We will go ahead with our naming of park plan and we will not budge for such threats from these activists because in their own words they have said that Father Stan Swamy is an accused and nothing has been proven against him. Then what stops us from doing it? We have postponed today’s event as we did not want to trouble the police when they are busy with the President’s visit and the alternate date of inauguration will be fixed soon”. The naming of the park programme which was scheduled for Thursday 7 October morning, has now been postponed based on the suggestion of city police that President of India Ram Nath Kovind will be visiting the city on Thursday, and there should be any protest or untoward incident to take place.
But in the end, it is very confusing and doesn’t make any sense to note that, who are these people to stop the naming of the park after Stan Swamy, who is a member of the Jesuit Congregation, and the park being in a Jesuit property, and not in the public property. It would be totally wrong and I would have agreed with these activists to oppose the naming of the park after Stan if it was on public land. Bah humbug!
And on the issues of Moral Policing etc going on in Dakshina Kannada in recent times, Social Activist Vidya Dinker speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “Dakshina Kannada is a cosmopolitan region, don’t tarnish its image. A parallel form of governance being advocated is problematic on several levels. We know very well that words condemning violence are hollow. What happens on the ground is very different – the fringe elements indulge in goondaism. It is common knowledge that in a mob, people don’t stop at just advising, violence is just minutes away. Over the years, the distrust among the two major communities has only increased, fuelled by the politics of the region”.
“In Dakshina Kannada today, people can’t just freely mingle with each other. Just an act of being together, talking or eating out, can be seen as an invitation to harass if the people are from different communities. Now, random men can just barge in and question you, ask your name, heckle you for being with someone from another community and there is little you can do. People just seem to accept it. It has been worsened by the fact that police hesitate to book such people under stringent sections. Unfortunately, people seem to have mutely accepted the idea of love jihad, cow jihad and love jihad. It’s all about political power. A project of hate and fear of another community. There is no denying the political nature of it. It brings in more groups, castes into their fold”.
“This serves as the unifying factor of us versus them, that helps them. If such groups don’t have faith in the police and our courts, how do they claim to be Indian? Or are they wanting to change the Constitution? Perhaps, it would be better for these people to be open about it – say it openly that we want India to be pushed back by centuries. This parallel government cannot be accepted. It’s time for police to also take action, people need to hold elected representatives accountable. Unless people come together, we can’t have our Dakshina Kannada back. We were known for our diversity, our culture and our harmony, but now a couple of incidents have marred the reputation of the region. For as long as there are a couple of Saffron group chiefs in our region, we can never go back to our good old times”, added Vidya.