These are not Clashes, 

This is a Pogrom

The killings that took place in Delhi these last couple of days have to be understood within abroader political climate that normalizes the systemic othering of muslims.

CHARU PRAGYA

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This was not a clash. 


The killings that took place in Delhi these last couple of days have to be understood within abroader political climate that normalizes the systemic othering of muslims. BJP leaders use their constitutional position for credibility and then promote hate speech in electoral campaigns, pitting Hindus against Muslims, casting the latter as illegitimate citi-zens or traitors, and exhorting their support-ers to shoot down anyone they deem to be a "gaadar". 

What happened in Delhi stands as a proof of the kind of destruction and violence that can occur when the rulincy nnlitical party bases its appeal on Hindu nationalism, wedded to ideas of religious homogeneity and superiority. Yes, there were both Muslim as well as Hindu casualties; but that does not mean "both sides are to be blamed equally" because we cannot draw an equivalence between the retaliation of individuals belonging to a persecuted minority and the state-aided mobs which burned down 4 mosques, targeted Muslim house-holds, told journalists that they're only being - spared because of their Hindu names.

 

We cannot now conveniently forget that this started with Kapil Mishra telling the police to evict anti-CAA protesters, giving them a three day ultimatum, and threatening to take matters in his own hands; all this while the deputy com-missioner of police of the NE district stood besides him. The carnage started soon after Mishra left the venue, as his men felt emboldened to act on the BJP leader's threats and the police's passivity. It is also worthwhile to note that Delhi Police has refused the High Court's dictate to file an FIR against Mishra. Ask yourself, is this truly both-sided? 

 

Ditch the both-sided narrative because it reinforces a nefarious myth: the tendency to see any and all violence by Hindus as being essentially "good" because of it being retaliatory (against peaceful-protests in this case) versus the actions of "bad" Muslims, whose very existence in this country is then seen as an incitement of violence against them. Giving into this both-sided tactic affirms a logic of action-reaction that ignores the causes that lead to this tragedy. Using the term clashes absolves the armed "Jai Shri Ram" chanting mobs and the BJP-leader who instigated the violence of primary culpability. 

The term clash also fails to hold the state accountable for its complicity in allowing a breakdown of the rule of law, and in some cases actively facilitating violence. The subsequent actions taken by the authorities clearly convey the message that this government does not treat all citizens equally: while some receive extra-judicial protection, others aren't even guaranteed their constitutional rights. 

 

What is a pogrom?


"Pogroms constitute a special class of riots when state police, instead of acting neutrally to crush riots, (a) looks on while mobs go on a rampage, or (b) explicitly aids violent mobs"

 

The word "pogrom", a Russian term that refers to this phenomenon of state-directed mob violence, accurately captures the insecurity and vulnerability felt by Muslims in Delhi. Unlike the term clash, pogrom by definition includes both state complicity and the existence of structural power imbalances in fuelling systemic violence. 
 

Do labels even matter? 


Labels allow us to make sense of the causes, develop mechanisms to prevent further escala-tion, and retain an accurate picture of the I events for posterity. This makes the act of labelling a part of the process internal to the production and reproduction of violence. Assigning an accurate label is an essential step in exposing to view the dynamic processes that produced the violence, assessing culpability, and ensuring prevention; using "clashes" here is a diversionary tactic meant to obfuscate where responsibility for the violence truly lies. 
 

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