Featured image: riots in the district of Nuh, State of Haryana. Source: The Hindu.
In the afternoon of Monday of July 31, new riots erupted in India, specifically in the State of Haryana. The clashes started after the demonstration of two Hindu nationalist reactionary groups, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The demonstration went inside the Nuh district (together with other districts, in some media this territory is also called “Mewat”) which population is mainly Muslim. In this mobilization many of the participants were armed and had launched multiple threats against the residents of the area they were going to attend via social media. In addition, the demonstration was attended by reactionary elements that had previously murdered members of the Muslim community.
Facing this threat, the masses of Nuh, mostly poor peasants and workers took the streets and rejected the reactionary mobilization with a lot of stones, and also faced the security forces of the old Indian State due to their collaboration with the reactionary groups. After that the repression of the old Indian State and the reactionary paramilitary groups against the people began. We have previously reported on that. From the first day, the State banned access to the Internet, forbid meetings of four or more people and deployed thousands of paramilitaries and police forces in the area. Just during the first day, three police officers of the Indian State were killed and dozens of civilians were injured.
With the arrival of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Modi to the government in 2014, the use of religious and ethnic divisions was sharpened to put the masses of the people against each other. The Indian State is using especially the impoverished masses of each territory as a target to being attacked by other masses, and is also using the reactionary paramilitary groups as shock-forces. In Haryana and its surroundings areas, several clashes have occurred in the recent years: in New Delhi there were strong clashes in the year 2020 following a new discriminatory law against the Muslim population in India, causing strong riots and massacres of Muslims. In total, there were 38 killed people and more than 200 injured people. In 2021, in Gurugram, Haryana, there were attacks by reactionary Hindu groups against Muslims trying to pray in public on Fridays. The media always described these clashes as religious clashes, and specifically referring to them as a confrontation between Hindus and Muslims.
But what we must take into account is who actually are these Muslims and why are they the target of the ruling classes: the State of Haryana is not one of the poorest within the Indian State. But within Haryana, the Nuh district was considered the most underdeveloped district of all the whole India in 2018. The Indian State and its official institutions affirmed that the poverty figures have descended greatly in recent years, but still, they affirmed in the year 2021, the Nuh’s poverty rate remained much higher than Haryana’s average. After the Nuh district Palwal is the second poorest and the district with the second largest Muslim population in Haryana. The rest of the districts have a much lower population of this kind, and usually the figures show they are far from poverty. The people of this area are mostly peasants and many of the Muslims are shepherds. For this reason, the reactionary groups of “cow vigilantes” serve as the shock-troops of the ruling classes, which steal the cattle of the shepherds or force them to bring it on their terrotories, making them pay a high price. All this leads to profit from the peasants efforts or concentrate the herds of cattle in few hands, and dispossess the poor shepherds from their cattle. On the other hand, many demolitions of houses have been conducted against the most impoverished working class that live in shanty towns in many areas of Haryana. For all this, this repression prepared by the ruling classes is directly against a most impoverished part of the people. Hence, the ruling classes are using another part of the people, also impoverished, to attack the other under the pretext of irreconcilable religious differences.
The role of the Indian State in this issue is fundamental: the BJP government intensifies clashes within the people in many places, especially with the masses that make up minorities, and the most impoverished areas or where the contradictions of bureaucratic capitalism are most sharp; another key issue is that the State allows reactionary militias to act freely, thus repressing the people constantly and serving their interests, as in the case of the concentration of cattle; the State also deploys more repressive forces in the places where the clashes explode, making the repression of the masses there easier and gain more control. Another of the most prominent actions of the Indian State is the demolition of houses and other properties of the poor peasantry, the working class and petty bourgeoisie who are considered as a problem or are a minority. In Haryana, after two weeks of State action, 1,208 properties have been demolished.
This demolition of houses is a very important issue for the impoverished masses of the Indian State. Masses have been denouncing it for years because their homes, business, etc., are being demolished. These denouncements have been made not just in Haryana, but in many other territories such as Delhi, Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh. Another very clear example was the G20 held in Delhi, which accelerated hundreds of demolitions of the houses of impoverished masses of people, leaving them homeless. In order to demolish these properties, multiple excuses are used: that houses are illegally built; that these houses are in territory that suddenly is considered protected or reserved natural area; that their owners are criminals and the demolition is part of the penalty to pay. These masses that are normally grouped under Muslim religion, have denounced that this is an ethnic cleaning policy by the most reactionary Hindu nationalism.
The Indian State is not doing this alone. Also the State is giving resources and using reactionary paramilitary organizations, such as the two that demonstrated on July 31st in Nuh. Using these organizations in Haryana, the Indian State can criminalize, harass and attack the poorest masses using the religion as an excuse. If the masses justly rise against the harassment by the reactionaries, the Indian State will have an excuse to intervene and brutally repress the masses, sharpening their control and the militarization of the streets. All this also causes the people of Haryana to be in constant tension and conflict, not putting attention on their true enemy: the Indian ruling classes that steel from them their lands and cattle, and condemn them to poverty.
The use of these reactionary ideas and reactionary armed groups against the people as a way of putting masses against masses are usual practices of the old Indian State. This is something that we can see for example also in Manipur and how there the use of an alleged division between the Meitei and Kuki/Naga tribes, causing disputes within the people. Therefore, the ruling classes can focus on continuing to dispossess the poor peasantry, both in Manipur and in Haryana and facilitate exploitation on the people.
Bourgeois media are mainly accomplices in this problem, due to they frequently mask reality, talking about “religious” or “ethnic/tribal” conflicts. Even many of them have been equidistant and have talked about clashes between one group and another, without reflecting that there are oppressed masses and putting aside the class aspect, the role of the old Indian State and the Indian ruling classes.