The ‘Jai Sriram’ posters betray a violent intent

Written by Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd | Published on: November 20, 2017

After the attempt to subvert the public meeting by arrests, the same forces started another ploy of plastering ‘Jai Sriram’ posters around my apartment.


Representational image

With the debate on the Arya-Vysya attack against me was taking place at the national and international level two things have happened. One, the Chandrababu Naidu government in alliance with BJP in Andhra Pradesh confined me in my home on October 28 so that I would not go to Vijayawada (Amaravathi) and attend a public meeting being held by the Samajika Joint Action Committee of Andhra Pradesh.

They also arrested thousands of people from all over Andhra Pradesh. All those detained are from productive communities, including Kammas, Kapus and Reddys. The Banias and Brahmins were opposed to that meeting irrespective of their parities. The SJAC was headed by Y Koteshwar Rao (80) with a spirit of young man who worked tirelessly. The police arrested him and several hundred others. At several places lathi-charges were made. From Karnool -- the town where TDP MP TG Venkatesh owns massive properties and lives in a mansion --, hundreds of men and women reached Vijayawada. There were more women in that team than men. They were all arrested at Vijayawada and taken to various distant police stations.

At Hyderabad, when more than 150 people belonging to T-MASS and other organizations started for Vijayawada from my residence they were all arrested. U Smabashiva Rao, well-known social activist, Vimalakka, a well-known folk singer, were arrested in Hyderabad city itself and and taken to different police stations. Why did the Hyderabad police take this step when the meeting was in Vijayawada? Obviously the Centre was involved in the whole issue. Since Naidu functions under the direction of Delhi he had no option but do this. The Hindutva government at Delhi is hostile towards the right to freedom of expression. Unfortunately Naidu followed their dictate.   

All this brutal suppression exposed the Arya-Vysya community to more scrutiny of the SC/ST/OBC and the Sudra producers from village shops. Checking and mass auditing of their businesses across Andhra Pradesh more than in Telangana is now being done by the village youth. This conflict between the producer-sellers and the buying Vysyas in the Telugu states is going to be a long term issue. This will have huge impact on the seller-buyer relations for long time to go.

In the political domain every party has its own concerns as the Vysyas are the richest cash donors for elections. The most worried party is the BJP. The BJP gets highest amount of donations. After the attempt to subvert the public meeting by arrests, as that itself exposed the role of social smuggling in business, the same forces started another ploy of plastering ‘Jai Sriram’ posters around my apartment. On November 4, they put a poster, Moorkudaina Ilaiahnu Skamiddam, Hinduisanni Kapadudam—Jai Sriram! It roughly translates as “Let us excuse idiot Ilaiah and save Hinduism—Jai Sriram’’. One can easily understand what its actual meaning is.  As I said in my police complaint at Osmania University police station on November 6, 2017 on this poster issue:    
   
“When they use the slogan ‘Jai Sriram’ it has a serious attack connotation. If they were to say ‘Jai Srikrishna’, that would have connoted peace and love. In the whole country, the Yadava community (to which I am a part) uses ‘Jai Srikrishna’ as god of animal grazing and production, but not as war hero. My community is the one which grazes sheep, goat, buffaloes and cows. In this context ‘Jai Sriram’ has a dangerous warning signal to me”.

According to Bheenaveni Ram Shepherd a young and upcoming social anthropology scholar, who teaches at Osmania University: “Krishna was born in a prison and later shifted to Gokulam, a place of cattle-raisers. He was brought-up by his foster parents Nanda and Yashoda as a cow and buffalo boy.  Raja Ravivarma has shown only white cows around him. But Yadavs in the post-Harappa period grazed both animals… It is crystal clear that Krishna is not a strict follower of Varnadharma as he himself married a Kshatriya (Rukhmini), Adivasi mountaineer (Jambavati), Naga (Nagajithni), and Satyabhama (Ahir/Yadav). Krishna was always an independent thinker and doer whereas Rama was dependent and loyal to Manu dharma. Krishna possessed the courage to disturb the Varnadharmic structures.  This is why, Sangh Parivar took Rama as their icon and they made Krishna as a playboy”.

This is a significant narrative that tells why the Yadavs adore Krishna but not Rama. This is amply clear in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar political battles, where the Yadavs stood up against these ‘Jai Sriram’ forces. 

However, why do hate mongers or murder strategists use divine images to communicate their plan to attack someone? The ISIS forces use the name of “Allah” to communicate similar game plans. The Hindutva forces use the name Ram to communicate their nefarious designs. They have used this slogan just before every communal riot.

Why did the Arya-Vysya community which is said to follow the Gandhian tradition get into this vertex? Look at the big business and the capitalist immorality that sinks to the level of using the Nathuram Godse kind of strategy against me for writing a book, a book that was cleared by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court. The love for money and luxury of community can take it to any level, as against a movement of anti-caste and anti-exploitative order.

The BJP owns all these strategies quite unabashedly. It is the ruling party in the nation. If a dissenting voice is threatened with this kind of violence, we all must stand up and say, “this nation will not allow this, death or no death”. If the capitalist ethic gets into a communal garb and threatens every working class voice with this slogan, I am sure that nation is on the way of moral and ethical death.

The capitalist exploiters have to be exposed in terms of their nefarious day-to-day designs, whether casteist or not. Exploitation is exploitation. If the ruling party goes to the rescue of exploiters using religion or caste comfort zone, the left liberals should not remain silent as they are doing now. Do they think that what I have coined as ‘social smuggling’ does not apply to the Indian mode of caste-class exploitation? Let us join hands to ensure that the ‘Jai Sriram’ slogan does not intimidate us put into putting our pens down. 

(The author is a member of T-MASS that works for SC/ST/OBC and poor people's rights).