Feminist writer and academic J Devika has, on a debate on a Malayalam news channel vowed to boycott Hindu temples and not enter them in the light of the Asifa rape and murder case in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir. Her decision comes after the nation rose in various forms of protest against the violence against women and children by Sangh Parivar to which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) belongs. The TV channel was holding a discussion on the recent events where rapists and accomplices were being protected by BJP and had MP N. K. Premachandran, S. Jayasuryan from BJP and Prof. Sachin Narayanan from Delhi University along with J Devika as panelists.
The video clip of J Devika’s statement has gone viral on social media and is being seen as a welcome step against the rape apologists of right wing Hindu parties.
Speaking of the Kathua rape and murder where Asifa, an eight-year-old Bakerwal Muslim girl was raped by multiple people inside a temple and strangled to death, Devika said that the people of Kerala need to start worrying about such crimes happening even in places as far as Jammu. She said that her biggest concern was the young men and boys who had been adopted by Sangh Parivar for training in Kerala, and that there was no doubt that there is a group of people who define themselves as ‘RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) families’ existing in the state. BJP and numerous right wing Hindu organizations and parties belong to this umbrella Hindu party in India.
Speaking about RSS ‘shakhas,’ training camps of RSS, she said that young boys were being injected with the ideology of hate over there. Being an academic herself, she said that this was becoming more and more visible in classrooms where students were unwilling to get convinced about matters even when sufficient evidence and data are provided to them. ‘They think that they only need to act according to what ‘Bhaiyya ji’ (Respected brother) or ‘Ram Madhav’ (National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party) tell them,’ she said.
Pointing out the incident of Vishnu Nandakumar, a Malayali youth being dismissed from his job for posting hateful comments against Asifa on social media, Devika said that the man grew up in an RSS family. (Nandakumar is the brother of BJP State General Secretary A. N. Radhakrishnan and son of E. N. Nandakumar, a BJP leader. He was also active as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Mandal Karyavahak.) A non-bailable case has been registered against Nandakumar in the light of the incident. She said that he was only displaying the culture of an RSS family while posting such hateful content on social media.
Devika also pointed out that in savarna Hindu families like hers, there are always people who think the same way as Nandakumar and that the community should be willing to expose them and socially isolate them. ‘Till Asifa Banu gets complete justice I will not go to any temple,’ she said and added that she could only hear the cries of the victim when she entered temples now. ‘A temple will never be a place where we can enter, anymore,’ she reiterated. Along with it she declared that she was going to boycott all autorickshaws (a common means of transport in Kerala) that displayed the pictures of Rudra Hanuman, (a Hindu god displayed in a ferocious demeanour) and anybody, places or businesses that displayed right wing Hindu symbols. She then said that she was going to do the same with any of her family members who shared the opinion of people like Nandakumar.
On a closing note, she added that she was dropping the practice of attaching ‘respected’ while addressing BJP panelists and that she would not use the word to address the BJP representative S. Jayasuryan, on the show. ‘I have no respect for them and it is better that all of them leave the place as soon as possilble,’ she said.