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Are social activists becoming vulnerable in the present elections?
Lok Sabha elections are going on across the country. Political parties are busy in wooing voters through election rallies, door-to door campaigns. Political rivals attacking each other in the rallies and sometimes physically has become a trend, though the later is severely condemnable.

Political attacks are one thing, but why the social activists are being physically and verbally attacked during the elections? Recently, a noted Delhi based activist Shabnam Hashmi, who runs an NGO Anhad, had been attacked when she was in Raebareli. Similarly an activist S.Q. Masood, who was working as an observer for the Aam Aadmi Party at Golkonda in the Hyderabad's Karwan Assembly Constituency was also attacked.

A follower of Hashmi wrote on her personal Facebook page, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the attack on Shabnam Hashmi in Rai Barley. Shabnam Hashmi and her associate were attacked by a gang of about 20 hoodlums who snatched all the Leaflets while pushing and abusing Shabnam Hashmi in the most foul and sexist terms. At the police station Shabnam had to argue with the SHO to register an FIR The SHO did not register FIR yet. We demand that the hoodlums are immediately apprehended and coercive tactics of the BJP not be allowed by the local administration.”

Why social activists have become so vulnerable in this election season? We spoke to some noted activists in a bid to reach to a possible conclusion behind these attacks.

Ali Asghar, Founder Member and Gen. Secretary at Grass Roots Action & Information Network (GRAIN), Hyderabad

Ali AsgharViolence, hooliganism, and disruption of the democratic process is common to all fundamentalist elements in the political sphere. Last evening some goons (a.k.a party workers) from the muslim fundamentalist Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen party attacked noted activist S.Q. Masood, working as an observer for the Aam Aadmi Party at Golkonda in the Karwan Assembly Constituency, Hyderabad.

Similarly, three days ago well known activist Shabnam Hashmi and Pratap Singh Negi were attacked by BJP workers in Rae Bareli, UP while distributing leaflets exposing the Gujarat development claims. The workers threatened to rape Ms. Hashmi if she did not relent. In both cases the police refused to register FIRs. These brazen acts of violence by both Hindu and Muslim fundamentalist parties, within the protective umbrella of the police, are horrifying and must be strongly condemned. These parties are breeding an inhumane culture of intolerance in the name of religion and corrupting the law and order system.These incidents provide a glimpse of the hatred, disorder and deteriorated law & order situation that will be the order of the day when these parties come into power.

Ram Puniyani, Social Activist associated with All India Secular Forum

Ram PunyaniThe attack on Shabnam Hashmi, Pratap Singh Negi by BJP goons is reflective of various things. Firstly it shows the intolerant atmosphere created by the BJP propaganda machinery, backed up by RSS workers that those holding different political opinion are looked down upon. The way Giriraj Singh has said that those not voting for Modi will be sent to Pakistan is a one reflection of that. Secondly the state is not very effective in giving protection to the independent secular democratic voices. It also reflects that the communal forces are very desperate and to grab power they will resort to any method, including physical attacks on the opponents. This also shows that by chance if they come to power they will to to any length to suppress the voices of opposition. In a way this attitude is the base on which the authoritarian state and fascist methods base themselves.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Social Activist

Vidya Bhushan RawatSocial activists are vulnerable because now in the times of all these hypes they are the only people who are able to see beyond the hypes. So they become a kind of threat. Process of communalisation of middle classes is taking place. So, those who are challenging these notions are being considered as an obstacle, whether it is Shabnam Hashmi or any one who speaks against Hindutva which is a common middle class constituency at the moment. They are considered as anti-Indian or anti-national, castists, obstacle in the way of Narendra Modi.

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