Should a Khasi woman from Shillong join #NotInMyName Campaign?

I write this as a non-Hindu, tribal, middle class woman from a region scarred by the continued struggle of being and non-being in relation to the Indian State. I write this as a person who has rejected the Indian identity because India has a difficulty accepting me. I write this as a human being caught in the crossroads of progressive politics within an oppressive nation-state- one whose flesh is kept alive on my skin by its laws and guns.

I with my comrades from Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR), a people’s organisation from Meghalaya returning from the protest at Jantar Mantar Delhi

India has always had blood on its hand, and its image, which continually strives for cohesion and dignity, is still a source of terror in the lives of many, mine and others. However, in acknowledging the almost natural association of violence with this country, I am not and will never accept the idea that injustice should or will continue to reap and flourish in this space, with or without its borders. As we are confronted with the realities of killings and lynches of Muslims, Dalits and other marginalized groups everyday, a phenomenon which has statistically escalated post-NDA government, I ask myself if we really should lose ourselves in debates about the “right” way to model and sustain a protest against Hindutva politics and the fascist regime that breeds it. Yes, reflection is imperative but we also have to accept that oppression and injustice are not monolithic in nature and in their manifestations. People come from various complex subject positions, with our respective privileges and oppressed realities, and perhaps grudgingly come to terms with the fact that there will never be a politically perfect movement.

I personally had many problems with the #NotInMyName Campaign for reasons that have been pointed out by many – its Brahmanical and Left elitism amongst others – and I resent that truth. But I shall also not dismiss it completely, not because I want to be complacent but because, reactionary as it is, it is a movement across sixteen locations in the country and beyond that is expressing a collective rejection of the growing fatalistic violence and brutalities unleashed on minorities, a violence that is an extension of the silent and malignant power of the BJP and its allies. Yes, it is unfortunate that a large movement such as this emerges only now that upper-caste, elite and mostly heterosexual good Indian citizens from various communities can no longer be blind to the discrimination and terror that make up the identity of this country, but as a person who has been both a victim and a perpetuator of some of the structural oppressions that exist here, I do not feel that intellectual and political mud-slinging is the answer either. In fact, the divisive nature of progressive politics in this country at present is being heartily relished by the Right. I could go on a long philosophical and political tirade, trying to understand if my Christian tribal name has even an inch of a presence in #NotInMyName and perhaps even in the catalogue of “Indian citizenship” (which exists mostly in the minds of people) but I shall not- I shall not because while I am appreciative of the diversity and complexity of opinions, I am also pathetically exhausted from weighing the pros and cons of each article that gets published on #NotInMyName because I know that ultimately, we are all trying to survive and fight alongside each other against lynchers, murderers (with or without uniform) and the State that materially or immaterially supports them.


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Gertrude Lamare Written by:

Gertrude Lamare, scholar, pedagogue and a member of Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR),

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