ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Anxieties of Hindu Right in Everyday Realm

The attempts by the activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Jagran Manch of Kotdwar, a town in Uttaranchal, to forcefully stop Hindu women from visiting Muslim male tailors illustrate the inclination of the Hindu communalists to propagate the image of the sexually charged, lustful Muslim male, violating the pure body of the Hindu woman. The VHP is trying to operate in both the private and the public domain, attempting to monopolise the field of everyday representation.

In the campaigns and discourses of the Hindu Right in India, gender has become an important means of defining and contributing to sharper divisions between Hindus and Muslims and has critically intersected with assertions of patriarchy and community identity. This phenomenon has been observed across the globe among fundamentalist, racial and communal groups. What concerns me here are the attempts that are being made by the Hindu Right, especially to keep Hindu women away from Muslim men and from symbols, customs and occupations perceived as ‘Muslim’, and the fantasies and cultural discourses surrounding daily interactions between Hindu women and Muslim men. What is also significant here is the extension of this control over women to the realm of everyday. Not only any intimate liaison but even day-to-day contact with Muslims is perceived as a serious threat, leading to a new set of instructions for Hindu women. Further, it has also become another way to attack the ‘Other’.

It is in this context that attempts by the activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Jagran Manch of Kotdwar, a town in Uttaranchal, to forcefully stop Hindu women from visiting Muslim male tailors (The Indian Express, Delhi, November 16, 2001, p 1) need to be seen.

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