April Reel and Meal: Ram ke Naam – a film about right-wing extremism and mob violence

Reel and Meal


“Ram ke Naam”

 (In the Name of God)

A film about right-wing extremism and mob violence

Monday, April 19, 2021

Registration is required: https://tinyurl.com/ReelnMealApr

English Subtitles** 

Vegan meal option: Phone in your pre-order to the COOP deli at 301.474.0522 by 1:00pm on Monday 4/19/2021 for pick-up between 4:00pm and 7:00pm at the deli.

On April 19, Reel and Meal will feature Ram ke Naam (In the Name of God). The film begins at 7 p.m.; entry to the Zoom event starts at 6:45 p.m. Discussion to follow. Registration is required – please use this link to register: https://tinyurl.com/ReelnMealApr.

**Note: the film is in Hindi with English subtitles, please view it on a computer rather than on a smart phone so that you are able to read the subtitles in English. Be aware that there are also a few scenes of graphic violence.

This 1991 documentary examines the events leading up to the 1992 destruction of the Babri Masjid, one of the largest and oldest Muslim places of worship in India. In 1990, the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Hindu nationalist organization, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), began a “Ram Rath Yatra,” a political rally using a chariot, to the city of Ayodhya. The VHP and BJP are rooted in an umbrella Hindu nationalist organization called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), all of which are mentioned in the film. The Ram Rath Yatra aimed to create support for building a temple on this site to the Hindu deity, Rama. At the front of the procession sat the president of the BJP, L. K. Advani, in his role as charioteer.

Shortly after the events of the film, a rally at the site of the Babri Masjid in 1992 involving more than 100,000 VHP and BJP activists degenerated into an act of mob violence that demolished the mosque. Over the following weeks, waves of violence between Hindus and Muslims erupted all over the country, killing over 2,500 people. 

Of interest to us is the way that Advani and the BJP were able to manipulate Hindu extremism for their own political gains. In 1984, the BJP had two seats in the Indian Parliament; in 1991 it had 120 seats, attributed to the role of the Ram Rath Yatra, the political chariot rally depicted in the film. The film also raises the uncomfortable truth about the divisiveness of religion, as evidenced by our own recent incidents of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia here in the United States.

Just as Hindus and Muslims peacefully prayed to their respective Gods in close proximity to one another for centuries in India, we have in Lanham major sites of these faiths barely a few minutes drive from one another: a Hindu Temple (Siva Vishnu on Cipriano Road) and an Islamic Masjid (Diyanet Center on Good Luck Road). Most important for us, the film shows how the rhetoric of hate can escalate into mob violence, just as the speeches and rallies on fraud in the 2020 presidential election culminated in the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, which led to the death of five people and serious injuries to 88+ police officers. 

This month’s Reel and Meal is organized by Peace Action Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Peace and Justice Coalition. Tasnuva Khan with Maryland Peace Action-Montgomery County will lead the discussion following the film, with Ruchira Gupta and Sana Qutubuddin as panelists. Ruchira is a journalist and activist, and the founder of Apne Aap, an NGO focused on women’s rights.  Her journalism career has focused on gender rights, armed conflicts in India, caste conflict, and minority issues.  Sana is the National Advocacy Executive for the Indian American Muslim Council, and has written extensively on Hindu nationalism in India and the United States.

As part of the monthly documentary series, Greenbelt’s Co-op Grocery offers a vegan meal in support of Reel and Meal’s mission. This month’s menu features Macro Vegetarian Chickpea Masala and rice with Samosa Dumplings and steamed cauliflower for $7.99. To order, call 301.474.0522 and ask for the deli by 1:00 p.m. on Monday April 19 for pick-up at the deli between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. 

For information on this month’s program, check out Reel and Meal’s Facebook page or contact Vijay Parameshwaran: 650-336-4994.  

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