Nationalist India watches live as Muslim houses and businesses are demolished
After the Jahangirpuri riots in Delhi, things have moved quite rapidly. Five rioters have been charged under the draconian National Security Act and the local administration has moved in to use the latest arsenal in its sling, the bulldozers to demolish supposedly illegal constructions, mainly targetting Muslim homes and parts of the mosque that were at the heart of the violence.
And this happened despite the Supreme Court’s order, staying the demolition which continued well over two hours. It only stopped when Brinda Karat, one of the few brave political leaders, herself reached the site carrying a copy of the order and stood in front of the rampaging bulldozers. This vengeful operation was carried out in full view of television cameras. It was a mini-Iraq war being telecast live to the homes of millions of supposedly gleeful nationalist viewers. Khargone in Madhya Pradesh last week, Delhi today.
Television, judiciary, religious mahanths (again sportingly giving public threats over mikes and in front of cameras to rape Muslim women or calling for genocide of Muslims), are made viral through instant WhatsApp forwards, giving them their five minutes of glory, all in the name of the juggernaut of Hindu Rashtra which is now in its full bloom.
Those who thought that the spate will slow down, if not stop, after the elections were mistaken. The logic of power for power’s sake knows no bounds, whether they are state elections or national elections two years down the line or even a local municipal or panchayat election. And there are plenty of elections to feed this hunger. Later, this year Gujarat, (where it all began) is going to face the elections. In Delhi, the lust for power made the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announce the restructuring of the entire local tier of governance, lest they lose control over it. That’s crucial also because, there is a constant need to solidify the Hindu vote, as one fossilised rock that can’t be changed every five years.
When power is sought for power’s sake, there is no room for anything else. Other issues such as petroleum prices or unemployment don’t matter any longer. What matters is the Trotskyan idea of permanent revolution, even though being used ironically for very opposite ends of a counter-revolution. The idea is simply this: never let people rest, think or take a break. Keep them in a permanent state of movement, where they are not merely a passive witness to history, but have become active agents of (regressive) change. The counter-revolution tells you: ask not what the nation can do for you, ask what you can do for your nation. The least you can do, it implies, is to applaud those marauding bulldozers, be part of the mob in front of every mosque shielded by police, flashing guns and trishuls, be a part of the grand march of history through umpteen Shobha yatras and Hanuman yatras. The recent violence in eight states during the last week’s Ramnavmi, or the nationwide juggernaut against hijab and Ramazan are just a few elements of this ongoing revolution.
The agents of change want more. They won’t stop. That’s the risk this regime is taking, fairly confident that they can calibrate this rampaging mob of unemployed, semi-employed, semi-educated youth (which some years ago was hailed as demographic dividend by the planners). Just three instances of history and one from mythology should be instructive. Indira Gandhi propped up a guy called Bhindrawale to browbeat Akalis. While he served the purpose, he also became too big for his shoes, got cornered on the orders of the government eventually, taking down Indira with him. Rajiv Gandhi is said to have once publicly humiliated Prabhakaran in one of the meetings (at a time when everyone thought the LTTE was propped up by the Indian government). We know what happened to Rajiv Gandhi. The last is even more instructive at a personal level. LK Advani is said to have publicly lamented the fall of Babri Masjid, saying he could not control his frontal organisations. One doesn’t know the level of sincerity behind this statement. One surely knows the way history ended up treating him, not least by those whom he propped up and mentored.
So, what’s the lesson here? Just one more story, this time from the Hindu mythology, the ruling party will do well to take lesson from. The story of the demon Bhasmasur, who, having got the boon of burning anyone he could touch, ended up touching his own head. As a student of history, I see a great hope in this apocryphal story.
The writer has remained associated with social activism for many years and is currently an independent researcher and writer