Building political capital on hate propaganda

India must pose a question to itself: why in the past 60 years, none of those responsible for communal carnage have been given any sentences by the courts. In fact, all those who are responsible for such disturbances and hatred are reaping rich harvest politically, asks Vidya Bhushan Rawat

It is a reminder bell that rings every year though it has not changed us to the core. The horrific crimes against humanity perpetrated by political goons in the dark night of 31st October  till a couple of days of November 1984 after the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was declared officially ‘dead’ and which remain unpunished till date is not just a matter of shame but absolute failure of our democracy.

A truly democratic system would have envisaged ways and means to tackle such a situation in future but instead people became ‘football’ in the political games of those who have least concern about the loss of human lives and sentiments.

Punjab was bleeding when India got partitioned in 1947 and Sikh community felt betrayed as many of their issues remained unsettled politically. Sikh nationalism had to be merged into pan-Indian Nationalism dictated and dominated by the brahminical Hindus. In the din of pan-Indian nationalism, we refused to understand Punjab’s hurt psyche and wanted to resolve it through military solution in the very similar way we are doing in Kashmir. We want referendum on every conflict but not in those regions but in the rest of the country. People of the state had lost faith in the administration and politicians were reaping rich harvest on ‘action’ against ‘terrorism’ in the rest of the country. So, you take ‘strong’ ‘action’ against ‘terrorists’ and rest assured, you will get a good crop of votes elsewhere. The farcical first-past-the-post electoral system that we inherited from the British is actually now the best weapon for our political class to use against minorities ‘legitimately’.

Political killing cannot help restore peace and resolve a crisis but we saw how everybody used Indira Gandhi’s killing as a political weapon for their own interest. The Congress Party used her killing as killing of ‘Bharat Mata’ and Rajiv was using all the good words that emerged from ‘Hindutva’ dictionary that time. Maa, Ganga Maa and everything is same which is being used by Narendra Modi today.

At times Indians’ sentiments very openly and unambiguously display brahminical Hindu sentiments. The Hindutva elements inside Congress used it and hence the mandate that Rajiv got in 1984 was a thoroughly communal mandate based on hate propaganda. It does not matter whether BJP had zero or two-member strength in the Parliament at that time as the ideology preached by Hindutva had won the day. So, to say that Hindutva politics came just when BJP assumed power is absolutely wrong and does not take into account the brahminical games of the Congress Party. India’s mainstream political parties have seen a systematic Hindutvaisation process which earlier was the agenda of Sangh Parivar. Sangh wanted to Hinduise the polity and once that was done political parties were unable to challenge the process ideologically. It seems Hindutva has become the main theme and parties want to stick to it and not to question it.

We did not learn from such a crime against humanity when state became a party to it and abdicated its responsibility to protect its citizens irrespective of their caste, religion, region as promised in our Constitution. It is not that Congress only was using Hindutva for its own purposes. Some of the Sikh groups also praised the killers and some of them celebrated Indira Gandhi’s killing too. Even today there are many such groups in UK and Canada which keep celebrating her death.

These unfortunate things come handy for hate-mongerers as a tiny incident become a powerful weapon of propaganda in their hands. It is according to our suitability to align with whoever can fetch us votes. Hence for Modi it is Godhra karsevak victims, for Congress it is Indira’s martyrdom, for Akalis it is the murderers of Indira Gandhi and this reflects the bankruptcy of our political parties and their thought process where they assume people to be absolute fools.

Rumours have always been used to develop hatred towards minorities and the marginalized to ensure a consolidation of the so-called ‘majority’ votes for political purposes. So 1984 and 2002 may look different to some people but they are complimentary to each other. The mask of dominance has changed but it remains quintessentially Hindu hatred towards Sikhs in Delhi and Muslims in Gujarat. Leaders might emerge from different political parties, one so-called “secular” and the other so-called “communal” but the leadership and ideology of these parties remain consolidated in the hands of caste Hindus.  So the consolidation of upper caste Hindus towards Hindutva philosophy is not a sudden phenomenon as it is a political weapon for power and minorities of different variety will automatically become victim of this maneuvering for power.

People say that in 1984 it was the Congress leaders who committed the crime against humanity. Yes, Congress found that secular mask would not help them much in elections and hence it treaded dangerously towards Hindutva and the fact is that all events that led to the army operation at the Harminder Saheb needed to be probed and analysed carefully.

Right from Kashmir to Punjab, Indira Gandhi was using the Hindu card and Rajiv did the same after her death. You need to create a villain for the greater “majority” consolidation and martial castes become the real tool to act on the ground. This is the real functioning of the status quoists that they use the victims to victimize others. In the cases of riots everywhere urbanized Dalits and OBCs are used even when the leaders of these groups may hail from an upper caste Hindu background as the leader has to fight elections too.

If you are not convinced, I can put a small question. May be “experts” can analyse the trend of Trilokpuri incident of last week and early this month and compare it with what happened in the night of October 31st and during the first week of November 1984. The victims in 1984 were Sikhs and this time they are Muslims and the perpetrators were political goons of Congress at that time and this time it is the Hindutva party, and I can bet the “actors” may be the same professionals who have become ‘nationalists’ now with a every different thought and look.

It is, therefore, essential to see India’s political trends not in terms of Congress or BJP but in terms of majoritarianism at the cost of minorities. If this trend is not arrested we will see more blood bath. India’s electoral system has actually converted minorities into a sandwich between different authoritarian brahminical parties and unless our electoral system is changed completely, we will see more communal slaughter to anoint messiahs foisted on us.

The failure of the victim getting justice has given a bigger propaganda material to those whose ideology was responsible for the crisis that we face in India today. Only days ago the Government of India decided to offer another compensation of five lakh rupees to the families of the people killed in the 1984 ‘communal violence’. Shamelessly, the entire issue has been communalized with a clear agenda of going to polls in Punjab exclusively in the coming years. One must ask as to whether people who have been slaughtered in Gujarat in 2002 and who happened to be Muslims will also get any compensation on account of this? Year after year, we see killings of Dalits by the caste Hindus and yet not a single case has been taken to conclusion. India must pose a question to itself: why in the past 60 years, none of those responsible for communal carnage have been given any sentences by the courts. In fact, all those who are responsible for such disturbances and hatred are reaping rich harvest politically. Our judiciary has to introspect as to why there is such antipathy on part of our state and system which claim to be ‘one of the best’. Riots after riots take place and yet there is no lesson learnt. Tragedies are occurring on larger scales and yet the state remains mute. If we follow the riot cases diligently, we find that the ‘professionals’ are caught but the real ‘actors’ roam free and enjoy political protection and power. When will we see the day when politicians who reap this ‘rich harvest of hatred’ get sentenced by our courts. Unless that is done, we will continue to see the crop of hatred which will empower a few of our politicians but definitely weaken the whole idea of India. In 1984, we had still good people around in the media who raised the issue and have been fighting for the rights of the people who were slaughtered. We cannot imagine that now as the time has changed and media has been converted into the propaganda tool of the ruling party.

That over 10,000 people were killed all over the country and in the most brutal manner and yet we as a nation could not provide a healing touch to them is a shame. It is double shame when people who themselves butcher another minority and discriminate against minorities create a deliberate and mischievous misunderstanding of an entire thing which is nothing but majoritarianism and its brutal repercussion on minorities. It is the power of these dominant and powerful majoritarian political classes which has resulted in the massacres which took place after independence. They will blame each other but the fact is that they all perpetuated it. Unambiguously, it is the idea of majority dominance in a democracy where minorities have to just succumb and follow the diktats of the majority. We are witnessing it at every level today.

India does not need to choose between an Iron man and Iron woman. The Iron man was a Congressman and a Gandhian though with a feudal mind and the iron woman too displayed similar anti-democratic tendencies.

We need to go beyond the rhetoric of individuals and come back to work according to the spirit of our constitution and international laws. Remembering leaders is good but using them for political purposes must stop. We do not need messiahs as they have done enough damage to us making us ‘devotees’ without ever thinking and respecting the rights of others. There is no doubt that Congress leadership had gone overboard in promoting their Nehru Gandhi family but things were never as awkward and explicit as they are today. With pettiness being visible at the highest level, Indians continue to show how immature as a democracy they are and how we live in bitterness giving full freedom to those who continue to enjoy great harvest of hatred. Whoever be at the helm of affairs in Delhi or state, it is the people who will have to pay the price. A country is known from the society it has and event managements will not ensure the future of our children, women and men. The attitude to look down upon the minorities in suspicion and giving legitimacy to all forms of accusations and violence against them must stop at all level.

The electoral system which benefitted Congress is now helping the BJP but the victims remain the same. The propaganda is mostly based on individual incidents where persons from minority or marginalized communities are involved. Their ‘action’ results in negative portrayal of their entire community and ‘need’ strong ‘reaction’. We have seen such ‘reactions’. Majority symbols too are being supplied for children, young and adults in large quantity these days. They mean nothing but everything and have taken a licence to intimidate others who do not look like ‘us’. Every morning we are hearing these heavily loaded slogans of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ not out of our own self but to provoke ‘others’ who may not be having the same idea about this concept.

Gandhi was killed and his killing has been justified so were the killings of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv. Godhra was justified and so was the massacre of Delhi in 1984 and Gujarat in 2002. Hundreds of other riots and pogroms have taken place in India and our notoriety is in justifying them.

Our political system has not yet evolved and may be political parties do not want that to evolve fully to convert us into a complete democracy where each one of us expresses our opinion without any fear and each of the communities living in India has enough participation in our power structure. We will not have people crying for justice when each one of us will feel their pain. Why should the victims of of 1984 and 2002 be referred to with particular political slants? They were Indians and therefore India needs to respond to this. Both the massacres are blot to our face and reflect draconian majority tendencies which is afraid of minority assertion or dissent.

Democracies mature from accidents of history so that such things do not happen again by providing level playing fields and ensuring thorough and speedy justice without any political manipulation.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 November 2014 on page no. 11

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