A close friend who has just retired from a highly placed job in the Reserve Bank of India has been so perturbed with the periodic acts of lynching of the people in public places of late that he did not hesitate a bit to join the protest march in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar the other day under the banner of “Not in My Name” (since then protestors have used the same banner in other parts of the country and some select cities of the world like London and Paris). But my friend returned a highly disappointed man because the persons who led the protest were highly selective in focussing on the Muslims who had been lynched by the self-appointed gau rakshaks; they did not utter a single word in condemning a Police officer’s killing (a proud Muslim) who was lynched in front of a mosque in Srinagar last month.
Lynching of any kind and of any person deserves strongest condemnation and harshest possible punishment under the laws of the country, something that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already communicated to the “beasts” amongst us effectively. But then, as a social phenomenon, and to our great shame, lynching has not exactly been eradicated. We have umpteen stories of women in villages being lynched for being witches. Many a time people have taken law into their hands by lynching publicly anti-social elements and hardened criminals (we have seen this happening in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh). One is reminded here of December 1994, when a young district magistrate of Gopalganj in Bihar, G Krishnaiah, was stoned to death by an unruly mob. There have been many sordid tales of honour-killings in Haryana and Rajasthan. And there have been ghastly incidents of Maoists in central India and the Islamic fundamentalists in Kashmir brutally killing their opponents, both civilian and security personnel.
It is indeed shocking that the government, whether it is led by Narendra Modi or Manmohan Singh or anyone else, has not been able to arrest the trend of lynching. Statistics suggest that there were at least 14 incidents in 2013, eight incidents in 2012, and seven incidents in 2011. And all these happened under the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh. According to another survey, more than 630 people between 1982 and 1984 were lynched for political differences in West Bengal by the goons of the then ruling Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPM). I do not have the exact data of lynching under the three years’ rule of Modi to compare against the aforesaid figures under different regimes; the available data is misleading in the sense that all of them point out the number of communal attacks under Modi, not precisely the deaths due to lynching.
Be that as it may, one should not hesitate to admit the shame or sin of even a single lynching incident in the country. And this shame is to all the Indians, and we all are sinful for any lynching of any type, be it for saving cows or eliminating criminals or fighting the political opponents or anything else. And what we need to do now is to try and work collectively as Indians not to commit this sin.
But this is something that the leaders of the “Not in my Name” protests are not interested in. They are not sad for lynching as such; for them what is important is that the lynching incidents are fresh weapons to fight against Narendra Modi. These leaders are essentially parts of a Modi-hatao brigade, shedding crocodile tears for those lynched. The movement is a vicious plot to discredit the Modi government. It is in continuation of the same trend that one has been witnessing since 2014 – the trend based on the false news on Church- attacks, the motivated intolerance debate, return of awards tamasha.
Who are the names behind “Not in my Name”? The person who started it is one Seba Dewan, a documentary film maker for whom India is moving towards fascism where Muslims, Dalits and Women have no place. A former student of Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College, this lady is a known propagator of “Hinduism is full of evils”; in fact in an interview she had once boasted that one of her proudest moments was to outwit the late VHP leader Ashok Singhal. After Seba, another Hindu-basher and so-called human rights-activist documentary-maker Anand Patwardhan, staged it in Mumbai. Predictably, most of those supporting the protest movement are the habitual Modi-bashers.
These leaders are closely interlinked with award-wapasi gang of Uday Prakash, K. Sachidanandan and, Ashok Vajpeyi (to just name a few). They hold the same political views (so-called liberal and left) that are not in tune with the views of the present Modi government. Almost all of them had got awards and encouragements because of their proximity and familiarity with the previous central governments. It may be noted that the Congress, in its long decades of power, had cultivated a particular breed of ‘intellectual’ of the leftist, liberal and secular category assiduously. It had given them Rajya Sabha tickets, Padma awards and other such prizes, including jobs in government and myriad cultural and social organisations that come with low salaries but high perks like houses in Delhi. Obviously these “sarkari intellectuals” are uncomfortable and worried that Narendra Modi cannot be seduced by them as was the case before. Their agony is that they will no longer get the political patronage. So it is better that “we quit to get the martyr status and retain some public sympathy”. And this is what they are exactly doing, and in the process demonising Modi.
What is worse is that almost all of them are highly intolerants themselves, even though they extol the virtues of tolerance. Though reams of newsprints and incalculable airtime have been uitilised in demonising unhindered the Modi government for its various acts of commission and omission on the issue of “intolerance”, I really find it strange that India under Modi is still being portrayed as fascist by the overwhelmingly dominant section of the Indian intelligentsia and almost all the non-BJP parties. But how “tolerant” are these people themselves of things they do not want to see and hear? And how “consistent” are they on the very trends they proclaim to be dangerous or suicidal to a pluralistic and democratic India? The answers will be really embarrassing for them.
We have central universities like JNU and Jamia Malia where these elements are so over-dominant that they force the authorities to withdraw the invitation to Narendra Modi for its annual convocations. Imagine, here, how the Prime Minister of the country is not allowed to go to a university funded by his government. But there is simply not a murmur of disapproval by our protagonists of the movement against intolerance! When they criticise, it is freedom of speech; but when they are criticised it becomes intolerance. When they question the Hindutva, it become secular; but when some question some Islamic practices, they become communal. Such are their double-standards!
Unfortunately for Modi, India’s perception-makers are overwhelmingly dominated by academicians, artists, journalists and contributors who are moulded in what is said to be the Nehruvian framework or establishment– “Left/Liberal/Secular”. No wonder why they are deliberately building up perceptions that nothing is happening in India and that the country is literally burning along ethnic and religious fault-lines. And it has made it obvious that there can never be good news in India until and unless Modi and the BJP are thrown into the Indian Ocean.
All this is not to suggest that one should remain silent on the incidents of communal lynching and targeted killing. But to magnify them and spread the communal poison all over the country through so-called dissent and project to the outside world that India is burning under Modi is crass hypocrisy and unethical. Oppose Modi and his policies by all means, but please do not make Modi-bashing a “fashionable phenomenon”.
By Prakash Nanda