Delhi Violence: Genesis of Carnage

Ram Puniyani

They say ‘history repeats itself first as a tragedy and then as a farce’. In case of India, communal violence not only keeps repeating itself, the pattern of the tragedy keeps changing every next time. Some features of the violence are constant, but they are under the wraps mostly. The same can be said about the Delhi violence (February 2020). The interpretations, the causative factors are very discernible, but those who are generally the perpetrators have a knack of shifting the blame on the victim community or those who stand for the victims.

As the carnage began presumably in the aftermath of statement of Kapil Mishra of BJP, which was given in front of a top police official, in which he threatened to get the roads emptied. The roots of violence were sown earlier. The interpretations given by the Hindu Nationalist camp is that the riot is due to the changing demographic profile of the area with Muslims increasing in number in those areas, and coming up of Shaheen Bagh which was presented was like ‘Mini Pakistan’. As per them the policies of BJP in matters of triple talaq, Article 370 and CAA, NPR, NRC has unnerved the ‘radical’ elements and so this violence.

As such before coming to the observations of the activists and scholars of communal violence in India, we can in brief say that violence, in which nearly 46 people have died, include one from police and another from intelligence. Majority victims are Muslims. The violence started right under the nose of the police and the ruling party. From the videos and other eye accounts, police not only looked the other way around, at places it assisted those attacking the innocent victims and burning and looting selective shops. Home minister, Amit Shah, was nowhere on the scene. For first three days the rioters had free run. After the paramilitary force was brought in; the violence simmered and slowly reduced in intensity. The state AAP Government, which in a way is the byproduct of RSS supported Anna Hazare movement, was busy reading Hanuman Chalisa and praying at Rajghat with eyes closed to the mayhem going in parts of Delhi.

Communal violence is the sore point of Indian society. It did begin during colonial period due to British policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. At root cause was the communal view of looking at history and pro active British acts to sow the seeds of Hindu-Muslim divide At other level the administrative and police the British were fairly neutral. On one hand was the national movement, uniting the people and creating and strengthening the fraternal feeling among all Indians. On the other were Muslim Communalists (Muslim League) and Hindu Communalists (Hindu Mahasabha, RSS) who assisted the British goal of ‘divide and rule’ promoting hatred between the communities. After partition the first major change was the change in attitude of police and administration which started tilting against Muslims. Major studies by Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Paul Brass and Omar Khalidi demonstrated that anti Muslim bias is discernible in during and after the riots.

Now the partisan role of police has been visible all through. Sri Krishna Commission report brought forth this fact; as did the research of the Ex DIG of UP police Dr. V.N.Rai. Dr. Rai’s studies also concluded that no communal violence can go on beyond 24 hours unless state administration is complicit in the carnage. In one of the violence, investigation of which was done by concerned Citizen’s team (Dhule, 2013) this author observed that police itself went on to undertake the rampage against Muslims and Muslim properties.

General observation about riots is that violence sounds to be spontaneous, as the Home Minister is pointing out, but as such it is well planned act. Again the violence is orchestrated in such a way that it seems Muslims have begun the riots. Who casts the First stone? To this scholars point out that the carnage is so organized that the encircled community is forced to throw the first stone. At places the pretext is made that ‘they’ (minorities) have thrown the first stone.

The pretexts against minorities are propagated, in Gujarat violence Godhra train burning, in Kandhamal the murder of Swami Laxamannand and now Shaheen bagh! The Hindu Muslim violence began as riots. But it is no more a riot, two sides are not involved. It is plain and simple anti Minority violence, in which some from the majority are also the victims.

This violence is possible as the ‘Hate against this minority’ is now more or less structural. The deeper Hate against Muslims and partly against Christians; has been cultivated since long and Hindu nationalist politics, right from its Shakhas to the social media have been put to use for spreading Hatred. The prevalent deeper hate has been supplanted this time by multiple utterances from BJP leaders, Modi (Can be recognized by clothes), Shah (press EVM machine button so hard that current is felt in Shaheen Bagh), Anurag Thakur (Goli (bullet) Maro) Yogi Aditya Nath (If Boli (Words)Do not work Goli will) and Parvesh Varma (They will be out to rape).

The incidental observation of the whole tragedy is the coming to surface of true colors of AAP, which not only kept mum as the carnage was peaking but also went on to praise the role of police in the whole episode. With Delhi carnage “Goli Maro” seems to be becoming the central slogan of Hindu nationalists. Delhi’s this violence has been the first one in which those getting killed are more due to bullets than by swords or knifes! Leader’s slogans do not go in vain! Courts the protectors of our Constitution seem to be of little help as if one of them like Murlidhar Rao gives the verdict to file against hate mongers, he is immediately transferred.

And lastly let’s recall the academic study of Yale University. It concludes; BJP gains in electoral strength after every riot’. In India the grip of communalism is increasing frighteningly. Efforts are needed to combat Hate and Hate mongers.


Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

Like most of the political phenomenon, even the practice of Nationalism is not a static one. It changes with the changing political equations of the political forces and assumes the expressions which are very diverse. As such the phenomenon of Nationalism has a long journey and various state policies in particular have used it for purposes which relate more to the power of the state ‘vis a vis’ its people, power of the state ‘vis a vis’ the neighboring countries among others.

In India there has been a certain change in the practices of the state which have transformed the meaning of Nationalism during last few years. Particularly with BJP, the Hindu Nationalist outfit gaining simple majority, it has unfolded the policies where one can discern the drastic change in the meaning and application of Nationalism in regard to its citizens, particularly those belonging to minority community, with regard to those who are liberal, and with those who stand with the concept of Human rights.

Our former Prime Minister of Dr. Manmohan Singh hit the nail on the head when he said that “Nationalism and the "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" slogan are being misused to construct a "militant and purely emotional" idea of India that excludes millions of residents and citizens. Former Prime Minister recently stated this in an apparent attack on the BJP.” The occasion was the release of a book, ‘Who is Bharat Mata’, edited by Purushottam Agarwal and Radhakrishna. This is a compilation of significant extracts from writings of Nehru, and important assessments of and contributions of Nehru by prominent personalities.

Dr. Singh went on to add "With an inimitable style…Nehru laid the foundation of the universities, academies and cultural institutions of Modern India. But for Nehru's leadership, independent India would not have become what it is today," This statement of Dr. Singh has great importance in contemporary times, as Nehru is being denigrated by Hindu nationalists for all the problems which India is facing today and attempts are on to undermine his role and glorifying Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. This is also significant as it gives us the glimpses of what Nationalism meant for Nehru.

As Singh’s statement captures the present nationalism being practiced by BJP and company, the Hindu nationalists, immediately shot back saying that Dr. Singh is supporting the anti India activities at JNU and Jamia and his party is supporting the anti India nationalists. They asked whether Singh likes the nationalism of the likes of Shashi Tharoor or Manishankar Ayer who are provoking the Shaheen Bagh protest rather than making the protestors quiet. Whether he likes the anti national protests which go on at JNU or Jamia? As per them there is no Nationalism in Congress. One more example being cited is the private visit of Shatrughan Sinha who talked to Pakistani President during his visit there recently!

Most of the arguments being used to oppose Dr. Singh are very superficial. What is being referred to; is not opposition to Indian nationalism and its central values which were the core of anti colonial struggles. While ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ may not be acceptable to a section of population, even the book he was releasing has the title ‘Who is Bharat Mata’. What is being stated by Singh is the twist which slogan ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ has been used by Hindu nationalists to frighten the religious minorities.

Indian nation came into being on the values, which later were the foundation of Indian Constitution. Indian Constitution carefully picked up the terminology which was away from the concepts of Hindu or Muslim nationalism. That’s how the country came to be called as ‘India that is Bharat’. The freedom of expression which was the hallmark of freedom movement and it was given a pride of place in our Constitution. It respected the diversity and formulated rules where the nation was not based on particular culture, as Hindu nationalists will like us to believe, but cultural diversity was centrally recognized in the Constitution. In addition promoting good relations with neighbors and other countries of the World was also part of our principles.

JNU, Jamia and AMU are being demonized as most institutions so far regard the freedom of expression as a core part of Indian democracy. These institutions have been thriving on discussions and debates which have base in liberalism. Deliberately some slogans have been constructed to defame these institutions. While Constitution mandates good relations with neighbors, creation of ‘Anti Pakistan hysteria’ is the prime motive of many a channels and sections of other media, which are servile to the ideology of ruling Government. They also violate most of the norms of ethical journalism, where the criticism of the ruling party is an important factor to keep the ruling dispensation in toes.

A stifling atmosphere has been created during last six years. In this the Prime Minster can take a detour, land in Pakistan to have a cup of tea with Pakistan PM, but a Congress leader talking to Pakistani President is a sign of being anti National. Students taking out a march while reading the preamble of Indian Constitution are labeled as anti-national; and are stopped while those openly wielding guns near Jamia or Shaheen Bagh roam freely.

Nationalism should promote amity and love of the people; it should pave the way for growth and development. Currently the nationalism which is dominant and stalking the streets has weakened the very fraternity, which is one of the pillars of our democracy. Nehru did explain that Bharat Mata is not just our mountains, rivers and land but primarily the people who inhabit the land. Which nationalism to follow was settled during the freedom movement when Muslim nationalism and Hindu nationalism were rejected by the majority of people of India in favor of the Nationalism of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Maulana Azad, where minorities are equal citizens, deserving affirmative action. In today’s scenario the Hindu nationalists cannot accept any criticism of their policies. 


Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED