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On August 8, the Delhi Police said no permission had been sought by the organisers of a meeting to propagate their “Bharat Jodo Abhiyan” at Jantar Mantar that day, yet many hundreds turned up in answer to the call.
By all accounts, the chief protagonist of the meet was Ashwini Upadhyay, a BJP politician and an advocate who practices in the Supreme Court.
Anti-Muslim slogans reminiscent of the fury and hate of Partition were raised there. An organisation called the Hindu Raksha Dal has averred that the crowd belonged to its members. Pamphlets calling for the genocide of Muslims were freely handed out.
The Hindu Raksha Dal spokesman can be heard to say that if some people have raised such slogans they should be let off, because such things do happen sometimes.
Alas, such large-heartedness is never forthcoming from the right-wing whenever slogans are raised by JNU, Jamia or Aligarh students against Hindutva hate or police violence.
Amol Pritam, a reporter for National Dastak, was surrounded by the crowd and asked to chant “Jai Shri Ram.” He was accused of working for a “jihadi channel.” The brave and principled young man refused to obey them, because he thought it a political slogan and a political demand.
He said that had the crowd beaten him up, he would only have suffered bodily hurt. But had he agreed to their coercive demand, his conscience would forever have been damaged.
As can be seen in the video, a large posse of the Delhi Police were present at the scene, barely a kilometre away from parliament, which was in session at the time.
But, for reasons best known to them (and us), they stood by and took no action on the spot.
We may recall that strict instructions were issued to farmers holding a ‘Kisan Sansad’ at Jantar Mantar earlier this month that their numbers must not exceed 200 – an instruction they have meticulously followed.
But the so-called “Bharat Jodo” crowd (more appropriately captioned ‘Bharat Todo’ or ‘destroy India’) seems to have been left to do its work without interference from the authorities otherwise apprehensive about the threat of COVID-19.
The crowd’s inflammatory calls for genocide against Muslims – barely a year after mob violence took the lives of 53 people in Delhi, most of whom were Muslim – clearly merited swift intervention and the filing of serious charges. In the past few years, Delhi Police have filed charges of sedition against JNU students and others in the city even when they made no call for violence. Yet, when six Hindutva leaders and activists were arrested for the Jantar Mantar event – that too after a public outcry – they were only charged with ‘ordinary’ IPC offences.
Earlier, at a site designated for the building of a Haj House in Dwarka, a large enough crowd had gathered to object to the proposed building. That meeting also had some BJP leaders in attendance.
The crowd there contended that such a building would cause “terrorism”, a “Shaheen Bagh-like episode” in their vicinity and lead to the migration of Hindus.
Needless to say, no such thing has ever happened at any of the many Haj Houses that exist around the country to facilitate the orderly transit of Muslim pilgrims headed for Mecca.
In another incident in a Moradabad neighbourhood, protests were mounted by some Hindu residents against the sale of two properties to Muslim buyers on the same ground of cultural and social ‘purity’.
In 1935, Hitler had changed German law to require all Germans, including the bureaucracy and the armed forces, to swear allegiance not to the constitution but to the Fuhrer personally.
Thus was born the salutation, “Heil Hitler”, the ultimate oath of loyalty to Germany.
Formally, the Indian-Weimar may not yet be quite there, but saying “Jai Shri Ram” now clearly seems the required proof of loyalty to the nation. That this requirement is not restricted only to Muslims is demonstrated by the case of the reporter cited above. This requirement, as the conduct of the crowd on August 8 suggests, is intended to be enforced at the risk of life itself.
It is also apparent that a concerted and barely concealed plan seems afoot to demand that Muslims be kept segregated from the ‘true Indians’, namely, Hindu Indians, although, ideally, sent to Pakistan where we are told they belong. This is the logic behind the Hindutva activism on ‘love jihad’, ‘land jihad’, ‘vendor jihad’, etc.
Ghettoisation serves the purposes of banishing the community from “authentic” national space, reducing their livelihood options to subsistence levels, if not worse.
Incidentally, Mohan Bhagwat, head of the RSS, had recently said that those Hindus who make demands on Muslims of the kind that were made at the “Bharat Jodo” meet are not Hindus.
We wait with bated breath for the sarsanghchalak to speak to the occurrence.
At a dinner hosted recently by Kapil Sibal of the Congress, attended remarkably by all but one opposition party, it was unanimously felt that the right-wing must be defeated in the next general elections in 2024 if the constitutional republic is to be salvaged from final collapse.
Whether or not Sibal had any green signal for the meet from his party ‘high command” may be subject for valid speculation, as indeed the likely future developments within the grand old party, but the perception that was collectively voiced there seems most germane, given what has been outlined above.
If India’s Weimar fails to survive, like its predecessor, the historic culprit will indeed be India’s disparate political opposition, notwithstanding the fact that it may yet again garner a substantial majority of the popular vote.
As to India’s Muslims, paradoxically, the Jews of the world – those whose collective historical memory remains unclouded by Zionist zeal – may best understand their frame of mind. As a corollary, notice that the present Indian government rarely makes reference to human rights in China, especially of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province.
We still believe that the vast majority of Hindus across all caste formations remain secular, law-abiding, and peace-loving, and value the riches of India’s composite culture. But what conundrums history holds for us.