Md Sohaib Qais |Kolkata
It is quite intriguing that the Police can seize in a minute those whom the Bhartiye Janata Party calls anti-nationals or urban-Naxals. Though few months have passed, yet no FIRs seem to have filed against BJP leaders, whose hate speeches are on record. If the Centre upholds the banner projecting its non-partisan stance, it must not shield and protect the culprits. There are numerous instances which expose the dirty and biased mentality of the BJP leaders. One of the many glaring examples is the BJP’s deplorable action of transferring the judge at a crucial moment. In this way Government very tactfully eliminate a critical stance which, undoubtedly, is but an obstruction of justice. It is no wrong to say that had the BJP-led government been concerned about delivering justice, India would probably have been a good place, both materially and spiritually, to live in.
It is an old saying that ‘fires must be put out at the earliest’. And, it becomes all the more essential when fires are lit to divide the people. It is known to most that several people have been arrested by the police in Bengal for being part of a group that raised a provocative slogan while on its way to an event in Kolkata in which the BJP leader and Union Home Minister , Amit Shah was being felicitated. “Goli maaro (shoot the traitors)”, the slogan perfected by sympathizers of the BJP to poison the air, made its way to Bengal from Delhi. It is but an irony that despite the availability of law on incitement, hate speeches abound in New India.
Undoubtedly, the BJP not only commands a sizeable political footprint in New India but has also managed to demonize dissent. But the consequences of this pursuit have been disastrous, undermining the future of India’s pluralist democracy. Under the pathetic situation the Bengal government’s decision to nab those fanning the flames has been decisive. Law should be invoked to check troublemakers irrespective of their party affiliations. It also demands not only firm administrative action to stop the march of hate, but such wicked campaign is also needed to be crushed by a robust measures reflecting India’s traditions that have always championed brotherhood, peace and accommodation. The role of civil society in healing the wounds being inflicted by politics is not to be undermined and discarded. This has to be fought tooth and nail in a democratic way.
It is undeniable that the right-wing nationalist does not believe in ideas and culture and is rather supposed to believe in action inconsistent with the constructed myth about the nation’s past. Our state is becoming a fascist state and, as such, it has as one of its most important agendas, the task of turning myths into facts. That is why the rewriting of history is so important. New ‘facts’ are incorporated in history textbooks and some existing chapters and events deleted to suit their sinister design. There are new heroes that are brought into the limelight and many old real heroes are discarded as anti-nationals.
What is the role of education then? The goal of general education in schools and universities is to help the students build a strong moral character. Mahatma Gandhi, as a school teacher, would say “education without a strong moral character is dangerous not only for the individuals/students but for the society and the national as a whole”. In many parts of the world, chiefly in India, universities and institutions of higher learning are under attack. Scientific and professional institutions, doing research and promoting generation of new ideas, are silently taken over by academicians and bureaucrats who are close to the ruling regime. It is but an irony that in the name of re-structuring, changes reflecting dirty mentality are brought in; people are humiliated, some even punished, others browbeaten into compliance, the curriculum changed, research agenda altered and governance centralized. One can imagine as to what can be manufactured in the educational workshop where rotten machines are installed and that too are handled by rotten hands/brains.
Let us not forget the adage “fear begets irrationality”. The present scenario illustrates this. It is quite visible how the public anxiety over the fast-spreading spectre of the corona-virus in the country has, on some occasions, bordered on unreasonableness, which in turn, has its manifestations in the form of prejudice, discrimination as well as superstition. To make matters worse, curative campaigns based on unscientific evidence have also been launched. What else can explain the eagerness among some Hindutva groups to pass off cow urine as a cure for the disease? Sometime ago on my mobile I watched a lady complaining ‘I drank cow urine and my condition got deteriorated. I then resolved not to use this again’.
On March 14, 2020 the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabhga organised a ‘Gaumutra party’ to cure the virus with more than 200 figures. On March 17 devotees gathered in large numbers at Shirdi Saibaba Temple in Maharashtra for last ‘aarti’ before temple is shut for corona-virus. On March 21 a sea of devotees gathered for the Arattu festival in Thiruvananthapuram’s Malayinkeezhu Sree Krishna Swami Temple. On March 22 during the Janata Curfew, a large number of Indian gathered in several parts of the country between 5pm and 6pm to applaud healthcare workers, responding to the Prime Minister’s call to beat ‘thaalis, ring bells and clap’. On March 24 the Prime Minister announced a countrywide lockdown, with only essential services exempt and everyone else told to stay at home. Throttling this announcement, on March 25 Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with a crowd of more than 50 people attended religious rituals in Ayodhya. No comment is heard to have made. What a pity!
Was there any single FIR initiated against the aforementioned organised gatherings? I conclude this article quoting what famous writer Nathaniel Hawthorne says “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true”.