Playing with fire
In its attempts to stamp out dissent and ‘anti-national’ elements, the government has defanged the judiciary and the executive, compromising the integrity of the Constitution
Naxals, in pursuit of their cause, act against Constitutional norms. But, even when people act in conformity with Constitutional provisions to express dissent and opposition, the present government terms them as 'Urban Naxals'. However, on the contrary, by following the methods of fascists and authoritarians, which militate against democratic principles, it appears, the ruling party, its supplicant agencies and its supportive bigots together are acting as 'Government Naxals'. While massive protests in non-BJP ruled states have been peaceful, BJP-ruled states have witnessed suppressive measures and state violence; in UP alone 19 persons were killed. "Our government shot them like dogs," says a minister, Dilip Ghosh, revealing the mindset of the rulers. It has now become a tussle between the so-called 'Urban Naxals' and 'Government Naxals', in which abuse of police machinery is blatant. The professionalism of the police force takes a beating in the process.
Jamia Millia and JNU incidents besmirch the otherwise glorious image of the very resourceful and professional Delhi Police that had handled many terrorist-related cases successfully. Why?
The answer comes from the video of a former IPS officer of Gujarat, Vikas Narain. He says, "Although the complicity between baton-wielding police and power-wielding politicians is known in every regime, the dangerous complicit-model of Amit Shah in Gujarat is the extreme of it. He is only using this model everywhere now." As an IPS officer of Gujarat, he certainly knows more about the vile and ruthlessness of Amit Shah than the rest of the country, be it in the fake encounters, post-Godra riots or others. Now, Delhi Police is under his direct command.
When every mighty institution in the country, including the SC, has been bulldozed into submission, Delhi Police cannot be an exception. Can a gentleman-police-officer like Amulya Patnaik resist or counter his diktats? Senior officers of this force must be under severe stress to helplessly watch their subordinates join the ranks of 'Government Naxalites' to serve the political interests of the ruling party.
A few weeks ago, the government-friendly media circulated the photo of a burning bus to justify the harsh action of Delhi Police at Jamia Millia University. However, videos of uniformed personnel seen emptying cans of petrol on the bus and setting it on fire, in existence as per some media reports, only raise serious doubts about a premeditated action by police. And now, the JNU terror.
Scores of masked men armed with clubs, rods and hammers ran riot on the JNU campus, beating students and teachers, pulling out young women from their hostel rooms, vandalising the place and vehicles. Some were flattening tyres and breaking window panes of ambulances outside the gate and smashing equipment of journalists of independent news outfits. Strangely, the police, that used force against the students in Jamia Millia Islamia as it had an apprehension that there were goons inside, was a silent spectator for the 90-minute vandalism, choosing not to arrest a single masked man or any other. Local security too played the same role in this well-planned and well-orchestrated violence that used technology and muscle power. Even the electric supply was disconnected, showing the extent of the conspiracy.
The country is only witnessing the Orwellian Thought Police in action. This government has been making extensive use of technology for promoting their party's agenda and has been intolerant to any kind of dissent. Pegasus software was used to intrude on WhatsApp to snoop on several intellectuals, journalists and activists, especially in the Bhima-Koregaon case. The arrested dissenters, each with a long record of working with the poor, were even labelled as 'Urban Naxals'. Now, the wards of this government conjointly with the 'Government Naxals' have used WhatsApp groups to create havoc in JNU.
As per several revelations and screenshots, three WhatsApp groups involving ABVP activists and others quickly joined together to create this mayhem to teach the Left-wing students a lesson. It is "unity against left terror". After the injured were taken to the hospital, a cover-up operation began. Names and identities changed on internet addresses to create confusion. Pro-government media has also made it difficult to uncover the truth, by propagating a false narrative of on-campus skirmishing between left and right-wing students. Would the country believe that "Naxals", "tukde-tukde gang", "desh ka gaddar" and such expressions used by the goons are a part of the Left's vocabulary?
It is significant that hours before the rampage, Amit Shah addressed his party workers and explicitly spoke of JNU, calling it the nest of the "tukde-tukde gang" and exhorted the faithful to deal firmly with them. It is thus no surprise that while the goons storm-trooped, police and local security, with their inaction, smoothened their path. Apparently, even JNU's chief proctor is one of the collaborators. Only an impartial judicial enquiry would reveal the truth, including the role of the pro-right VC.
The nation that has been awakened with the triad of CAA-NRC-NPC has been aroused further. Many compared this shaming savagery to those of Nazi days. Uddhav Thackeray likened it to the terror attack of 26/11 in Mumbai. "Horrifying", "heartbreaking" and "barbaric" is how many in the film industry condemned the defiling of the educational institution.
Smriti Irani says, educational institutions should not be politicised, although she is aware that it is the BJP-RSS culture that is invading them to vitiate the academic atmosphere. Some time ago, even a renowned historian like Romila Thapar was asked to furnish her CV for extending her status as Professor Emeritus. At least the distracters should have entered into a healthy debate with her about the work she did, based on the materials available in her days.
Institutions of higher education are meant to foster the culture of free-thinking, free speech, debates and discussions on diverse views, albeit in a peaceful manner. However, the screening of a national award-winning documentary film was forcibly stopped by a right-wing student organisation; teachers are prosecuted for exercising their right to protest; students are slapped with sedition charges; the brainwashing of students by re-writing history and culture has become the agenda. With a fear psychoses possessing the academia and students, research, critical thinking and scientific temper have become the casualties.
JNU has been a haven of study through seminars, sharp debates and a consciously designed academic programme that encourages the linking of all aspects of life with the curricula in a liberal manner. The spirit of constant questioning and JNU's admissions policy that assiduously seeks students from all parts of the country and from the poorest classes, has made this university among the best in the world. But such a culture is an anathema to the majoritarian right-wing, from the time BJP ascended to power, efforts have been made to dismantle it and replace it by inculcating scholarship that is worshipful of the State and of the putative greatness of our ancestors. Is all this and now the attack on students and teachers, not politicisation?
Even Nirmala Sitaraman, a person of great integrity, has no allegiance to the culture of her alma mater. Being an alumnus of JNU, she should have condemned all the happenings in the JNU and joined the march of the alumni. Unfortunately, Sangh Parivar being her family, she remains a mute spectator when semi-literate people with even fake degrees are decimating everything to implant their agenda.
With their thrust on CAA, NRC, NPC, etc., to declare India a Hindu country, where others have to kowtow and with all the power, authority and coercive apparatus of the State in hand, the ruling party has launched upon a counter-revolution to metamorphic what all has been achieved in the form of our Constitution, which was drafted after careful thought that there should not be discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, community, religion, or economic condition. Moreover, in their religious narrowness in this scientific age, the leaders look up to the sages only for glorifying the past but ignore their humaneness and rationality for the betterment of the human society and world at large. At the same time, in their irrationality, they try to expose their ignorance of scientific thought through their ranting that Ganesha's trunk was plastic surgery, man descended from rishis, etc.
Yet, the country trusts the Constitution and also the wisdom, rationalism and humanism of the sages. People have, therefore, risen to oppose the agenda of the government. While dropping all the FIRs against over 3000 protesters registered during the BJP regime in Jharkhand, Hemant Soren had rightly said, "Law is not to terrorise people but it is to protect them." Day after day, the government is being sucked into quicksand.
And, realising it, they have made a weird attempt to get the CAA declared as constitutional by the SC, so that they would have their way. But, fortunately, wisdom prevailed on the SC and they refused to accept its plea. Instead, they showed their concern about the volatility of the situation in the country in view of the spontaneity of the country's outburst of the latent anger. They are apparently wary that already the grim economy and false promises have created a trust deficit. Now, the promotion of CAA-NRC-NPC has only exacerbated it.
For six years, people have become fearful. Media and big politicians lay prostrate. Top industry and business came in support although they have been suffering grievous blows. Even the judiciary has become malleable to run errands. In this atmosphere, it is the youth from universities and cities that have come forward to act as the saviours of individual and civil liberties and in turn our democratic values and institutions, and the Constitution itself. Since the country has risen, lionising police will no longer help the scheming rulers. Dominance only breeds decay.
Dr N Dilip Kumar is a retired IPS officer and a former Member of Public Grievances Commission, Delhi. Views expressed are strictly personal