The crisis in UP’s riot-ravaged Muzaffarnagar just keeps getting worse, even though the violence springing from the communal tensions have now been brought under control. While the Akhilesh government had decided to pull out the army from the bereaved region that’s grappling with mass displacement and mourning the deaths of at least 48 people, the politicians, against whom a UP court had issued arrest warrants, are busy skirting the police and making excuses to not land in custody. Inefficiency of the police department notwithstanding, the blatant display of brute gumption that openly defies court order and carries on with the usual blame game, that too in the state Assembly, is a deplorable but routine sight that has been playing on the newschannels for the past few days. Instead of hanging their heads in shame, these political figures have been showcasing their bravura by openly daring the police to come and arrest them, clearly pointing towards the nexus between the state government, the police department and various political factions, all of which are hand in glove in orchestrating the communal riots that sparked off on 7 September. While the BJP MLA Sangeet Som has been charged with circulating the fake video that fueled the riots in the first place, others such as the BSP members Kadir rana, Jameel Ahmed and Noor Salim, Saeduzzaman of Congress and Bharatendu Singh of the BJP are also facing arrests, given their abatement to trigger the violent conflicts that resulted in many deaths and mass displacements.
While the usual rounds of telegenic soundbytes are being issued from political top brass, such as the BJP president Rajnath Singh, who has demanded the imposition of president’s rule in the beleaguered state citing absolute administrative failure, it is the people of Muzaffarnagar who are bearing the brunt of the week-long riots that have wreaked havoc on this relatively peaceful district. What kind of cynical strategizing goes into creating a full-fledged riot from a local incident of eveteasing that snowballs into a violent and bloody conflict? It is not just the apathy on the part of the government, both at the central and state levels, that had been at the root of the violence that rocked the region, but also the attempts that have been made to capitalise on the issue, either through ‘secular tourism’ or even through passing the buck on who to actually blame for the protracted conflict. Further, it is a shame that despite 66 years of independence, what still gets the public vote is flagrant politics of cultural nationalism at all levels, with religious fanaticism still playing a crucial and dirty role in fomenting violent tensions across the country. Clearly, the faultlines that can easily crack at the slightest pretext happen to be along the core issues of religion and caste, even though enormous economic worries are staring in the face of the nation. It is a pity that cynical playing off religious factions, before the assembly elections in other states and national elections of 2014, has become the only method of galvanising voter passions, and a lethal combination of paying lip service to the politics of surface secularism denuded of actual content, reignited agenda of political Hindutva, raking up communal sentiments and marrying them all to a deathly vision of non-inclusive GDP-oriented growth, is the path that our political top brass has chosen to reach or retain the centre of power.