Is India so weak that it is threatened by a handful of twenty-somethings shouting bharat ki barbaadi at a dhaba in one corner of a very large campus?
Not at all, you’d think. If shouting slogans against India worked, Kashmir, Punjab, Nagaland and Dantewada would have broken away long ago. Except that, with a few slogans being made into such a big issue, the bhakts and their government have given those slogans the air of oxygen.
From 9 February onwards, the government and its supporters have been busy proving them right, bringing India global infamy as a place where intolerance and vigilantism are rising.
For ages, India has dealt with protests of all kinds by ignoring them. When an unpopular UPA-2 hanged Afzal Guru, at a politically expedient time, there were many protests and slogans like the one in JNU on 9 February were raised in many parts of the country. The UPA-2 government just looked the other way, denying them the attention they sought.
The dissenting left complains about lack of freedom and democracy. From 9 February onwards, the government and its supporters have been busy proving them right, bringing India global infamy as a place where intolerance and vigilantism are rising.
If you think the students who raised slogans calling for India’s destruction and disintegration must be brought to book, then apply the law of the land to them. Let the courts decide. Instead, what the government and its supporters are doing with impunity is taking the law in their own hands, as the Delhi police looks on.
JNU's student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar (C) is escorted by police into Patiala Court for a hearing in New Delhi
The Delhi Police arrested a person who didn’t shout any of those slogans calling for bharat ki barbadi, the destruction of India, or its disintegration. By all accounts, and video evidence, these slogans were indeed raised. They were, many claim, raised by former members of the Democratic Students Union, the DSU, an extreme left students’ association in JNU, one with the least traction amongst the JNU community.
If India can have extremist groups who celebrate Gandhi’s killer and celebrate Republic Day as black day, it should also allow groups that speak against the Indian state. That is the hallmark of a democracy: views that we don’t like also must have place in a democracy. The Hindu Mahasabha and the DSU both have the right to free speech, and if we don’t agree with that, then there are the courts to deal with them.
The government, the Delhi Police, the ABVP, the BJP MLA OP Sharma, the lawyers who think it’s their duty to beat up journalists and activists – all are actually aiding Bharat ki barbadi. They stand for an India where rule of law is suspended even in the national capital. Those who say injustice was done to Afzal Guru are actually being told that India is a land of vigilantism, not justice.
ABVP students protest against the organisers of the event on Afzal Guru
The self-appointed guardians of Bharat Mata are insulting India’s Constitution and its promise of Constitutional freedoms. They are making it apparent that a few slogans in an obscure corner of JNU are just the excuse. The real agenda is maaro saalo ko, beat them up. With the convenient cover of those few slogans, the larger agenda of shutting down left-liberal spaces with force is being pursued. Shut down JNU, they say. And why? Only because it is a bastion of the left.
Denigrating the Supreme Court is now nationalism.
Everybody is being tarred with the same brush: you are either a nationalist or a traitor. The real traitors, however, are those who randomly beat up people despite Supreme Court’s intervention, and while they do so, they ask the victims: where is your Supreme Court now?
Denigrating the Supreme Court is now nationalism. The Modi government, which recently initiated Constitution Day celebrations, is letting this happen under its own watch.
One JNU student with a Muslim name is linked to Jaish-e-Mohammed and then the allegation is denied. The Delhi Police is patted on the back for letting the vigilantes have a free run, again and again, while the media is used to putting out stories where IB sources contradict Delhi Police claims. A fake tweet in the name of Hafiz Saeed is used by the government to link JNU with jihadis in Pakistan. When the government’s silliness is exposed, they say it wasn’t the tweet but ‘agency inputs’. How dumb does the government think we are? Then, Hafiz Saeed, the real thing, puts out a video laughing at India. For having given jihadis a chance to mock India, who is guilty? It is the government and the ever-outraged bhakts who are making India a laughing stock, making us look like a banana republic.
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