18/02/2016 2:49 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

The JNU Row Just Revised The Definitions Of 'Lawyer', 'Police', 'Governance' And More

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 16: JNU students protest march against Central Government at JNU campus, demand the release of Kanhaiya Kumar who was arrested on sedition charge in connection with an event organised on the campus against the hanging of Afzal Guru, on February 16, 2016 in New Delhi, India. JNU has been on the boil over the arrest of its student's Union President Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges after some students organised a meet to mark the anniversaries of executions of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. (Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

“Media has an unhindered right to report. Attack on mediapersons is highly improper and condemnable.” Thus tweeteth Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

That’s good to know. On the other hand, think about the kind of India we live in where the Finance Minister has to tweet out something like this, something that should be utterly self-evident.

But a tweet in time saves nothing. It’s just a gambit in a good-cop bad-cop game that everyone can see through by now.

As we saw at Patiala House yesterday, the men in black were back on rampage, pummeling reporters, raining blows on JNU student union president Kanhaiya Kumar and then boasting about it. “We are so proud of you. This calls for a celebration,” says lawyer Surendra Tyagi to those who took part in the mayhem.

“People are calling us goondas while the anti-nationals are being hailed as heroes. We will continue to fight for our motherland. If anyone casts aspersions on our Mother India, we will gouge their eyes out, “ says lawyer Vikram Chauhan who led the attacks on Monday and then again on Tuesday.

When the Supreme Court’s own team went to assess the situation, they were greeted by lawyers shouting “ye saare dalle hain, aaj sab ko theek kar denge.” (They are all pimps, we will fix all of them today.) Who says justice is delayed in India? It droppeth as the not-so-gentle rain from heaven upon the hapless beneath in Patiala courthouse.

We now have a new definition of lawyer in the Indian English Dictionary, forged right inside a court complex.

Police throng the court premises as Kanhaiya Kumar is brought in.

Lawyer (n): One who takes the law into his own hands.

In most civilized countries a politician caught on tape pummeling an unarmed person would find his career in deep peril. He would disappear from sight while others in his party would try to do damage control. O P Sharma however is happy to do the rounds of television studios boasting about beating up a CPI leader in Patiala House. Sharma claims he is the victim, not the bully, that his reaction was just a “natural reaction” to someone striking him physically and the motherland verbally. And then he adds for good measure “It is not wrong if somebody shouting such slogans is beaten up or even done to death.”

O P Sharma, who calls Jaitley “Boss”, is regarded as Jaitley’s “shadow” but evidently not even the shadow of Jaitley’s tweet falls on him. That makes one thing clear. What happened in the courthouse with O P Sharma is not overreaction. This is planned combustion. Nobody is squirming here, not Sharma, not his bosses.

The BJP has decided that the way ahead is to wrap itself in the colours of the national flag and brazen it out. BJP spokesperson Srikant Sharma said, “There is anger across the country over the slogans at the JNU meeting that called for the break up of India. But the party has always taken the position that it does not support violence by anyone."

Srikant Sharma did not say what that meant for its own lawmaker caught on tape delivering mob justice. He preferred to leave that to the court because the incident took place in the court. Meanwhile BJP MLA from Rajasthan Kailash Choudhary has told Zee News that Rahul Gandhi is a traitor who should be hanged or shot for joining the protests against the police crackdown in JNU. Again we see the good-cop, bad-cop game in full force with the good cop choosing to look the other way as the bad cop does his Dabaang act.

Lawyers at Patiala House court.

And every time OP Sharma appears on television he too is signaling the impunity he enjoys. This can no longer be regarded as the hot-headed “fringe elements” going on rampage. This is now a deliberate mainstream strategy, a Molotov cocktail of patriotism that the party hopes will garner fevered public support and paint everyone who opposes it as “anti-national” gaddars. The Bharatiya Janata Party is being positioned as equivalent to Bharat Mata. If the public cannot have development, let them eat nationalism instead.

Thus we now have a new definition of minimum government as promised by the Prime Minister in his election campaign.

Minimum Government (n): Minimum security for a detainee in court. Minimum control over goons loyal to the ruling party. Minimum intervention by party leaders.

Maximum Governance (n): Maximum use of national flag colours. Maximum use of sedition charges. Maximum use of anti-national epithets.

In another country, the opposition would do acts like these to undermine the government’s control. Maoists might try and destroy faith in the power of the state by showing its institutions as toothless paper tigers. But this is the government which sees no problem in letting its faithful undermine its own institutions, its police, its courts, to create an image of a sarkar that cannot guarantee the safety of a detainee or the press corps in a courthouse in the nation’s capital. Is this escalation surprising, given that the government’s own minister has no problem calling the media “presstitutes”?

Kanhaiya Kumar being escorted by police.

The police in the nation’s capital has been reduced to the puppets of government who cannot move until their strings are pulled by the powers that be. We see the spectacle of Bhim Sain Bassi, the police commissioner of Delhi, apparently unfazed that his force has been rendered mute spectator to violence, day after day, in a courthouse. The police that showed alacrity in going to college hostels to round up “anti-national students” stood paralysed in a courthouse while media persons and a detainee were beaten up, their phones snatched. They formed a shield around Kanhaiya only after he had already been attacked. The police did nothing. That has been the enduring description about what the police did over the past couple of days in publication after publication.

Thus we now have a new definition of police.

Police (n): Mute spectator in uniform meant to stand and watch goons beat up anyone it deems “anti-national” elements e.g. student union leaders and “presstitutes”. Most often used with the phrase “did nothing” as in the “Police did nothing”.

The Prime Minister, as usual, is unfazed. He is tweeting on about soil health cards, Ramakrishna Paramhansa and birthday greetings for Sushma Swaraj-ji. What’s most telling is that unlike after Dadri and Rohith Vemula’s suicide, there is not a huge clamour for the PM to speak up anymore. It’s as if the nation has understood the PM’s silence speaks louder than words.

The O P Sharmas and Vikram Chauhans have certainly understood it loud and clear. Meanwhile Bassi who is set to retire soon has also added his own entry to our new and revised Indian English Dictionary, the Patiala courthouse edition.

Jostling (n): Violence conducted in police presence involving punching, kicking, mobile phone snatching, heckling, abuse.

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