Contemporary India: A lynch-nation?
If lynching is the medium, it is also the message in contemporary India. It can be prime time on Ku Klux Klan TV, or in the tragic back-lanes of Latehar in Jharkhand
Media ethics has long been dumped into the garbage can by certain Ku Klux Klan-type propagandists, masquering as journalists on television. Does it really matter to them if the pistols kills, or jams, in a high security area in Lutyens’ Delhi, hours before the Independence Day drill?
Undoubtedly, there is the bad smell of murder and lynching in the air, like a grotesque nightmare, day after day. This is both ‘manufactured consent’, as Noam Chomsky would argue, and systemic violence, with a method in the madness.
Umar Khalid, who has just submitted his PhD in JNU against all odds, is right. The ruling regime’s spokespersons and certain TV anchors should take the responsibility for ‘lynching’ him routinely with brazen lies and accusations, assassinating his character, without an iota of evidence. Despite the irrefutable fact that no chargesheet has been filed against him, and the courts have let him be. Nor is there any proof that he has ever shouted any anti-national slogan in JNU. And, yet, he has been relentlessly branded anti-national, Pakistani, extremist, terrorist, out to break the country -- part of the “tukre tukre gang”.
There is a photo-shopped image currently viral in the social media, created by young, angry minds. Instead of the pistol lying on the ground near the Constitution Club in New Delhi, the L-shaped object depicts the names of two TV channels. That is, forget the pistol for a moment. Neo-Nazi propaganda and fake news are the true metaphors of daily assassinations.
Indeed, a twitter post on August 13 was on the dot: “In their bulletins today, India's hate channels should showcase the assassination attempt on @UmarKhalidJNU as the ‘Impact’ of their coverage. Take ownership. Be frank. It may even get you more viewers. And endear you to the rulers even more…’
Lynching is in the air. In a Sahitya Akademi symposium on the occasion of Independence Day, journalist Antara Dev Sen asked, “Have we become a lynching nation?” In a recent book launch by a Congress leader in the capital, attended by political big-wigs, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said, “Nobody from the sangh (parivar) supports lynchings.” On the prime minister’s speech on Independence Day, the Congress spokesperson asked him in a rebuttal: “…Will you debate on mob-lynching that is happening under the instigation and protection of BJP leaders..?”
No one really knows the secret ‘Mann ki Baat’ of the prime minister when it comes to disconcerting issues haunting the country in these dark times: the murder of Gauri Lankesh, the attack on Umar Khalid, the ‘almost’ lynching of Swami Agnivesh, and the spate of mob-lynchings across the country, especially in BJP-ruled states, often by cow vigilantes with direct or tacit linkages with the Sangh Parivar. If the nation is looking for a statesman, it has been starkly disappointed.
The fact is, in that ‘certain’ Union minister’s home state, Jharkhand, the relationship between the mob-lynchers and their parasitic dependence on the Hindutva state machinery is transparent. While tragedy stalks one family after another, while women mourn their dead killed most brutally by organized mobs as organized murder, the killers, in many cases, roam free, flexing their 56-inch chests.
However, are the abusive, sexist trolls, the fanatic bhakts, the sinister mind-managers in the media – are they disappointed? Who is their undisputed leader, messiah, prophet, role model?
Indeed, most of them seem to be gloating over the specter of the ‘lynch-nation’, remotely untouched by shame, bad faith or guilt. It seems to be their dream project, their insatiable fantasy, the anti-catharsis.
For instance, for the rabble-rousers, there is no place for an objective corrigendum for their brazen indiscretions. On the contrary, there is an obsessive, pathological and grotesque celebration of fake news, or, yet another outburst of indecency and filth, as witnessed after the murder of Gauri Lankesh, the brutal attack on Swami Agnivesh, and the murder attempt on Umar.
Introspection, self-criticism, acceptance of contrary opinions, contradictions and dissent? In their world-view, these concepts do not exist.
Witness the video of the ‘Gau rakshaks’ who have openly claimed that they tried to murder Umar. They called all concerned in JNU as “mad dogs”. It is as if they are dying to be turned into heroes, glorified, felicitated publicly, and, perhaps, garlanded by a Union minister.
The fact is, in that ‘certain’ Union minister’s home state, Jharkhand, the relationship between the mob-lynchers and their parasitic dependence on the Hindutva state machinery is transparent. While tragedy stalks one family after another, while women mourn their dead killed most brutally by organized mobs as organized murder, the killers, in many cases, roam free, flexing their 56-inch chests. And not only that, they lead aggressive processions through the by-lanes of these very homes of Indian citizens whose men have been lynched -- shouting communal slogans, protected by the police.
Sanjay Kumar, Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Sciences at the Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Motihari, Bihar was assaulted by ABVP goons, stripped, lynched, with petrol put on him. If his progressive Facebook posts are an indicator, for which he was lynched, they are full of articles by great academics: Jairus Banaji, Prabhat Patnaik, Avijit Patnaik. So if you don't agree with his ideas, you put petrol on him to burn him to death?
If lynching is the medium, it is also the message in contemporary India. It can be prime time on Ku Klux Klan TV, or in the tragic back-lanes of Latehar in Jharkhand.