Not just police, even political parties reluctant to catch ‘Hindutva’ by its horns

The instruments of the State have been so badly compromised that we are now genuinely shocked when our own laws are upheld or followed. The failure of the system is our biggest tragedy

Yati Narsinghanand (right) and other participants of 'Dharam Sansad' at a police station in Haridwar, Uttarakhand
Yati Narsinghanand (right) and other participants of 'Dharam Sansad' at a police station in Haridwar, Uttarakhand

Ranjona Banerji

You can get a case of sedition imposed on you for a cartoon that offends some politician or followers of a historical figure.

But you can openly call for genocide and be assured that the police would investigate the charge for weeks before reluctantly registering a First Information Report from a private citizen.

Forgive me, I should qualify the paragraph above. If you are a Hindu, you can openly call for genocide against Muslims and the wheels of the criminal investigation system will slowly creak into action but it will break down many times along the way.

The Haridwar Dharam Sansad where several Hindus not just advocated genocide of Indian Muslims but also planned how to go about it was almost a month ago. The most instant action was by the Raipur police against Kalicharan Maharaj who praised Nathuram Godse, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin. You guessed right, a case of sedition.

But it took the Uttarakhand Police almost a month after the event in the Uttarakhand town of Haridwar to “detain” a few of those at the “Dharam Sansad”. Their main target appears to be not the organiser, not the many Hindu “religious leaders” but the one Muslim in their midst, a recent “convert” to Hinduism—that is, Jitendra Tyagi, formerly known as Waseem Rizvi.

They eventually picked up Yati Narsinghanand, infamous for his hate speech, derogatory comments about women, who was one of the organisers of the event. This was after he openly dared them to arrest him and also came up with the threat that they – the police – were all going to die.

Whether he was being philosophical about mortality or making a threat is for you to decide. But the context is clear.

Sedition specifically applies to insults to the dead and to people in power. But calls for murder and violence are not as dangerous to the State, if they are made by supporters or cohorts of those in power.

The bigger picture is clear to anyone who is looking closely or is not wearing the bigot shades of the BJP-RSS. We are being pushed towards violence, against Muslims and after that all categories of people who annoy, oppose, push back against the BJP government at the Centre and its handlers in Nagpur.

Many of the organisations that took part in the “Dharam Sansad” are part of the larger families of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an RSS wing. Since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement began, the VHP has successfully infiltrated and now controls most of the Akhadas.

The Supreme Court decision to allow the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya despite its acknowledgement that the demolition of the Babri Masjid at the site was a criminal act, was never going to be enough for the rampaging Hindutva movement. It just emboldened it to carry on with its path to destroy the Indian republic and turn it into a Hindu majoritarian state.

The similarities between Nazi Germany and the RSS dream for India are not a coincidence, nor are they a surprise. The founders of the RSS made no secret of their admiration for Adolf Hitler and his methods. The sustained harassment and final extermination of Jews by Hitler is their particular favourite.

We have enough evidence now of how the BJP-RSS operates – history is rewritten, your enemies are targeted in a variety of ways, and persistent small cuts now gather ominously towards a massive event. Connections are also being made to the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s, where the Hutu-led government systematically slaughtered Tutsis and moderate Hutus and Twas.

Cut away for a moment to the use of technology by the Hindu and Hindutva right wing, and this includes the BJP’s IT wing, to the specific and carefully organised targeting specifically of Muslim women and women journalists who are even mildly critical of the BJP.

This is a campaign being fought on a number of fronts, from physical violence to destruction of livelihoods to destruction of mental health and societal standing.

Sadly, not enough political parties, even if they are in opposition to the BJP, seem able or willing to directly confront the threat. Especially when it comes to calling them out. This will be our biggest tragedy – the failure of the system. The instruments of the state have been so badly compromised that we are now genuinely shocked when our own laws are upheld or followed.

The small glimmers of light however do come from those states which are not run by the BJP. That has to grow or we cannot survive until 2024.

(The writer is an independent columnist. Views are personal)

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