byParsa Venkateshwar Rao January 9, 2021

Hate speeches of BJP and RSS leaders are spreading lawlessness in the Hindi heartland, writes PARSA VENKATESHWAR RAO JR. The trigger is the changing political winds, which have compelled the BJP-RSS to intensify their essentially divisive attributes.

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The story behind the arrest of Gujarat stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui in Indore on New Year’s Day is a clear display of proto-fascist muscle-power by the local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator and the city’s former mayor Malini Singh Gaur’s son, Eklavya Singh Gaur. They interrupted a show at Café Monroe and the police arrested Faruqui and his co-performers instead of Gaur and his musclemen, which tells a tale of politico-cultural terrorism of those associated with the ruling party in Madhya Pradesh.

detailed report published in Firstpost provides a vivid picture of the behaviour of Gaur, who is identified as the convenor of Hind Rakshak Sangathan, which is that of a local strongman whose illegal writ goes unchallenged.

The show was interrupted before Faruqui’s performance and the accusations thrown at him are with reference to an earlier video which was made long ago.

The controversy over the alleged contents of that video raged and subsided after the comedian had expressed his regrets and apologised.

The show was interrupted before Faruqui’s performance and the accusations thrown at him are with reference to an earlier video which was made long ago.

Therefore, the interruption and the arrest that followed the commotion created by Gaur and his gang were criminal acts in themselves which called for his and his group’s arrest instead of that of Faruqui and his associates. What has happened makes a mockery of the law-and-order machinery in the BJP-ruled state.

Worse was to follow.

REFUSED BAIL

The court in Indore refused bail to Faruqui not because of the charges brought against him under section 295A of IPC (hurting religious sentiments) and section 269 (unlawful or negligent act that could spread infection of any disease dangerous to life), but because of the police plea that it would disturb the law and order situation, as reported by indiatimes.com.

It is a farcical situation, and laughable, but for the serious implications of misuse of state power by the stormtroopers of the Hind Rakshak Sanghatan. And it goes beyond the goonda-ism of arrogant individuals and gangs associated with the BJP and the cowed-down local administration.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, after returning to power through the backdoor has adopted aggressive Hindutva more than ever.

The legal feebleness of the charges brought against Faruqui is self-evident. The 295A charge brought against him does not hold because it does not relate to the show on 1 January, which was disrupted.

Similarly, the charge under section 269 cannot be brought against Faruqui and his fellow stand-up comedians but against the organisers and the owners of the venue who are from Indore. The police then did not apply its mind when it framed the charges.

Eklavya Gaur would not have dared to storm the venue and force the disruption of the show if his mother were not a BJP legislator and if the BJP not in power.

MUSCLE POWER

It is indeed a fact that BJP and its affiliates have always displayed muscle power and criminal behaviour because of their inability to accept civilised norms of protest.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, after returning to power through the backdoor has adopted aggressive Hindutva more than ever.

The constitutional democratic system provides enough safeguards to those who do not agree with the majoritarian credo and who are the targets of hate campaigns.

The ordinances his government had issued on inter-faith marriages, following those in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, betrays a sense of insecurity and the need to be more intolerant in the hope of keeping his Hindutva folk united.

It is this pervasive culture of intolerance with unmistakable traces of anti-Muslim sentiment and the consequent criminality, like the one showed by Gaur, that has been turned into a political norm by the BJP state governments in the Hindi heartland. It is a challenge to the constitutional order.

As political winds change, and it would be unrealistic to deny that they have, majoritarianism has gained more than a foothold in society and there are enough people who have willingly surrendered themselves to irrational forces of hatred.

But the constitutional democratic system provides enough safeguards to those who do not agree with the majoritarian credo and who are the targets of hate campaigns, and it has to remain in place if the polity is not to collapse.

A recent example is that of the mob which stormed the building of the United States’ Congress building, the Capitol in Washington DC, incited by the irresponsible speech of the outgoing President Donald Trump.

The BJP leaders and party affiliates like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)—the RSS folk might object that BJP is the affiliate of the RSS and not the other way round, but the fact is that the BJP is in power and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the Hindutva leader who calls the shots and the RSS has no option but to play a subordinate role—have been spreading hate messages continuously, poisoning the air.

DANGEROUS PLOY

It is a fallout of the political recklessness of the BJP leaders, who are keen to win elections at all costs and for whom the communal card is a fair electoral ploy. They are indirectly responsible for the lawless behaviour of Gaur and his gang in Indore. This is not a local hate act. It is likely to spread like wildfire in the Hindi heartland and other parts of western India.

The South is fairly immune to Hindutva frenzy and to a lesser extent eastern India. The Hindi heartland consumed by anti-Muslim sentiment will remain in a primitive state for years to come unless the people and the BJP realise that hate does not help.

(The writer is an author, freelance journalist and political commentator based in Delhi. The views are personal.)

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