October 24, 2015

India: Why reprimands of hatemongers by Shah and Jaitley are completely hollow (Kavita Krishnan)

The calibrated condemnations are mere punctuation marks in the unbridled hatemongering by RSS and BJP members.

Photo Credit: IANS
The condemnations came, albeit belatedly.

In early October, Finance Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley denounced the lynching of a Muslim man over beef-eating rumours in Dadri with the reproof that such incidents were “not good for India’s image” and in particular Modi government’s “development agenda”.

A few weeks later, there was more disapproval expressed. After a clutch of BJP and Sangh Parivar members made hate speeches, blaming the Dadri victim and stoking communal discord, Jaitley said that BJP president Amit Shah “put on notice” some BJP leaders to let them know that “that their statements are not appreciated by the party at all”.

Before putting Jaitley’s and Shah’s so-called reprimands in perspective, let’s remember some of the many hate speeches over Dadri.

Shrichand Sharma, vice-president of BJP’s western Uttar Pradesh unit
“When we hurt people’s sentiments, such clashes take place. Whose blood won’t boil if they see cow slaughter?”

Nawab Singh Nagar, former BJP MLA from Dadri
“If cow slaughter and its consumption is proven, they [the victim and his family] are definitely at fault. There is a ban on slaughter of cows and this concerns the faith of Hindus. It is obvious that such an incident will lead to anger among people and there will be communal tension.”

Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister for Culture
“It is an accident and it should be probed by CBI or state and guilty should be punished. Innocents should not be victimised in the name of investigation. It [the murder] took place as a reaction to that incident [cow slaughter]. You must also consider that there was also a 17-year-old daughter in that home. No one lifted a finger to touch her.”

Sangeet Som, BJP MLA and an accused in Muzaffarnagar riots
“The law should act as law. Otherwise, we have given a strong reply in the past and would do that in future as well...They [the Akhlaq family] were taken by the Uttar Pradesh government [to Lucknow] in an airplane. How they treated the accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, they are treating those who have slaughtered a cow the same way.”

Tarun Vijay, BJP MP
“Why responsibility to keep peace and maintain calm is always put on the Hindus alone? Be a victim and maintain silence in face of assaults!”

Jitendra Tyagi, leader of Hindu Yuva Vahini, founded by BJP MP Yogi Adityanath
“We will go [to Dadri] and meet Hindus who are being harassed by authorities. We will provide them all possible help, be it tan-man-dhan-gun [body, mind, wealth, guns], if they are harassed.”

Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana Chief Minister
“[Dadri] should not have happened, from both sides. There shouldn’t have been a loose comment about the cow. …Muslims can live here, but in this country, they will have to stop eating beef… If someone eats openly, it will be opposed. So this opposition would have been there in Dadri also.”

Sakshi Maharaj, BJP MP
“J&K independent MLA’s assault was just a reaction. His action… hurt the masses and he was beaten up – leaders need to change their mindset or get beaten up by the people in full public view… A strong law should be put in place to hang people responsible for cow slaughter.”

Giriraj Singh, Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
“There is a difference between a man’s relationship with his wife and that with his sister. Similarly, there is a distinction between meat of goat and cow.”

Vinay Krishna Chaturvedi, in RSS organ Panchjanya
“Madrasas and the Muslim leadership teach Indian Muslims to hate the country’s traditions. Akhlaq perhaps slaughtered a cow under the influence of such bad deeds… Vedas order killing of the sinner who kills a cow.…the (Dadri) killing was a natural reaction to the sin of cow slaughter… If you do not respect the feelings of 80 per cent majority, how can such reactions be prevented?”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in reaction to Lalu Prasad’s remark that Hindus too eat beef
“In Gujarat yaduvanshis [people of yadav caste] have brought white revolution while rearing cows… But, here [in Bihar] we don’t know what he [Lalu Prasad] has eaten… he has derogated yaduvanshis. Don’t forget that it was the yaduvanshis who had supported you and took to power.”

Temporary stops

The hatemongering went unchecked for days. When Jaitley finally denounced the Dadri lynching, the only purpose it served was to distance, in the eyes of some, the Modi government from the hate speeches and rationalisations of the Dadri lynching. Even Amit Shah’s supposed castigation of BJP leaders was a fig leaf for those who seek to persuade themselves to continue supporting the Modi government in spite of Dadri.

The calibrated condemnations and reprimands are merely serving as punctuation marks in the unbridled hatemongering by RSS and BJP members. Did the reprimands work?

Sangeet Som declared, “There was no question of reprimanding! Reprimanding happens when you have done something wrong.” For his part, Sakshi Maharaj remarked, “The way some media houses have reported about the meeting insinuating me being reprimanded or scolded, is not responsible reportage… I am a sanyasi. He [Shah] looked at me and I looked at him. That was it.”

Remember, hatemongers have prospered in the BJP precisely because of their history of stoking hatred and communal violence. Sangeet Som, for instance, is an accused in the Muzaffarnagar communal violence. Adityanath and his Hindu Yuva Vahini have a record of making hate speeches and inciting communalism in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. Sakshi Maharaj too is an old offender.

If the BJP’s intent was to slap down everyone fomenting disharmony, then Modi, Shah and Jaitley wouldn’t have been silent on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s brazen defence of the Dadri lynching in Panchjanya. The RSS has, of course, pretended that the Panchjanya is not an RSS organ – much as it sometimes claims that the BJP is not its electoral front – despite the fact that its leaders have edited Panchjanya and Organiser. In fact, one such editor, Tarun Vijay, is now a BJP parliamentarian.

But of course, nobody in the BJP, not even the brass, is in a position to criticise the RSS. Just last month, top ministers of the Modi cabinet were making presentations behind closed doors to the RSS in a three-day review meeting. The same RSS leaders who have links to outfits orchestrating violence across India over cow smuggling or slaughter were surveying the work of the Indian government.

The hate-speech habit is not limited to crimes against minorities either. Crimes against Dalits get the same dose of arrogance and hatred from the Modi government. Where Dadri was concerned, the prime minister claimed it was the state government’s sole responsibility. But when a Dalit family supposedly getting police protection was set on fire and two toddlers burnt alive in Ballabhgarh, Union Minister General (retd.) VK Singh claimed there was nothing the BJP’s Haryana government could have done to prevent what he claimed was a “family feud”. He added, “If someone throws stones at a dog, the government is not responsible.”

Two Dalit children burnt alive, according to the General, are like dogs stoned. No doubt, his defenders will find a line in the Vedas or Manusmriti to justify this analogy. Another central minister, Giriraj Singh from Bihar, was the man who could describe the butcher of Bihar’s Dalits, Brahmeshwar Singh of the Ranveer Sena, as “Bihar’s Gandhi”.

Meanwhile, a Bajrang Dal member Prashanth Poojary has been hacked to death in Moodbidri, Karnataka. This murder is indeed condemnable in the strongest terms. But what sticks out is that nobody – from the BJP or other parties – has called the murder an accident. No chief minister or parliamentarian has said that Poojary got his just deserts for being a Bajrang Dal member or otherwise rationalised the killing. The Sangh thinks Moodbidri exposes the hypocrisy of those expressing outrage over Dadri. But in fact it reveals the Sangh’s own double standards. The Sangh calls Poojary a martyr – contrast this with their victim-blaming in Dadri.