Iron Heels

Nationalism and Pseudo-Nationalism


Ever since the event in JNU on the 9 February as well as the programme at the Press Club, Delhi, on 10 February 2016 remembering Afzal Guru's hanging as a travesty of justice, the media is abuzz with narratives of conspiracy and anti-national activity attributed to the organizers and participants of the programme. The Delhi Police has arrested and booked JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar under sections 124A (Sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and unlawful assembly while the newly appointed Vice-Chancellor has allegedly handed over a list of names of students with which the police has gone round every hostel in the campus searching for 'suspects'. It's intriguing that how an FIR has been filed charging sedition on 'unknown persons' and that being used as a convenient tool to harass every student in the campus. The police custody of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar has been further extended. On the 15 February CRPP President and Delhi University Professor SAR Geelani was detained around 8.30 pm when he was coming out of his college after classes. Prof SAR Geelani also has been charged under 124A, 149 and 120B IPC for organizing a meeting at the Press Club to commemorate the hanging of Afzal Guru as a travesty of justice. Prof Geelani was sent to 2 days police custody when he was produced in the court on Tuesday [February 16] amidst heavy police presence in the court with no one-not even the family members- except the lawyers being allowed to be present at the court.

The fundamental question that should be addressed dispassionately is that whether a democracy can take refuge in an archaic colonial law like the Sedition Act to strangulate itself. The duplicity of the present BJP dispensation is further evident as it is the same Macaulay who they blame for all the ills of the erosion of Indian culture who enacted this anti-people law to stifle the anti-colonial resistance. No civilized world that vouches its credentials on respect for the others' opinion can sustain itself by using such a draconian law as the harbinger of law and order and then claim at the same time to be the largest democracy. But then why is the Narendra Modi government and the RSS persistent on taking refuge in such penalizing draconian instruments to push their politics?

It is true that the protests inside and outside campuses from students and various sections of the people have increased after the initial hype and hubris of the present government amidst the gradual realization of the people that there is little on the table for Narendra Modi led government to offer to the impoverished peasantry and the toiling masses as succour in an ocean of misery and despair. Apart from the selfies and the glitz of the media events there is little happening on the ground. The protests in the universities have by and large reflected these sentiments of the vast sections of the people along with the distraught condition of higher education in the subcontinent. It is this growing opinion among the educated and the opinionated, a gradual losing of the 'battle for the hearts and minds' that have pushed the present beleaguered government into a knee jerk reaction to an otherwise routine event in JNU where the students have the tradition of democratically articulating opposing views not only as essential theoretical exercises in their sociology and political studies tutorials but also as events outside the classrooms which discuss every issue of significance to the student as well as the society in general. It is this slice of the liberal fabric that JNU inculcates to make its students understand and internalize the essential sensibility of what it means to be in a democracy that is being attacked. In a democracy the strength and meaning of the nature of the democracy that people talk about and claim to be is measured by the level of dissent it encourages and protects as a fundamental necessity to ensure the democratic fabric of the society. A Rohit Vemula was holding up this candle of liberal thinking and fearless criticism when he and his friends tried to host the event highlighting the miseries of the people (mostly Muslims) affected by the horrors of organized violence against them in Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh as part of the build up towards polarizing votes on communal lines before the parliament elections in 2014.

Grand fairy tale narratives of alleged anti-India elements from across the border directly congratulating and facilitating the event in Jawaharlal Nehru University to a solid blanket portrayal of one of the best academic institutions in the subcontinent as well as Asia as synonymous to being anti-natlonal have made it amply clear the larger designs behind this deliberate hyperbole. This is ample evidence of how much the hyperbole of jingoism indulged in by the Home Ministry, HRD Ministry and the RSS ably parodied by certain motivated sections of the media have breached every limit of reason and moderation. In fact the vitriolic nature of the media trial indulged in by a section of the media is so pervertedly infectious that the Delhi Police Chief has almost justified the premeditated violence on journalists, activists, students and teachers of JNU at the Patiala house court complex on the 15 February by a few 'lawyers' led by the BJP MLA O P Sharma as a "minor scrap" and "a fall-out of an emotive Issue". The Delhi Police Chief's tacit endorsement has further smartened the BJP MLA that he is brazen about how roguish he had been since his childhood further warning that he will not shy away from repeating the act.

That the present BJP government at the centre which is ready to share power in Kashmir with the PDP—who terms the killing of Afzal Guru as a travesty of justice—at the same time would dub any programme expressing the same sentiment in Delhi as anti-national shows only the duplicity of the variant of nationalism that it purportedly and shamelessly promotes. Now that all the grand narratives are crumbling and the actual motive of a certain pathologically aggressive behavior of the Narendra Modi government is being interrogated by the discerning mind, one needs to dig deeper into a larger design that can be traced to the entire length and breadth of the subcontinent. Of a sinister design to stifle every voice of dissent as anti-national. To dub any opinion or person or community or group holding a different view point—other than the BJP and RSS and all its affiliates—as anti-national and whip up jingoism to promote lawlessness and anarchy thus paving the way for the militarization of the mind and then the society that will find all remedies for the ills that it faces in instruments of retribution and hate. Alternately, and quite significantly, this is also the path that the "Make in India" campaign and the total surrender of the Indian economy to global and local capital also badly needs. A near total disrespect and disregard for law and procedures and complete erosion of the accountability and credibility of all the institutions that are supposed to safeguard the interests of the vast sections of the masses. The above mentioned duplicity of the BJP can only be understood when one looks deeper into the urges and the necessities that the global capital and its local counterparts want the present dispensation to do.

The Macaulays are back under the garb of a pseudo-nationalist anti-people government.

That many of the participants have been kept in the parliament police station for hours together for just participating in the public event in the Press Club only shows the level of desperation of a government that does not have anything to show before the people.

Vol. 48, No. 35, Mar 6 - 12, 2016