Modi's War on Democracy

Fascism is war. And saffron fascism means war against socially and economically marginalised people. The persons in authority are terrorising them to save their heaven—a democracy where democrats and liberals have very little role to play. They are fighting against a 'menace' that doesn't exist. They are fighting against a threat that doesn't relate to the nation. They imagine a world without dissenters, without order, without rationality, without freedom. They invented a ghost, they draped on the label of 'urban naxal' and now they find it everywhere, among all and every time they look at mass discontent, even a small gathering, with suspicion. They find it in colleges, in universities, in factories, in streets, in fields—everywhere. The biggest democracy in the world is now the biggest showpiece of hypocrisy. This is autocracy—plain and simple. They have no problem to stifle voice of dissent with iron hands while eulogising values and norms of democracy as enshrined in the Constitution.

The Modi administration seems to have drawn a secret plan to wipe out all opposition forces that don't subscribe to any brand political ideology propagated by dozens of political outfits recognised by the Election Commission. Freedom of expression through write-ups is dangerous! They see in freedom of speech a threat to their rule or misrule.

Individuals who feel disturbed with gradual erosion of democratic space are now under attack. The way writers and human rights activists are being framed under false charges and thrown behind bars borders on white terror, rather saffron terror.

In many ways today's India resembles pre-liberation Bangladesh where the Pakistani government and military decided to physically liquidate academics, writers, poets, rights activists posing threat to their dictatorship. They wanted to silence every voice of dissent so that the voiceless millions could not rise up in protest. They created an atmosphere of fear psychosis in which the people of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) were being forced to live against their will. The Pakistani military's programme was 'arrest all, kill all, burn all'. The Modi government has literally adopted the same policy of destroying all shades of dissent by incarcerating free thinkers and rights activists on filmsy charges or concocted charges. They are specifically targeting those people who are in truth voice of the weak and poor facing saffron terror somewhat helplessly in almost every corner of the country. The spate of arrest of social activists may lead to a stage where the Modis will soon need more jails. The Modi regime looks like a big prison house of dissenters, dalits and minorities. The banias who are so eloquent about their cheer leader Modi will be too happy to invest in prison industry on the basis of public-private partnership. The Pakistani administration simply butchered the opponents and here in India the Modis have succeeded in immobilising them by chaining them without trial for indefinite period.

Any criticism of Modi's autocracy is being immediately dubbed anti-national and anti-patriotic. The critics are either 'maoists' or agents of India's eternal villain—Pakistan. Modi's home minister periodically issues statement that maoists are on the run, they remain encircled by the Para-military in a few pockets in the jungles of central India. So they have launched a massive combing operation in major cities to identify radical intellectuals and take them into custody—they are urban naxals, not jungle naxals. They are trying to crush an ideology which they understand very little. The naxalite movement or for that matter maoist movement, has undergone many ideological twists and turns since its inception 50 years ago. It is not the same as it was in 1967. It has suffered immense setbacks and losses but the spirit of the original idea that gave birth to the movement continues to survive in different forms in different regions. Being alarmed by the ever increasing dalit assertion across the country the government has virtually issued 'look-out notice' to find out radicals who dare to talk of social, economic and political injustice meted out to vast millions. Whenever they protest against the status quo they get the label of 'naxal'. If the passive on-lookers still remain passive they will have to face a pre-liberation Bangladesh scenario, not in the distant future. Modi has borrowed a Pakistani junta script to cripple whatever remains of democracy. People demand a democracy that works everyday for every one and to be more just.

Vol. 51, No.33, Feb 17 - 23, 2019