The Big Lie — “Anti-National slogans”
It would be a futile exercise, if you start countering the unending stream of lies from the BJP/RSS and its minions. Today marks the 15th anniversary of one of their biggest lies, the Indian version of the Reichstag fire, in which a train compartment on fire (from a still unknown source) was used as an excuse for genocide. These days, another lie is being repeated endlessly to defend the ABVP’s violence in Indian campuses. This is the lie about the “anti-national” slogan.
For all their attacks on students at the Ramjas College in Delhi University, of stone pelting inside the seminar room, of beating up professors and students, of hurling abuses, rape threats and death threats, their only defense has been that they were just responding to “anti-national slogans”. This lie has got so much currency that you can hear everyone from the BJP’s “fake-encounter accused” President Amit Shah to the average neighbourhood sanghi on whatsapp repeating this, endlessly.
At the Ramjas College, the ABVP attack started way before the “Cultures of Protest” seminar started. The attack started before even a word was spoken, leave alone any slogans. It is another matter that ABVP does not have a right to intervene, even if such slogans were raised. So, now that we have got the fake story about the slogans at Ramjas out of the way, let’s deal with the other problem of ABVP — Umar Khalid and the “anti-national slogans” he is supposed to have raised last year at JNU.
Umar Khalid, Kanhaiya and others were accused of sedition and arrested based on a doctored video of “anti-national slogans” about breaking down India. Now, who was the doctored video traced back to? BJP-mouthpiece Zee Channel first, and from them to Shilpi Tiwari, a close aide of the then HRD minister Smriti Irani and a prominent hate-monger in twitter (and so, one of the few who are followed by Narendra Modi). She was in the news two days back, when she tweeted in praise of Modi’s ‘stole’, which he wore to a ceremony, and Modi promptly sent her the stole. Probably, a late reward for the doctored video.
So, now, the debate which should have happened around the ABVP’s terrorism in the country’s campuses, has shifted to these non-existent “Anti-national slogans”. It’s a pattern which we have seen around all issues, in which the BJP was cornered. After Dadri, Beef eaters became anti-national. After the murders of Kalburgi and Pansare and the award wapsi over ‘intolerance’, the filmmakers involved and Shahrukh and Aamir became anti-nationals. At FTII, the students protesting porn star Gajendra Chauhan being made the Chairman, became anti-nationals. Rohith Vemula became an anti-national because he committed suicide, fed up of the Brahmanical VC’s and ABVP’s attacks. Those who expressed doubts about the tall claims on “surgical strikes” became anti-national. Those questioning the large scale killings and blindings of Kashmiris became anti-nationals. Those questioning Modi’s hare-brained demonetization became anti-national. In Modi’s India, the anti-national certificate is perpetually hanging over your head, to be placed around your neck, the minute you open your mouth.
The debate is soon derailed, with the likes of Arnab Cowswami and all the channels doing BJP’s PR work taking over from there. Now, they have got a bunch of award-hungry, power-hungry, brainless celebrities like Virender Sehwag, Randeep Hooda, Anupam Kher, Amitabh Bachchan and others to further the debate along those lines. Every single issue is now converted into one about soldiers, borders, tricolor, Pakistan, Jana Gana Mana. This time around, they were particularly hurt, because Gurmehar Kaur, a Kargil martyr’s daughter, had destroyed their biggest figleaf — soldiers — by taking a stand against ABVP hooliganism. So, the only way before them was to silence her into submission and thus came the abuses, rape threats and death threats, from Ministers, MPs, celebrities and a few other famous abusers followed by Mr.Modi. They even went to the extent of saying that he was not a martyr, in the real sense. They carefully did not talk about her opinion on ABVP, which led to this attack, and instead attacked her based on a video posted one year back, in which she made a fervent plea for peace. Again, framing it as a nationalism debate, rather than on ABVP’s goondaism.
All of these are being cheered on by an upper caste elite (acting as ‘neutrals’), who have from time immemorial hated the idea of the powerless, the underdogs raising questions. The questions will continue to be raised. The spaces for debate will be reclaimed and blind Nationalism will end up in the dust bin, where it belongs. Just that for the time being the fascists continue to hold the upper hand. But, fall they will. And when they do, the suppressed voices will all rise up and question the neutrals, the Arnab Cowswamis in the media and everyone else who are supporting the fascists now, on why they betrayed the Constitution. At that moment, their faces might turn to the same colour of shame, as were seen on the faces of the Nazi apologists, when their grandsons and granddaughters questioned them — “Whose side you were on, with the Nazis or against the Nazis?”
Whose side you are on, with the Sanghis or against the Sanghis?