Beating Down Democracy with Sticks
The culture of violent suppression of anti-status quo ideological communities is evident of the ever growing threat to democratic ideals in India.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University has found itself in the middle of a controversy once again, this time the JNU-Students Union President has alleged that violence on her and other students/faculty members was perpetrated by right wing activists.
This culture of growing violence against alleged ‘anti-nationals’ and ‘pseudo-seculars’ undermines the ideals of democracy that we, as the largest democracy in the world project out into the global sphere. Social media discourse amongst foreigners has also taken note of this with a growing sense of concern. Even worse however is the manner in which the law enforcement authorities have shown grave impotence just weeks after their rather fervour-filled assaults on anti-CAA and anti-NRC activists in universities
In this rather unfortunate situations three institutions must take responsibility and bear the blame for the violence that has taken place.
Firstly, the law enforcement authorities of Delhi have certainly failed in their duties of safeguarding citizens as this stretched out assault took place as Delhi Police stood outside the gates of JNU. This calls for the reprimand of senior officers and an inquiry as to why the Police resorted to such a ‘calm and composed’ disposition in this matter when in earlier incidents they were belligerent and aggressive.
Secondly, the Right-Wing movement must take responsibility for an offence that they have on several occasions committed which puts them in a highly suspect position in this case. The institutionalisation and promotion of violence, physical assault and confrontation in the political arena. Indian politics is already dirty enough but the consistent manner in which the Right-Wing has allowed militant fringe elements to blossom in this recent period of conservative revivalism that we have seen in Indian politics is especially shameful. This not only de-legitimises many of the arguments that the Right-Wing scrapes up regarding what they call ‘leftist extremism’ when they themselves in the ordinary workings of politics often resort to inflammatory rhetoric and violence.
Thirdly, the JNU authorities share blame in this entire fiasco. The laxity of security around the perimeters of the campus coupled with the massive allegations of cooperation by authorities towards these assailants points towards at the very least, negligence and incompetence showcased rather stunningly by these authorities.
However the most alarming portion of this has been the support that this violence has garnered by certain elements of the society. These elements have attempted, in a rather grotesque manner, to justify these attacks claiming that this is retaliation for leftist violence, the right punishment for anti-nationals and by one stunning account a conspiracy against the Right-Wing.
In the midst of this blame game, one organisation called the ‘Hindu Raksha Dal’ has claimed responsibility for these attacks, giving press interviews and statements claiming that the anti-national culture of JNU cannot be tolerated. Rather ominously they have also stated that more attacks will follow if anyone speaks out against Hindusim.
How is this any different than the street militias used by the Nazis and other fascist elements in the Weimar Republic? How is this any different from the KKK and its activities during the McCarthy era? How is this any different from the Taliban and its totalitarian repression of any ‘anti-Islamic’ thinker.
If this attack is not condemned by all political organisations irrespective of political leanings, and if no proper action is taken by appropriate authorities against this organisation then that is perhaps the biggest failure of Indian democratic values ever. In which case, one may predict that India is taking steps down the dark path of theological and nationalistic dictatorship and that is a disturbing development.