On this side of the Radcliffe line, we have a functioning democracy. We can vote and we can change our leaders if we want. For decades, one group has enjoyed veto power on who can rule India. That changed in 2014. Most of the old establishment were desperately hoping it would be a one time event, an aberration.
But it wasn’t. In 2019, the people of India repeated their verdict, this time even more emphatically. The veto power lay in shambles. Or so we thought.
Then it began. The old establishment began to pick up the pieces and said so what? Now their storm troopers, armed with stones, roam the streets of our cities, shutting down this or that area at will.
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They are showing that they don’t need democracy. They can exercise the veto power by raw street action. The infamous “direct action” if you will.
Read: An eye-witness account of the ‘Great Calcutta Killing’ of August 1946
The direct action squad is divided between commands that work together like a well oiled machine. First, there are the organizers who gather people at certain spots in the name of peaceful protest, on standby for direct action. Then as per strategy, at a carefully chosen occasion, the storm troopers are sent out to engage in wanton violence. They are accompanied by camera teams who carefully capture snippets that can misrepresent the police. Within seconds, these videos are relayed to liberal journalists for posting on social media. Teams of “fact checkers” are kept ready to counter any slip ups by the storm troopers. Scripted interviews are taken to be passed on as first person testimony.
Second rung celebrities, social media influencers as well as on ground youth organizers are then used to create sympathy for the rioters. And finally there is the overseas PR arm, the global media which will lobby against the Indian government in capitals around the world.
One astounding fact in all of this is how redundant the ‘secular’ political establishment appears to be. They may be pulling some strings from behind, sharing their contacts and helping the different groups collaborate with each other. But they appear mostly invisible. Some of it may be by design, but I suspect some of it is not.
Over the last two days, we have seen the nation being held hostage like never before. Even as the President of the United States was visiting.
Read: Donald Trump solidifies his reputation of respecting national sovereignty, says CAA and Delhi violence is up to India
As President Trump landed in India, the crowds that had been gathered for ‘peaceful protests’ at strategic spots became active. The violence was carefully choreographed for maximum global media attention, just the way Pakistan sponsored terrorists try to internationalize Kashmir.
Everything was carefully scripted, down to each media report that talked of clashes between two groups and putting most of the blame on Hindu right wing groups. As if anyone on the Hindu right would try to maximize the embarrassment for the government by getting violent at the exact moment of Trump’s visit. Just way too obvious who had the motive to burn the capital exactly on February 24 and February 25.
But like I said, everything was carefully scripted, down to each media report that made sure to call one group “protesters” and another group as “agitators.” Guess which was called which.
As the violence peaked, liberal spokespersons gleefully demanded ransom on Twitter. Dear PM, announce the withdrawal of CAA and India will be peaceful in seconds, they promised.
Ha! As if negotiating with terrorists has ever saved a country.
Millions of Indian hearts burned yesterday as India was wantonly embarrassed in front of the visiting President. With each plume of smoke rising above Delhi, our hearts sank and faces turned red with shame and regret.
Luckily, the Americans were polite, acting as if they couldn’t see the show of violence that liberal malcontents in India had arranged specifically for them. President Trump shot down a question from a mediaperson who tried to get him to comment on India’s domestic affairs. Credit also to Indian diplomats for making them aware of our sensibilities.
This is how they intend to enforce the old veto. If electoral politics will not offer it to them directly, they think they can take it back by raw street power. By holding us to ransom.
If you are seething inside as I am, just take a moment to think about the plight of Hindus in Pakistan. For a nation that has 1 billion Hindus, we speak precious little about Hindus living just a few miles across the border. We have given them up for lost. In many ways, we have become conditioned to thinking of them as already dead. Every last one of them.
But they are not dead, at least not all of them. Till there is even one Hindu left in Pakistan, there is a spark of the ancient culture still alive, in a land that used to belong to Bharat just three generations ago.
Did the riots of the last two days make you feel helpless? Now imagine the helplessness and terror that Hindus feel in Pakistan. The threat of violence awakens our most primal fears. It heightens our sense of identity. Our instinct for self preservation. Never have I felt so targeted and so self aware of my Hindu name and Hindu culture as during these anti-CAA riots.
What is your Hindu name? Suresh? Sumitra? Srinivas? Have you thought what you will do if you are attacked tomorrow? Probably not. But at the back of your mind, you probably know that you can always run to a neighborhood where you will be safe. Even if you have to flee your entire state, you can at least survive in the state next door.
But what if you were a Hindu in Pakistan? Where would you run?
I can only thank my good fortune that I am not a Hindu in Pakistan. Now more than ever before, I feel sympathy for their plight. And in helping the Hindu refugees in India, we are only saving ourselves.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar – A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.