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Mainstream, VOL LV No 16 New Delhi April 8, 2017

Most Ominous

Sunday 9 April 2017, by SC

EDITORIAL

On April 3, that is, last Monday, chiefs of missions of 43 African countries based in India sharply reacted to the brutal assaults on four Nigerian students at a Greater Noida mall sometime back and charac-terised such an attack—one in a series of similar incidents—as “xenophobic and racial in nature” while lamenting that the Government of India took no “known, sufficient and visible” deterrent action.

The External Affairs Minister, herself a highly conscious personality sensitive to such a strong statement, did try to assauge the feelings of the African envoys but the sense of urgency from other Ministers, and most notably the PM, to placate the heads of missions and expain to them the steps the government was taking to tackle the problem was completely missing. This would only reinforce the African alienation from India in the coming days. As has been correctly pointed out by an eminent Indian historian, “The strong and entirely justified rebuke from the African heads of mission in New Delhi is a wake-up call to all Indians, the aam aadmi in the streets or the khas aadmi in his ministerial bungalow.” But do the persons in power in the Capital —that is, those who matter in the Union Cabinet—think that way? One would venture to say that a Nehru or an Indira or a Vajpayee would have definietly expressed concern over the African envoys’ views and done whatever was possible to bring the perpetrators of the violence to book. But perhaps it is too much to expect that from Narendra Modi and his closest associates running the Central administration.

Meanwhile, the situation in UP, where the BJP won a landslide victory in the recently held Assembly elections and elected Yogi Adityanath, one of the most divisive symbols of the Hindutva brigade, as the State CM, is turning from bad to worse. Belatedly the State Government did waive loans of Rs 36,359 crores taken by about 94 lakh small and marginal farmers, a promise the BJP made before the polls. But side by side the cow vigilante groups and anti-Romeo squads are causing havoc as they have been allowed to do whatever they want to. Taking a cue from the happenings in UP only yesterday the so-called gau rakshaks killed a 55-year-old dairy farmer, named Pehlu Khan, who was lynched to death in the Behror area of Alwar in Rajasthan, after branding him a cattle smuggler which he was not. And today Yogi Adityanath openly endorsed the call for a Hindu Rashtra, saying there was nothing wrong with that concept if it served the interests of the people and nation.

One increasingly gets the feeling that the country is changing beyond recognition at least as far as social relations among communities are concerned. The latest developments in UP as well as other North Indian States under BJP rule are bringing that out in bold relief with every passing day. Most ominous indeed.

April 6 S.C.