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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 12, New Delhi, March 7, 2020

Anatomy of a Planned Genocide

Monday 9 March 2020, by Barun Das Gupta

Some people will jump at the word “genocide” in connection with the recent Delhi violence. They will also jump at the word “pogrom”. They will react with equal vehemence to the phrase “communal riot”. What happened in northeast Delhi for the better part of a week, they would have us believe, was nothing but a clash between supporters of the CAA and their misguided opponents.

The first question that should be put to them is: pray, tell us gentlemen, how many killings will qualify for being called a “genocide” or a “pogrom” or a simple “communal riot”? That it was not a riot is obvious. Local Hindus did not attack the local Muslims. Rather, they gave them food and shelter, arranged to send them to hospitals, collected blood for the injured. The trouble-makers came from outside. The violence was pre-planned to meticulous details. The rows of burnt houses, schools, shops, markets and motor vehicles charred to their metal frames bear mute testimony to the intensity of the violence and the clinical precision with which the attacks were planned and carried out.

For the first two-and-a-half days the police were conspicuous either by their absence or by their total inaction. Whenever the victims of the attack sought help from the police they got the answer: “We have no orders from above.” Under the criminal law, police do not need to take anyone’s order to deal with rioters, arsonists and murderers. But in the case of the Delhi violence they had been “ordered” not to intervene but to remain silent spectators. Who issued the order? Was the order written or verbal? Why has the Home Minister not uttered a single word explaining the strange inaction of the police? More, why was the judge, who remonstrated with the police for not registering FIRs against those who shouted slogans like “goli maro salonko” and who said a repetition of 1984 could not be tolerated, was transferred by a presidential order in the middle of the night and the judge who came to hear the case after him immediately gave the police four weeks’ time to file the FIR?

One of the BJP leaders who shouted “Goli maro salonko” is a member of the Union Council of Ministers. Neither the Prime Minister, nor the Home Minister, nor party President Nadda is known to have taken him to task for raising the slogan inciting violence, not to speak of dropping him from the Cabinet. Does it not amount to approbation?

There is a proverb that even the darkest cloud has a silver-lining. The silver-lining in the Delhi violence is that the people of Delhi did not allow the violence to spread to other parts of the metropolis despite provocation. The violence, engineered by the Hindutva groups, failed to evoke any response from the common people. Otherwise the violence would have engulfed other areas of the Capital as well. This is a good sign.

What is most painful is the passivity of the Opposition parties including the Congress. They have not shown the slightest sign of organising resistance against the communal organisations and their communal propaganda. Only Congress President Sonia Gandhi led a delegation to the President and formally demanded the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah. Otherwise, a strange paralysis seems to have immobilised the entire Opposition. There is not the slightest indication of their hitting the streets. Have they been so much emasculated by the Modi Raj that they dare not hold public protests and street demonstrations?

That there were no repercussions of the riot anywhere else in the Capital and the country underscores the fact that people by and large remain non-communal and the BJP and other organisations of the Sangh Parivar have failed to whip up the type of mass hatred against Muslims that they wanted to. No one outside the Sangh Parivar lent his or her voice to the feral slogan of “goli maro”.

In Kolkata, where this scribe lives, there are reports of the BJP foot-soldiers visiting mohallas to create public opinion in favour of the CAA and NRC and being rebuffed by the people. Sometimes heated arguments ensue and the foot-soldiers leave creating more anger and antagonism than sympathy. A simple question many ask them is, if the CAA is meant to grant, not deprive, citizenship to the people, why are birth certificates of parents required to be produced? The foot-soldiers have no answers. The hostility that the BJP workers are facing from the common people has unnerved them before the civic elections in the State next month. The civic poll result will give an indication of what is going to happen in the State Assembly elections to be held next year. The TMC has decided to field a hundred thousand workers who will fan out in towns and villages all over the State to carry the party’s message. So far, there is no indication that the BJP can match this strength.

The fear gnawing in the minds of the people who had to leave East Pakistan after Partition is: whether they would be made refugees for the second time. The fear becomes stronger when they are told that neither the Aadhar card, nor the voter card, nor the PAN card, nor the passport is a proof of one’s Indian citizenship. The BJP propagandists have nothing to allay the fears of the people that they may be deprived of their Indian citizenship. The TMC’s high-voltage propaganda in the urban and rural areas has put the BJP on the back foot.

Meanwhile, the air is thick with rumours that Chandra Kumar Bose, Vice-President of the West Bengal BJP, is about to quit the party. Chandra Bose is a political non-entity. His only importance lies in his family lineage. He happens to be a grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. It is only for this reason that the BJP gave him the high-sounding political sinecure of a Vice-President. He has not been pulling well for some time, both with his party’s ideology and its State leadership. Of late he has been publicly critical of the party. If he quits, it will not harm the BJP organisationally, but it will dent the party’s public image.

The author was a correspondent of The Hindu in Assam. He also worked in Patriot, Compass (Bengali), Mainstream. A veteran journalist, he comes from a Gandhian family and was intimately associated with the RCPI leader, Pannalal Das Gupta.

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