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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 32, New Delhi, July 25, 2020

Politics as War on the People | Arup Kumar Sen

Friday 24 July 2020, by Arup Kumar Sen

The politics of State Power in India has taken the distinct form of declaring war on the people. The recent developments in our country bear testimony to it.

On March 13, 2020, Yogi Adityanath-led UP government gave its approval to Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damage to Public and Private Property (UPRDPPP) Ordinance, 2020. The government’s decision came a day after the Supreme Court did not stay the Allahabad High Court order to the Lucknow administration to “forthwith” remove roadside “name and shame” hoardings displaying the personal details of persons accused of vandalism and arson during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in December 2019 (The Hindu, March 14, 2020). A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Allahabad High Court challenging the UPRDPPP Ordinance, 2020, stated: “The ordinance is arbitrary and unconstitutional because it allows for proceedings to be instituted against persons against whom no prima facie evidence exists either of commission of a crime or of destruction of property”. The Division Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Samit Goyal of the Allahabad High Court, after hearing the PIL, said in its order that the “ordinance is arbitrary in its very nature”. (Cited in The Hindu, March 19, 2020)

The eminent writer-activist Varavara Rao (80), an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case along with other well-known civil/human rights activists, is behind the bars for about 22 months and had approached the Special National Investigation Agency Court, seeking bail on medical grounds and the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Very recently, Rao is tested coronavirus positive and fighting for his survival. (The Hindu, July 19, 2020)

The assertion of State Power in India under the BJP rule reminds us of Giorgio Agamben’s classic observation made in his seminal book, State of Exception: “...modern totalitarianism can be defined as the establishment, by means of the state of exception, of a legal civil war that allows for the physical elimination not only of political adversaries but of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into the political system.”

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