15, Feb 2018 | Teesta Setalvad
Following in the footsteps of India’s Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, who had denied that the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq at Dadri village in UP was a ‘communal’ act, that too in Parliament, way back in December 2015, now it is the topmost police official of India’s largest state, by population, director general of police (DGP), OP Singh of UP who has denied that there were any riots in the state last year.
Only two weeks ago, well planned violence had broken out in Kasganj in the state, that has resulted in one death and widespread destruction of minority property but the top cop says, no, this is just ‘group violence.’ “There were no communal riots in the state. Tensions do arise due to group clashes in some districts but overall UP has been a riot-free state in the past one year,” The Indian Express reported. Any police officer or bureaucrat under the Indian police service (IPS) or Indian administrative service (IAS), is, by the way, supposed to be wedded to the fundamentals of the Indian Constitution and by implication, non-partisan governance.
This rather strange claim comes from the DGP despite the central home ministry’s own data presented to parliament – that has documented that the state had witnessed the highest number of communal incidents (60) in the country and 16 deaths making it a record highest in the country. Ironically, Adityanath’s statement in the Lok Sabha after his swearing in as the chief minister was that the state will witness no communal riots under his government! Adityanath was sworn in as chief minister in March of 2017 has not been borne out by the situation on the ground. UP, presently has witnessed brute anti-Dalit violence too, followed by repression of leaders who represent Dalits.
Facts and Figures vs. Rhetoric and Propapganda
The widespread Sahranpur violence that was concentrated in Shabbirpur village in May-June 2017 is well documented. Just days ago, a Dalit law student, Dilip Saroj, was beaten to his death in the capital city of Lucknow. We do not know if Ajay Upadhyaya (a restaurant owner) from the capital and Vijay Shankar from Sultanpur who have been detained enjoy political patronage or are part of any organisation. That goons of the ruling dispensation – the unofficial brown shirts of the proto-fascist force in power – roam brazenly, is a fact with which that Muslims, Dalits, young couples in love are brutally familiar. There is a perpetrated and calculated lawlessness and violence, directed against certain sections of the population, that is prevalent in the state. India is presently under the rule of the Mob. This Mob enjoys particular immunity in the states run by the Bharatiya Janata Party (the parliamentary wing of the RSS) but states where it (BJP) is making a bid for power, are not immune either.
But why bother with facts and figures when rhetoric and propaganda can do its trick? On December 1, 2015, none less than Rajnath Singh, the country’s Home Minister and arguably the second or third most powerful politician, had defended his own government in the wake of the national and international horror and outrage over the lynchings that began in September 2015. Making a rather pathetic defence of his government, and the ruling party’s response to serious charges of facilitating a lawless atmosphere that gives a free hand to lumpens and criminals to commit brazen acts like the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq and the burning alive of two Dalit children at Sunpedh village (Haryana), Rajnath Singh claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Prime Minister were and are the “biggest victims” of intolerance. He most authoritatively said, that as per the reports filed by the Uttar Pradesh government, the events in the Dadri lynching case “had no communal angle.” “The word beef was not even mentioned” and even pre-meditation was difficult to establish, Rajnath Singh added.
Neo McCarthyism raises its ugly head in India
That, then is the crux of the matter. Those speaking of sanity, rule of law, inter-communal harmony, against hateful or inciteful speech are deemed ‘communal’ even ‘anti-national’ including Mahatma Gandhi! Interestingly, those in the politically well-oiled business of spreading hate, the supremacists, are dubbed the ‘patriots.’ In the map of the exclusionary, hate filled Hindu rashtra, blood in the name of faith is not death, murder or bloodshed but drawing the bloody borders of a militarised ‘motherland.’ No wonder then that the over 60 incidents of perpetrated violence in the state of UP are dubbed by its top cop who is mandated under his oath to the Indian Constitution to be wedded to egalitarianism and non-discrimination, to be ‘not communal.’ He is an ideological parrot of the proto-fascist ruling dispensation committed to an overthrow of the rule of law as outlined under Indian law and the Indian Constitution.
In fact, it can be argued that since the Modi government assumed power in New Delhi in May 2014, the climate of hate-mongering has allowed communal incidents to rise. Even in 2016 and 2015, the number of total incidents in the country were 703 and 751 respectively. During these years, the number of deaths were 86 and 97 respectively. In 2016, the state of UP had 162 incidents and 29 deaths. (Another set of figures presented to parliament showed that Uttar Pradesh, reported 195 communal incidents in 2017 in which 44 people were killed and 542 others were injured). While three of the states (UP, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan) with highest number of communal incidents are ruled by the BJP, one (Karnataka) is ruled by the Congress and one (West Bengal) by TMC. According to the data, the year 2017 has witnessed a total of 296 incidents of communal violence in the country so far. A total of 44 deaths have been reported. According to the MHA data, Rajasthan, which is also due for polls this year, recorded 91 communal incidents wherein 12 people were killed and 175 injured.
Why then the haste to deny that these incidents are ‘communal’ when the Indian home ministry’s collated data clearly says otherwise? At the bottom of this claim, be it the most powerful men in power at the centre or the top cop in the state, is the carefully orchestrated discourse of the ideological fountainhead of the party in power, both in Delhi and Lucknow, the RSS, has little regard for the objective truth is well-documented and known. It is a multi headed hydra that has a formidable well oiled machinery. It shelters itself under the guise of being a ‘cultural’ organisation and indulges in base level politics, including violence.
The DGP of India’s most populous state who also added that he has adopted the mantra of basic policing combined with an aggressive stand to “put pressure on criminal elements and those running organised gangs,” needs to be asked whether he at all considers the actions of the Romeo Squads, or the talwar and gun-trotting ABVP, or Bajrang Dal, or VHP, criminal (under prevalent Indian law) leave alone communal. If sharp and clear questions are put to him, we will probably get a chilling answer.
UP has also come under very sharp criticism for the spate in extra judicial killings that indicate utter unaccountability in the functioning of the state’s police force. We will now be also told that shooting dead those who have been killed is an act of ‘good governance.’
Feature Image by PTI (Representational Image)