15.9.12

India’s Baciles: Mad Haters Party



Mad Haters Party
by Farzana Versey
Counterpunch, Sept 14-16



Nothing can be more potent than ‘Sam Bacile does not exist’. It is the invisibility and the stories surrounding his identity that expose ingrained and acquired hatred like the word of god revealed. We should thank him, for he stands for the many hidden faces of animus.

Does hating the hater make us the hated by default?



A month ago, something happened a few kilometres away from my home. It was a Battle of Bacile. Invisible people. I said nothing. I did not exercise my freedom of speech, for such black upon white expressions that we see are selectively coddled. Political retribution is quick. Sheathed in apology, the dagger retains its shine. Hate can be bloodless.



“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” - Albert Camus



Our existence today is a dying flame. “Jalaa do, jalaa! Maa ki ch…t..” Burn, burn, you mother’s c..t. Over the din in the video, it sounded almost like a voice-over. Is this the new slogan of protest, cuss words without a credo?



Images of Mumbai were like torn posters on walls. On August 11, a part of Mumbai burned and those burning it wore skull caps. The two men who died also wore skull caps. 800 cops were lauded for observing restraint (a non sequitur, considering that they were dealing with 50,000 goons). The minute I heard Arup Patnaik, the Police Commissioner at the time, say that just when their fingers “were reaching for the trigger” he stopped them because “I was not afraid of the rioters. I was afraid of how my men would react as I could see in their eyes the same expression that I saw in my force during the 1992 riots”, I wondered if anyone realised that this was worse than hate speech.



It was a lie. It was the cops who targeted innocents in the riots in my city in 1992-93. They were standing atop asbestos roofs in slums and shooting people at random because these keepers of law and order were as incited as any mob to destroy. It was planned months ahead, brick by brick. The corporator of the local party had weapons stocked in his house. The police did little to help.



Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray gave public speeches that made derisive references to the circumcised Muslim penis. The crowd cheered and leered. His nephew was a quick learner and known to be as pushy. He split from the main party to form his own. The roots are the same. ‘Outsiders not allowed.’ The term outsider means different things at different times to seize the opportunity of the moment. 




A week after the Azad Maidan rally resulted in mayhem, the son-of-the-soil Raj Thackeray had his own little party where 40,000 people turned up. This was to protest against what happened that Saturday. His show was peaceful, say those who have never met irony before. This was not a mob. It was organised to clear the name of the party of original hate-mongers. They probably got instructions on how to stand, sit and whisper. Nothing was burned. They had done that in several places many times before. On that day, they had to send across a message, a message so lame that only those who need crutches of others to walk their thoughts would fall for.



They did. His speech was glorified. He became the messiah of Mumbai for those few hours. Like prostitutes, every form of political succour is provided by the hour. Secular commentators were talking about “giving credit where it is due”. A cop went up to him and handed him a rose, complimenting him for his brave stand, saying that he did not care about the consequences of his action. He was pronounced insane. This is a masterstroke: Insane saviours of society standing up for another form of insanity that fakes propriety.



The problem is that we do not wish to see beyond an act. It will be recycled so often and to such an extent that it loses all meaning. Tragedy, as happens often, is turning into farce and it does not feel the need to acknowledge history.


India got freedom from the century-old British colonial rule that cleaved the nation into two. The two became three and within these there are several movements either wanting to become independent of the nation state or to seek autonomy within it. Tribals are fighting for their lands. Castes are still burdened with carrying slippers to warn the superior ones of their presence. Local panchayats are deciding what people should wear and how they should behave.




Various parts of India are burning. News spreads, rumors fly, fear is a text message away. Is this really news? Those with erased memory are archiving every detail in screen-shots and shaky videos. Flames, gunshots, asylum, exodus. All Indian Muslims are told to go to Pakistan and a few Pakistani Hindus cross over.



Whenever there is trouble by or against Muslims, we bring in another alien force. Salman Rushdie’s example is used to underscore the “appeased minority” narrative. This digression lacks ingenuity, for Rushdie too is an appeased minority. If there are verbal attacks on him, then one must accept that his work might be considered hate speech by some.



“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” 

 – George Orwell (From ‘Animal Farm’)



According to popular belief every Muslim belongs to the Ummah. Those rebelling against this ‘brotherhood’ cannot imagine the possibility of rebellion and disparity within the Muslim community. Are there rebels at all, or merely products of incendiary ideas?





They raise their voices against an imagined uniform demon. “See, those Muslims want to speak up for their brothers everywhere.” What ethnic group or religious community has not raised its voice against slights directed at it? If Myanmar is far away for Indian Muslims, then what have Hindus and Christians from miles and cultures away got to do with the Middle East?



Are we to believe that protest is possible only within a circumference? It negates the nature of dissent.



It seems difficult for people to feel any pride in a nation’s achievements, but whip up a frenzy and then it might work. 

Two vandals desecrated the Martyr’s Memorial, a rifle-and helmet structure for Syed Hussain and Mangal Gadia, sepoys killed by the British during India’s First War of Independence in 1857. It was installed 142 years later in 2009, and 55 years after independence. 




The two young men who destroyed the symbol were “most wanted” and arresting them became the first priority of the police. It was four days away from Independence Day; national pride in fibre glass. A senior official said, “They have hurt the sentiments of the entire nation. They must be arrested on priority.” It is a structure barely noticed by people. Curiously, he spoke to the media “on condition of anonymity”. Why did he wish to remain anonymous when it was a matter of national honour? Who is the Sam Bacile here?



Do the sentiments of a nation dwell in mute memorials? In fact, memorials of the Holocaust and Hiroshima exhibit acquired angst. We are merciless towards that which we remember



Transpose this with the recent cartoon controversy where a member of the India Against Corruption group drew images insulting to the national emblem, Mother India, the Indian Constitution, and Parliament. Most liberals thought it was acceptable, and asked how different it was from those who humiliate the institutions of democracy. If we extend this logic, then Afzal Guru, an Indian from Kashmir, who is on death row for plotting a bomb attack on Parliament could also be seen as an extreme exercise in freedom of expression, to send across a message.



Where do we draw the line and does it then transform democracy into dictatorship? We do agree there are certain limits, and those apply to everyone. When a wannabe hero seeks the martyrdom of shackles, like any terrorist shaheed, he is insulting freedom and not making any profound statement in a society that gives you liberty.



Too much is made of sedition and treason, viewed as a Judas-like repugnancy. Why were those who protested against the treatment of Assam’s Muslims not seen as nationalists, even though they were drawing attention to the condition of people within the Indian state? The North East that has been neglected by the Centre became the flavour of the season. In what can be described as canny manoeuvring, just when the ‘exodus’ forced people of North East origin working and living in other states to, interestingly, return home, those few Pakistani Hindus were seeking asylum in India.



It is the nature of such junk food political opportunism that these vital issues are now as stale as last month’s recycled joke. 



“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.” 

- Andre Gide



We cannot watch Bacile from the corner of the eye, for he is not there. But security agencies use their imagination in frightening ways. Fear causes fear.



A while ago, the poet Mirza Ghalib was accused of inciting violence among members of SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), a banned organisation with this verse:



“Mauje khoon ser se guzer hi kiyon na jay,

Aastane yaar se uth jaein kaya!”





The Maharashtra police’s affidavit quoted it as implication that it encouraged bloodshed. Khalid Mehmood, head of Jamia Millia Islamia’s Urdu department, transliterated it as “Whatever be the circumstances, we will not leave the place (country or home of the beloved) even if our heads are chopped off…”.



Even if the poetry was about bloodshed, as are many works of art and literature, would it be considered inspiration to hate and hurt after all these years? Does hate evolve into more hate? “Who says the Quran is a religion of peace?” they ask. It is not. It was created by the sword, as were all other religions – whether it was to fight an enemy for the good of humankind or force oneself into austerity to reach self-awareness. Such denial does show contempt for what is natural about the human body and its needs as much as slaying the opponent or believing in superiority.



Such elitism drags in the underworld or the foreign hand. It degrades the larger social discourse regarding mob mentality.



Hate speech is a rather difficult term to define.



Praveen Togadia of the rightwing RSS said:

“Ten tribal students from Assam attacked by Muslims in Pune. Attackers shouted, ‘Revenge for Kokrazar'. What if 100 crore Hindus shout the same?”



He is using ten against the entire Hindu population. This is part of the supremacy of race discourse where one person assumes it is all right to speak on behalf of the whole race.



Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi did something similar when he made a statement in Parliament:

“If proper rehabilitation does not take place, you be ready for a third wave of radicalization among Muslim youth…”


At a rally by godman Baba Ramdev, former Army Chief Gen (retd) V K Singh talked about “tough action” if corruption is not dealt with. “Ex-servicemen should come forward and take over the mantle.”



India prides itself in keeping the army away from political decisions. His statement displays his loathing for civilian rule. Around the time he was gloating about armymen “trained as leaders”, a group of jawans were protesting outside the houses of officers against their mistreatment.




16 years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the riots that followed, the Central Bureau of Investigation challenged a High Court judgement and indicted the senior-most leader of the rightwing BJP, L.K.Advani:



“Before the demolition started and during the course of demolition, various accused persons including the eight named in the FIR of crime no. 198/92, made provocative slogans from the manch (dais) causing the assembly to turn unlawful resulting in rioting and storming of the structure by the kar sevaks. As and when the domes fell, the accused leaders and others on the manch celebrated the same by clapping, hugging each other and distributed sweets on the manch which was at a visible distance of 175 metres from the disputed structure. All the offences of shouting of provocative slogans creating enmity between two communities, affecting national integration as well as the demolition of the structure and assault on media persons not to create (sic) record of what was going on, formed part of the same transaction and could not be separated from each other.”



This is the political party that may well return to power in the next general elections in India. No one seems particularly concerned. In discussions, this crucial evidence of culpability is not mentioned.




During the Gujarat riots of Feb 28, 2002, the chief minister told his police officers to let the local Hindus "vent their anger". Narendra Modi is glorified in the international media. He appears on the cover of Time magazine. The latest is Forbes India that asks, “Is he a necessary evil?” Indeed, it reveals the nature of abhorrence.



It is a matter of sustainability that begs the questions: Are all forms of dissent democratic? Does permissive democracy always mean true freedom?



In a democracy of contrived opposition, hate cannot be expunged. The individual identity is lost in the hyperbole of hordes.



---

(c) Farzana Versey

15 comments:

  1. FV,

    QUOTE: "... many hidden faces of animus."

    I think it is time now for people to stand up and own their actions, whether it is Mr Bacile (spellcheck!) or Mr Rushdie. The murderous fanatics of the Azad Maidan kind have been indulged and mollycuddled for too long. A murderer is a murderer. It does not matter whether he wanted to (dis)honour some Prophet or to rob the gold in victim's teeth.
    ----------
    QUOTE: "... this was worse than hate speech."

    Agree in part. The capitulation was in fact, worse than the vicious sekulaar vote bank politics because it was being demonstrated by the police chief who should have spared no one when it came to the honour and rights of the men and women serving under him. The guy simply showed himself up to be a coward, scared of some politician's votes being lost in the peaceful melee created by the skull-capped angels!
    ---------
    Raj Thackeray is only as good or as bad as any politician. As expected, you have singled him out for a vitriol bath because some Muslims happen to be at the receiving end of his barbs. It is ridiculous to equate him with the fang-in-mouth Owaisi who threatened of "radicalisation" (Read: If there are bomb blasts, expect me to condemn them and then take off about root causes)
    ---------
    QUOTE: "Castes are still burdened with carrying slippers to warn the superior ones of their presence."

    I agree that this is an evil that Hinduism has so far failed to eliminate. But at the same time, I have full faith in the assimilative and adaptive capacity of Hinduism, unparalleled by any other religions. Things will change and certainly so. Until then, I stand with my Hindu brothers facing discrimination on account of caste, a despicable factor beyond their control and increasingly irrelevant.
    ---------
    QUOTE: "The problem is that we do not wish to see beyond an act.... Tragedy... does not feel the need to acknowledge history."

    Hmm... Will I be condemned as death-worthy communal Hindu if I said 'Godhra' or 'Mathadi murders' or 'Radhabai Chawl' or 'Pandit genocide' or 'Partition massacres' or 'Forced Conversions to Islam' or 'Mughal atrocities' here?

    For the moment, I will not not mention 'Love jehad' because I am not sure of the facts of the case.
    ---------
    QUOTE: "... the possibility of rebellion and disparity within the Muslim community"

    Really? Against what? Against whom? Have you heard of any rebellion against the blasphemy laws, or against forced conversions or against the Ilsamic apartheid, or against the death penalty for conversion out of Islam?

    Talk about acknowledging history and seeing beyond acts!

    ReplyDelete
  2. (continued)

    FV,

    You are quoting the CBI report about BJP leaders being guilty due to their "clapping and looking happy" at Babri demolition. I get an impression that you agree with the inference.

    Does the same test of guilt apply to people clapping at Pakistan's victory in a cricket match? Does the logic also apply to people questioning the Batla encounter in which a police officer died?

    I am merely asking, not assuming. I am also not very hopeful of getting a straight answer.
    ----
    Your vengefully presumptive views about Modi are nothing new and hence do not need a response. I have no idea at all if Modi is guilty or not. But the sekulaar camp is DEFINITELY guilty of bias and prejudice - perhaps born out of their cold fear of Jehadi murderers who relish killing on camera and crying Allah-hu-akbar.


    Btw, The 'evil' that Forbes talks about is Modi's governance in last 10 years, not some ancient riots which somehow are more important to the sekulaar peacenics than innumerable other riots before and after them! Suit yourselves, Sirs!
    -----
    QUOTE: "Are all forms of dissent democratic?"

    Yes. As long as nobody is killed. Hurt feelings are no excuse for murder. Applies to mortals, angels, djinns and Prophets alike.

    ReplyDelete
  3. (continued)

    FV,

    You are quoting the CBI report about BJP leaders being guilty due to their "clapping and looking happy" at Babri demolition. I get an impression that you agree with the inference.

    Does the same test of guilt apply to people clapping at Pakistan's victory in a cricket match? Does the logic also apply to people questioning the Batla encounter in which a police officer died?

    I am merely asking, not assuming. I am also not very hopeful of getting a straight answer.
    ----
    Your vengefully presumptive views about Modi are nothing new and hence do not need a response. I have no idea at all if Modi is guilty or not. But the sekulaar camp is DEFINITELY guilty of bias and prejudice - perhaps born out of their cold fear of Jehadi murderers who relish killing on camera and crying Allah-hu-akbar.


    Btw, The 'evil' that Forbes talks about is Modi's governance in last 10 years, not some ancient riots which somehow are more important to the sekulaar peacenics than innumerable other riots before and after them! Suit yourselves, Sirs!
    -----
    QUOTE: "Are all forms of dissent democratic?"

    Yes. As long as nobody is killed. Hurt feelings are no excuse for murder. Applies to mortals, angels, djinns and Prophets alike.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your characterization of the Amar Jawan Jyothi as "empty glass" otherwise unimportant in the final scheme of things, which is nothing but an attempt to trivialize the hateful destruction of it by your brave young men - says a lot about you. In fact the whole article says a lot about you. There really is not much difference between the brave young men of yours who broke those empty glasses and yourself, except that they lack the requisite skills at the English language and cannot afford a 100 rupee coffee. People like you make one lose faith in the premise that most Indian muslims are as patriotic citizens of the country as anybody, and that it is a only small minority amongst them that is anti-national. In fact the opposite seems to be true.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Red-Devil:

    Did you ever see this memorial before? How many people were aware of it? Does it bother you that one of the brave jawaans was Muslim?

    And people will talk of freedom of speech of some cartoonist when he insults the Indian Constitution.

    I can drink any coffee I want so long as I pay my taxes. Oh, it goes against your "illiterate, poor Muslim" who need to be demonised and hand out scraps. Give it a rest.

    I make assumptions about events and people responsible for them, not individuals who I do not know.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sharing...

    What a fitting reply to the stereotypes. In this case, Gawker slams Newsweek's cover story on 'Muslim Rage' with its own 13 examples.

    http://gawker.com/5943828

    Oh, but these are exceptions...yadda yadda, I can hear. Yeah. So are terrorists. Lump it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can understand your dissonance FV. My sympathises.

    The ingrained values of religious exclusivism and pseudo-ethnic superiorism (based on fantastical accounts), internalized victimhood, and sense of entitlement for divine and temporal entitlement; has apparently confabulated the reality.

    To protect this esteemed self-core, it becomes important that the jarring reality be negated, deflected, distributed, normalized and concluded to reinforce the original belief. Your a article: a good example.

    While this a phenomenon occurs in almost all individuals and a social groups, it is the increasing self-conviction in one’s own profundity that leads to dogmatization of belief: a ergo - insularity, decay, neurosis and affliction.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Anon:


    The ingrained values of religious exclusivism and pseudo-ethnic superiorism (based on fantastical accounts), internalized victimhood, and sense of entitlement for divine and temporal entitlement; has apparently confabulated the reality.

    Are you from JNU? The verbosity is so prosaic.

    I've said what I had to say. You read how you wish to read.

    No need to sympathise. I pity linearity in perception. Wish you could break out of it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. F&F:

    Part 1

    {The murderous fanatics of the Azad Maidan kind have been indulged and mollycuddled for too long.}

    The rioters at Azad Maidan vandalised property and misbehaved with cops/media persons. They were not murderers. The two who were killed were part of the mob.

    Does it not surprise anyone that the rioters came in later? Incidentally, arrests were quick & some wrongfully. Check the papers.

    When I said "... this was worse than hate speech" it was followed up with the active role of cops in 92-93. Trust you to limit it to Azad Maidan and "the vicious sekulaar vote bank politics"

    {"Raj Thackeray is only as good or as bad as any politician. As expected, you have singled him out for a vitriol bath because some Muslims happen to be at the receiving end of his barbs}

    Perhaps you are taking up for him because of those barbs that I did *not* go to town with.

    {I have full faith in the assimilative and adaptive capacity of Hinduism, unparalleled by any other religions….Until then, I stand with my Hindu brothers facing discrimination on account of caste, a despicable factor beyond their control and increasingly irrelevant.}

    Good. But if it is beyond their control, why have they not been assimilated in the unparalleled religion?

    {Hmm... Will I be condemned as death-worthy communal Hindu if I said 'Godhra' or 'Mathadi murders' or 'Radhabai Chawl' or 'Pandit genocide' or 'Partition massacres' or 'Forced Conversions to Islam' or 'Mughal atrocities' here?}

    I thought you lived in a democracy. No one is denying any of these. I won’t go into specifics. We know that no single group is responsible.

    {QUOTE: "... the possibility of rebellion and disparity within the Muslim community"

    Really? Against what? Against whom? Have you heard of any rebellion against the blasphemy laws, or against forced conversions or against the Ilsamic apartheid, or against the death penalty for conversion out of Islam?}

    We are talking about India here. As regards others, the very act to dissent, which they do, that is why more Muslims are killed, because, guess what, they are Muslim majority states. Do you get that?

    ....contd

    ReplyDelete
  10. F&F:

    Part 2

    {You are quoting the CBI report about BJP leaders being guilty due to their "clapping and looking happy" at Babri demolition. I get an impression that you agree with the inference.
    Does the same test of guilt apply to people clapping at Pakistan's victory in a cricket match? Does the logic also apply to people questioning the Batla encounter in which a police officer died?
    I am merely asking, not assuming. I am also not very hopeful of getting a straight answer.}

    The straight answer is I can’t believe that you equate a cricket match applause with that which is planned and executed with the purpose of creating discord, with a senior political leader taking out a rath yatra, and giving incendiary speeches. The BJP leaders did not stop at clapping.

    Are you exonerating what happened after that? The killings? Of course you do. Look at this:

    {Your vengefully presumptive views about Modi are nothing new and hence do not need a response. I have no idea at all if Modi is guilty or not. But the sekulaar camp is DEFINITELY guilty of bias and prejudice - perhaps born out of their cold fear of Jehadi murderers who relish killing on camera and crying Allah-hu-akbar.}

    Oh, so what did those shouting Jai Bajrang Bali mean? Stop this passive-aggressive, “I am a proud Hindu but don’t like blah blah”. You are as biased as anyone else. If my views on Modi are presumptive, then so are those of the court cases, the eye-witness accounts and those who were killed, who lost their homes, their jobs. Yes, it is not worth replying to because you are in denial.

    {Btw, The 'evil' that Forbes talks about is Modi's governance in last 10 years, not some ancient riots which somehow are more important to the sekulaar peacenics than innumerable other riots before and after them! Suit yourselves, Sirs!

    So, bring out your calculator. And give examples of the bog riots in India and who got killed in them. Count. Count.}

    You have no clue about dissent. You are just following one train of thought. So, you suit yourself.

    And don’t you dare talk about my vengeance only to prop up some weak arguments.

    END

    ReplyDelete
  11. A request: If you are posting long comments, do save them before clicking. I may not always be able to retrieve them due to human error (which need not be "sekular" sleight of hand) or auto prob.

    Some are posted late because they are in spam. I did not realise my comments above did not get posted. Luckily, they were still in the Word file.

    Of course, the moderation will continue, but saving them might help you if you decide to get inspired enough here and go elsewhere with it...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Few points :

    #1. Clapping for a cricketing team from a country that is the enemy of what is supposedly your own country and which has made it a matter of national policy to bleed your own supposed country by a thousand cuts - shows your mentality.

    #2. Vandalizing a memorial built in the honor of the soldiers who died fighting for your supposed country, regardless of how inexpensive or commonplace or ordinary looking that memorial may be - fact is - it is a sign of respect for the soldiers of your country and destroying it shows what you think of your supposed country and what you think of its soldiers who fight for it. Again, it shows your mentality.

    #3. Justifying, condoning #1 and #2 says a lot about your mentality. And your loyalties.

    Have a nice day.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Before discussing my mentality, read what is written and in reply to what. I need to prove nothing, least of all my loyalties, to anyone.

    ReplyDelete
  14. FV,

    There are photos of Narendra Modi (most politicians, in fact) lighting inaugural lamps, playing with kids, honouring social workers, attending cultural programmes, relaxing with family and friends etc.

    If you went through the family albums of most of those convicted for Gujarat 2002 (or any other) riots, you will probably find pictures of them getting married, going to colleges, having fun with pals, posing in front of Taj Mahal etc.

    Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab too may be having childhood photo albums stashed away somewhere inside their houses.

    Will that be sufficient to get them a "clean chit", so to speak?

    Forced to ask this question because you seem to be figuratively grinning as if the pictures at your link are the evidence that ends the issue decisively!

    Should I mail you the picture of me striking a (sekulaar)pose in front of Jama Masjid? (I did not go inside, btw!)

    ReplyDelete
  15. F&F:

    I said those pictures rebutted the stereotypes, not that they could be held up in a court of law as evidence. We are anyway not talking about crime, but criminalising as a pattern.

    Oh, I can see you striking a 'pose'! (Even if you went inside the masjid, I would not insist they wash the place. In fact, you could recite the Hanuman chalisa there. Just spell it right.)

    ReplyDelete

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