Stop Peddling War and Hate


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From the mouths of politicians, the daily ‘news’ bulletins from television media, a war on our collective intelligence and humanity has been declared. It had been declared long ago – when Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was branded ‘anti-national’ for supporting adivasis in their struggle against landgrab by Essar; when Aamir Khan was branded unpatriotic for speaking out about the climate of fear being fostered by the ruling party and government against minorities; when Rohith Vemula was branded ‘anti-national’ for his anti-communal activism; when JNU students were accused of ‘sedition.’ Now, after the attack on a military base in Uri and the retaliatory ‘surgical strike’, that war on intelligence and dissent has intensified. It has been declared ‘unpatriotic’ to ask questions of the Government; to seek transparency about the Government’s claims and military actions; to suggest that peace is a necessary and valuable goal between India and Pakistan; to admire Pakistani cultural artists or writers; to speak about the atrocities that continue against Kashmir; to burn effigies of the Prime Minister.

The current climate of war-mongering has many dangerous effects that we need to recognise and resist.

Taking India A Step Closer to ‘Hindu Rashtra’

The Government and BJP war-mongering rhetoric is different from common, garden-variety jingoism. It has taken on distinct, deliberate, ominous ‘Hindu nationalist’ overtones.

The Prime Minister, at a Vijaydashami function in Lucknow, the capital of poll-bound UP, posed with a variety of Hindu mythological weapons – the ‘Gada’, the ‘bow and arrow’, the ‘Sudarshan chakra.’ He invoked the slogan of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ (Victory to Lord Rama, the slogan BJP coined during the Ram Mandir campaign in the 1990s) in the context of combating terrorism. If Modi gave the ‘war on terror’ rhetoric a Hindutva flavour, his Defence Minister Manohar Parrikkar went a step further. He equated the Indian Army with Hanuman, the mythical monkey warrior from the Ramayana, and declared that RSS teachings had inspired the surgical strikes. Not so subtly, ‘Muslim’ Pakistan is being equated with ‘evil’ and ‘Hindu’ India with the ‘good.’

Significantly, at Dadri, the dead body of a man accused of lynching Akhlaque to death over ‘beef’ was draped in the Indian flag. No Minister, no BJP leader protested that this was a misuse and disrespect of the flag, which is usually draped on the bodies of soldiers. By defining patriotism as killing ‘Pakistanis’ and ‘terrorists’, the Government, BJP and RSS are not-so-subtly encouraging the notion that killing Indian Muslims who are accused of ‘eating beef’ or ‘killing cows’ is also patriotism.

Add to this Modi’s comparison of the surgical strike with the ‘valorous’ exploits of the Israel Army. Israel is a Jewish nation, an occupying power in Palestine. The comparison of India with Israel is not a casual one. Parallels with Zionism are nothing new for the RSS, which likes to imply that India is a Hindu nation just as Israel is a Jewish one, and that both Israel and India have to battle against evil Islamic terrorist ‘neighbours.’ Just as Palestine ‘belongs’ to Israel in the Zionist imagination, Pakistan ‘belongs’ to Akhand Bharat (Undivided/Greater India) in the RSS imagination.

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