By Amulya Ganguli
The ghoulish glee expressed in the celebratory tweets put out by Hindu “patriots” over the journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder in Bengaluru, underlines the insane hatred against what a saffronite calls “Leftist, Naxal sympathizer, anti-establishment and anti-Hindu” people.
Although assassination of political adversaries is not the monopoly of the Hindu Right, it is doubtful if the killers identified with, say, the Maoists or the CPI(M) or any other party would have gloated over their “achievement” as the saffron lobby has done, although there is a Marxist minister in Kerala, MM Mani, who openly boasted in 2012 how his party had eliminated its political opponents.
But the abusive tweets against critics have come to be associated in recent years mainly with the Hindutva camp. To make matters worse, it has now come to light that none other than Prime Minister Modi himself peruses these outpourings of hate on his Twitter timeline, although the BJP has quickly pointed out that reading such material does not mean giving a character certificate to the writer.
What the non-partisan observer might have expected, however, was that Narendra Modi would come out strongly against such scurrilous writings just as he once wanted the parents of adolescents to discipline their boys, too, and not only the girls.
Since few in positions of authority have spoken out unambiguously against the venomous content of the tweets, the disgraceful propensity of the writers has been spreading like wild fire.
It is only after the noxious tweets on the journalist’s murder became widely known that the Union law minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, criticized the trolls only to be criticized in return by the latter. The riposte made the minister change his tune by asking why those who are “rightly angry” over the journalist’s murder were silent over the killings of the RSS workers in Kerala.
While the deaths in Kerala, as in West Bengal in the 1960s, are part of a vicious cycle of inter-party violence in which both sides suffer, Gauri Lankesh’s assassination, like those of Narendra Dhabolkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi, are targeted killings carried out either by party cadres or contract killers against ideological opponents.
What the assassinations of this nature underline is a fascistic rejection of dissenting voices. The singling out of critics for elimination is not only meant to silence one person, but also to send a message to all dissenters that unless they hold their tongue, or put away their pens and laptops, they may not survive.
It is obvious that such carefully planned tactics of intimidation and murder which are intended to drive fear into the hearts of those who oppose a given ideological line cannot be the handiwork of isolated individuals, whether deranged or acting in concert with a few others.
As the deaths of Dhabolkar and others over several years show, there is an organization which is behind the killings, which is not short of funds and indoctrinated members willing to take the risk of detection and legal punishment.
At the same time, as none of the killers has yet been caught, it would appear that they enjoy the protection of an effective support system which, in turn, must have been built up over years and is capable of providing secure hideouts where the killers can stay till the storm blows over.
There is little doubt that these assassins are different from, say, the gaurakshaks who are also ideologically motivated but act at random, often in full view of cameras. The Supreme Court’s orders, therefore, for stern action against them are likely to yield results. Besides, they do not seem to enjoy the overt support of the saffron establishment. As such, they are more vulnerable at present than before.
But the killers of those who are perceived as “anti-Hindu” belong to a different category. As the tweets in their favour show, they operate in a favourable ecosystem where they feel that they are on the right path.
Such psychotic groups have existed for a long time. Before the advent of the social media, they used to send “hate mail” to the anti-Hindus, usually in handwritten postcards or letters in envelopes. It was customary for them not only to advise their targeted opponents to go to Pakistan, but also make vulgar allusions to their female relatives.
An intense anti-Muslim sentiment is the distinguishing feature of these foul-mouthed groups. Any interaction with the less sophisticated followers of the BJP will reveal their deep animus towards the minorities.
Unlike in the days of the hate mail, they are not only abusive, but also flaunt a distorted version of ancient and modern Indian history which depicts the Muslims in the darkest of hues.
As is known, these elements have always been there. The only difference between the earlier decades and the present is that they have been emboldened beyond measure by the BJP’s ascent to power. (IPA Service)