By AlbatrossInFlight on January 26, 2013
Scene 1: Sunday January 20th, Jaipur, Congress Chintan Shivir
“Ek taraf hum desh mein shanti banane ki koshish kar rahe hai, minorities per jo har waqt injustices hote hai woh bhi dekha jaaraha hai… lekin abhi beechmein humare paas yeh report aagaya hai, investigation mein, ke Bharatiya Janata Party ho, ya RSS ke ho, unke jo training camps hai, woh Hindu terrorsim badhane ka kaam dekh rahe hai”
[On the one hand we (Congress led-UPA Government at the Centre) are trying to maintain peace in the country, we are also looking into matters of injustice towards minority communities that occur all the time. But now, meanwhile, we have received reports through investigations that both BJP (India’s main Opposition party) and RSS (world’s largest voluntary organisation) are running training camps aimed at increasing Hindu terrorism (sic)… ] — India’s Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, addressing some 1,200 odd Congress party delegates in Jaipur.
This speech was beamed live to the world by assorted news channels present in Jaipur. The Indian Home Minister had just accused India’s democratic opposition party of being a terrorist outfit. By one stroke of genius, the Indian security establishment had told the world at large that Islamic terrorism was probably just a mirage and that the world should be more worried about Hindus who are committing all the terror activities on Indian soil (and probably elsewhere).
Let us try and understand the gravity of the situation. Imagine, if Theresa May, the British Home Secretary were to announce that the Labour Party was running terror camps and it was a terrorist organisation. Or, try and imagine if Thomas E Donilon, National Security Advisor to US President Barack Obama, were to announce to the world that the Republican Party was a terrorist organisation. There would be absolute outrage across the world. Such accusations without substantial proof would be considered an affront to the very basic principles of democracy.
What happened after the Indian Home Minister’s outrageous assertions? The world at large hardly took notice, except for Pakistan, which was jumping with joy. In India there were some murmurs about ‘the choice of words’ employed by the HM, but aside from that the editorial class and the intellectual brigade actually tended to agree that BJP was a terror outfit! The next day, the Congress actually reasserted that both BJP and RSS were Hindu terrorist organisations.
What does this tell us? It tells us how lax we are about our security, how the world will never again take us seriously and how all the human suffering due to genuine Islamist terrorism for so many decades now stands whitewashed. The next time there is a 26/11 type attack on Indian soil, the world will not listen to our protestations about cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan and would instead tell us to arrest BJP/RSS activists!
Yes, Hafiz Saeed congratulated the Indian Home Minister! His stand, that he was innocent all along and it was RSS/BJP who were responsible for all the terrorism on Indian soil stands vindicated today by the OFFICIAL position of the Indian Government.
Scene 2: Monday January 21, Prayag, on the banks of Sangam
A congregation of some 3000 odd Sadhus has reached the banks of Sangam very early in the morning for the holy dip. In this group are Sadhus belonging to Shirshasanis, who even sleep in a standing position by resting their heads on a vertical pole. While meditating, they stand on their heads. This is a very unique path to Nirvana and it has been practised for many centuries now. As per their belief, they can never let their entire vertical bodies to touch mother Earth. But this year they are facing a great difficulty in the Kumbh Mela.
As the Sadhus enter the Sangam, they find themselves standing in less than knee-deep water. It is customary to take a full-body dip in the water to complete the shahi snan. It is very difficult to take a full dip in these low water levels even in a squatting position. Therefore, many a times these days, the sadhus lie down on the riverbed to complete the parikrama, which goes against the ethos of Shirshasanis. The water in Sangam is also quite dirty and does not flow as freely as it did in the past — it is mostly stagnant water.
Uttar Pradesh Government is only releasing 2,500 cusecs of water into the Sangam during the festival. Tirth Maryada Rakhsa Samiti (TMRS) has been agitating for many days now against this decision of the UP Government. TMRS is agitating not only in Allahabad and Lucknow but also in Haridwar, requesting the Governments of UP and Uttarakhand to release more water into the Ganga for the Kumbh Mela. Members of TMRS have requested audience with the Chief Secretary of UP, Javed Usmani, but he has refused to meet them.
This year in Prayag, more than 100 million people are expected to take a holy dip in the Sangam. How will a paltry 2,500 cusecs be able to meet the demands of such a mass of humanity? Is the demand for more water by Hindu pilgrims an unjust one? It is not as if the Maha Kumbh is an annual event like a Haj (which, by the way, still gets Government subsidies), it is not even a quadrennial event like an Olympic or a Cricket World Cup. A Maha Kumbh is the largest human gathering in the world that only occurs once in 12 years.
Scene 3: January 18, Additional District and Sessions Court, Deeg, Bharatpur (about 100 miles from Congress Chintan Shivir):
Ashok Kumar Jain, the additional District and Sessions Court judge of Deeg, Bharatpur, declares Jalis Khan, the chief of Bharatpur’s Kaman Panchayat Samiti, as an absconder in the much publicised abduction and gang rape case of 2010. Khan happens to be the husband of Congress MLA Zahida Khan, who, as luck would have it, is also the general secretary of All India Mahila Congress, the apex body of female congress members in India.
This court decision ought to have been an important news item for an India that is still reeling under the impact of the Delhi gang rape and brutal murder of a 23-year-old woman. News media in India has been relentlessly highlighting, for many days non-stop, rape cases and societal reactions to rapes. Everybody from the Sarsanghchalak of RSS, Mohan Bhagwat, to spiritual guru Asaram Bapu has been targeted by the media for their insensitivity. In such a scenario, this gang rape by the husband of Congress party’s women’s wing’s general secretary could potentially be the biggest breaking news in 24/7 India.
To make matters even more convenient, there was a Congress Chintan Shivir (brainstorming session) happening just some 100 miles away from Bharatpur, the scene of the crime and the court judgement. A large posse of media personalities, journalists, news editors, reporters, cameramen and news anchors are all camped nearby in order to cover the Congress brainstorming session and report the news back to India. All these media personalities might very well have started salivating at this news of a gang rape verdict in a court just 100 miles from where they are currently located. This could produce compelling news packages and also get great TRPs. It could also potentially overshadow the Congress Chintan Shivir.
Over the next 5 days — including the 3 days of Congress Chintan Shivir — till today, there has been not a single mention on the gang rape case of Bharatpur in the media. Not one panel discussion, not one ‘nation-wants-answers’ debate, not one high-moral lecture by news anchors, not one editorial page outrage about a political rape and not even a single condemnation tweet. There is almost total secular silence on the entire matter, as if all of this had happened somewhere in Siberia. The same media which was outraging against mere statements, terming them insensitive, has maintained total silence on this actual act of debauchery!
In these 5 days, the braveheart of Delhi died all over again, each time with the same pain, the same agony and with the same questioning eyes asking: “Why this deathly silence?”
India unwired and disconnected
Sunday is a day when most news anchors in India are generally on a holiday (a rule that was not broken even after Delhi went berserk last month after the gang rape). It was on this day that Rahul Gandhi made his speech to the gathering at the Chintan Shivir. Every news anchor and journalist worth his salt cancelled their Sunday holiday and had hours of TV discussions/debates about the ‘momentous speech’ by the young prince.
Every nuance was appreciated, every teardrop was analysed. One could possibly even hear a sigh from certain news anchors. It was hailed as ‘India’s Obama moment’. Later, unconfirmed reports suggested that many journalists were actually crying when Rahul delivered his speech.
Lutyens’ Dilli, which did not shed a tear for all those homeless people dying in the Delhi winter, nor for the rape victim of Jalis Khan, was in tears listening to the dynastic sob story of power politics. This is the disconnect that India has been cursed with by an overarching secularist construct.
A molested policewoman writes an angst-ridden poem and there is condemnation across the nation for it might ‘hurt the sentiments’ of the rioters of Azad maidan. Two Armymen are killed and their bodies are mutilated by India’s mortal enemy and Indian journalists justify it by accusing our own Army of engaging in even worse behaviour. Our Home Minister proclaims to the world that Hindus are terrorists and that Muslims and minorities are suffering gross injustices in India. One must seriously wonder which India these media persons and Congress leaders are talking about. The one that we all live in?
Meanwhile, at the Sangam, the sadhus and pilgrims are still struggling to take a holy dip in knee-deep water in the cold winter mornings. if faith can move mountains, then it can possibly alter India’s Karmic cycle as well.
“My father was a brave man,” says Rahul Gandhi with feeling, “The hospital was dark, it was green and very dirty… as we entered, people were shouting, they were very angry. It was the first time in my life that I saw my father cry,” avers the young scion of India to his audience, explaining the scene of his grandmother’s death. Rahul then goes on to describe how his father (the then Prime Minister elect) went on to address the nation on TV/Radio despite his emotional loss. He is trying to educate congressmen about ‘hope’, using his own personal tragedy as an analogy.
Just a few hundred metres away from the scene that Rahul Gandhi so evocatively describes (as a dirty green hospital), men and women were being butchered in broad daylight. Hundreds of young Sikh boys were witnessing the beheading of their fathers and the gang raping of their mothers. Their India was as disconnected then, as it is now. In those dark days when India lost all its hope, Rahul Gandhi discovered hope. That hope, built on the dead bodies of thousands of Sikhs, has come back to haunt India in 2013.