Indira Gandhi had a perfect explanation for everything that went wrong in India during her tenure: It was a conspiracy of India's foreign enemies.
During Indira's time, enemies came in different forms. They were Pakistanis, imperialists, capitalists and even the CIA. And together they got the flak for everything that Indira did not like.
When Indira imposed Emergency on the country, spooked by an agitation of students that drew out Jai Prakash Narayan from retirement, she justified it by saying her government was foiling a conspiracy against the nation that was backed foreign enemies of India.
So, when she jailed politicians from across the political divide, imposed censorship on the Press, banned strikes and demonstrations, Indira effectively meant this: All these people and institutions could have played into the hands of foreign enemies and destabilised India.
Indira's template lives on four decades after the Emergency. Her ghost continues to speak through the very people who she had jailed, called a threat to national security.
On Sunday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, one of India's most respected politicians, internationalised the slogan-shouting in the JNU by saying it had the blessings of terrorist Hafiz Sayeed.
"I also want to make it clear that the JNU incident has the support of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed. We should also understand this reality that Hafiz Saeed has supported this incident and it is extremely unfortunate," he told the media.
Singh's statement came within hours after a tweet from an unverified account in the name of Hafiz Saeed. "We request our Pakistani Brothers to trend #SupportJNU for our pro-Pakistani JNUites brothers." It also exhorted JNU students to come to Pakistan for spreading the anti-India in its universities.
It is amusing to note that "Hafiz Saeed" is now willing to fight his silly war on Twitter and use hashtags to attack India. Better that then sending fidayeens across the border.
If only it were true.
According to a report in the Indian Express, the home minister's statement was based on a fake Twitter account. Intelligence and police sources, however, told The Indian Express they had no evidence that the tweet in question was issued by the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief or an individual connected to him.
Saeed denied tweeting from that account. He even took potshots at the Indian government for taking a parody account seriously.
After being panned on social media for getting misled by a fake Twitter account, the home ministry later clarified that the statement was based on intelligence inputs.
Rajnath Singh is a politician of unquestionable integrity, his public life has been unblemished and non-controversial. He inspires both respect and admiration even among rivals and critics, which is not something that can be said about many other politicians. When he says something, as Firstpost editor Ajay Singh argues, it must be taken seriously.
So, it is quite possible that Hafiz Saeed is indeed fomenting trouble in one of India's premier educational institutes and influencing its students, who are among India's best minds and talents.
But, isn't this a great cause for concern? Shouldn't India be worried that Hafiz Saeed now has the power and the means to cause unrest in India's top varsities right under the nose of the government?
It is a cause for serious concern. And this is precisely why the government should tell us more about why it thinks some JNU students are puppets in the hands of the LeT. Saying that the fear is based on intelligence inputs just wouldn't wash. It will sound like an ode to Indira's policy of blaming everything on the enemies of the state.
Writing for The Telegraph, Mukul Kesavan argues that the government's response to the events in JNU verges on the insane. "The BJP's response to radical student activism, whether it is Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad or Kanhaiya Kumar in JNU, is uncannily like the fearful, vengeful reaction of Krishna's wicked uncle. The Krishna story shows us two ways of dealing with unbiddable youth: the love and nurture supplied by his foster mother on the one hand and the fearsome, but ultimately futile, use of power by his uncle on the other.
"In our story, Kanhaiya's mother, Meena Devi, who worked her fingers to the bone to give her son an education that she and her husband didn't have, is obviously Yashoda. The question we should all ask is why are so many in the BJP auditioning for the role of Kansa?""
There are several other unanswered questions about the episode.
There is indeed something fishy about the happenings at JNU. It has conspiracy written all over it from the very beginning. There are too many claims and counterclaims, videos, fake tweets and rumours floating around.
Who were the students shouting pro-Pakistan slogans? Will that won't be too difficult to find out if they are visible on HD videos? Identify them, check their antecedents, ask them a few polite questions and we'd know. It won't take long, will it?
Where did the Hafiz Saeed tweet originate from? Who circulated it? Would that be too difficult to know in the age of widespread electronic snooping?
And, of course, what is the extent of Hafiz Saeed's influence on our young minds?
Blaming everything on foreign-based anti-India forces could be good rhetoric. But, as Indira found out later, crying wolf will not satisfy the collective conscience of the nation eager to know who are the real villains of the JNU drama.
For god's sake, we can't be a dumb republic that frames it policies on the basis of fake tweets.
If that be the case, khuda (god) is the only hafiz (protector) of this country now.
First Published On : Feb 16, 2016 07:40 IST