"Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko." This is one of the many such incendiary slogans chanted by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) workers at a North Campus rally held on Thursday.
Go ahead! Nominate a Nathuram Godse amongst you to shoot them all, hang them at public squares, threaten rape. And you if you can't pull the trigger yourself, put a bounty on their head; just like a RSS worker did on Thursday when he announced a reward of Rs one crore for Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan's head.
But first, we need to decide who the real gaddars (traitors) of India are; who are the real enemies, of not just this great nation, but of humanity?
For starters, here is what President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday, on the idea of India and its educational institutions: "They must reverberate with creativity and freethinking. They should promote free exchange of views and free expression of thought,"
"We have celebrated diversity. We have never attempted to constrain it, any attempt to replace diversity with uniformity has failed," Mukherjee said at an event on Thursday. He went on to castigate the culture of intolerance in India.
In essence, the president reminded us that India was founded on principles of tolerance, diversity, creativity, free-thinking, freedom of expression and the right to dissent and debate.
So, who then is trying to destroy the basic tenets of the 'idea of India'? Who is muzzling free-thinking, denying fellow countrymen the right to speak freely, disagree and debate? Who is trying to silence independent voices with threats of rape, violence and by using the might of a pliant state?
Who is the real gaddar of India?
India doesn't get weakened when a 20-year-old college student, Gurmehar Kaur, rises above her personal loss, biases and hatred, and speaks up for peace; when she rightly points out that soldiers are killed-in-action because nations fight each other, caught in a vortex of violence and hatred, and not because of the enemy (in this case, Pakistan).
In fact, a nation becomes stronger when people like Kaur show their courage of conviction, stand up for peace and harmony, and fight for ideals and principles they hold close to heart. It shows that India still has people with a conscience, critical thinking and integrity, the pre-requisites for robust growth of humanity.
India gets weakened from within when pseudo-nationalists attack its founding principles like termites. When students resort to thuggery, to disallow others to express their opinion, proving how their minds are closed to new ideas and opinions and that their education – and thus intellectual growth – has stopped.
When chants like ''goli maaro saalon ko" replace civilised, nuanced debates; when doctored videos are used to hound rivals and to brand them as anti-nationals; when wielding a jhanda (National Flag) and shouting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' become the defining traits of a nationalist; such tendencies become the real threat to India... their perpetrators are the real traitors.
Unfortunately, the current lot of 'traitors' is not just destroying India from within but also attacking the core values of civilisation. In their rabid fury, they are inflicting incalculable harm on principles of equality and justice – the two ideas that shape free, fair and fearless societies.
During his speech, Mukherjee pointed out that the acid test of any society is its attitude towards women and children. "I do not consider a society or state to be civilised if its citizens' behaviour towards women is uncivilised. When we brutalize a woman, we wound the soul of our civilisation," he said.
Consider how these traitors to humanity treated two women during the recent debate in Delhi University. First, they denied Shehla Masood a platform to express her opinion. Then, when Kaur stood up against their goonda-ism, they trolled her, tried to silence her voice with rape threats and jokes mocking her ideals and her father's death.
The defining moment of this cacophony of traitors was the concerted attack by ministers and parliamentarians of the ruling dispensation, questioning her ability to think and speak up independently, comparing her with Dawood Ibrahim. So much for respecting a woman and her rights.
In an Indian Express report, Pratap Bhanu Mehta argues that the Right is actually subverting institutes of higher learning. He writes: "... there is the organised attempt to delegitimise what remains of the public university system. An organised pattern is emerging. Use the 'JNU pretext', as it is now called, to unleash the ABVP or, in some cases, university administrations, to harass, intimidate and engage in violence."
This, Mehta argues, is being done to create a conflict and then use it politically. Mehta fears the demise of the Central universities because of the way the Right is asserting itself.
The ABVP and its ideological mentors are attacking the core foundations of India – diversity, debate, dissent and freedom. They are attacking the basic principles of civilisation, of treating women with respect and equality. And, by becoming a political tool, they are destroying the very system – public universities – they claim to protect.
Who then is the real traitor? Perhaps the ABVP should keep a few mirrors handy when it chants the next time: 'Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko'.
Published Date: Mar 03, 2017 13:20 PM | Updated Date: Mar 03, 2017 13:43 PM