The whole country must have seen the video of Kanwariyas demolishing a car when they got into some kind of scuffle with a car driver in the Moti Nagar area of Delhi. In a similar incident, the Kanwariyas also vandalised a police car and abused policemen in Bulandshar’s Bugrasi area of UP. While one of the main concerns is the reckless display of violence in such magnanimity, the crux of the problem is much worse: who gives them this power?
Firstly, the “condemnation” that one talks about in this context is hardly any condemnation at all. Most ministers/ politicians as well as common people are silent or ignorant of the issue. Secondly, the Kanwariya’s wardrobe itself gives them this power: anyone wearing saffron in this country could incite any form of violence, while feeling secure that they would be honoured for their acts or that they could walk out trouble-free. India has set examples in recent times where the murderer of Akhlaq was draped in tri-colour flag and honored with martyrdom by the community and the state. It has become a trend to show camaraderie to the rape-accused and lynch those the mob suspects/ perceives as wrong-doers as it happened in the cases of Kathua and Jayant Sinha respectively.
Thirdly, people tend to get an unflinching courage from the rapidly expanding hate propaganda in the country and selective reactions to such propaganda from the people in power. Many right wing groups and people have condemned these acts and said that these were the misdeeds of a few people that should not affect the image of Shiva Bhakts in particular, and Hindus in general. While I am actually in support of this logic, I fail to understand where this form of reasoning disappears when it comes to the Muslim community or other marginalized groups? The 9/11 aftermath depicts an unending hate propaganda against the Muslim community. In India, the 26/11 attacks amongst others have caused harm and disservice to the Muslim community at large. The wardrobe of a Muslim man is enough for the society to frame them as terrorists. We have seen that the likes of Mohd Aamir Khan are framed as terrorists; and it takes 14 years for them to just prove their innocence in court.
Fourthly, can we actually stop these kinds of pilgrimage walks or any religious activities under the suspicion of inciting violence? The answer most likely seems to be a ”NO”. Delhi is popular for several things – universities and students are one of them. The student community in Delhi since Feb 2015 is under a series of horrendous trials by the state’s machinery. Universities’ administrations and people in general are assuming that students are causing harm to India’s peace and harmony based on doctored videos alone. The students’ programmes, seminars, and conferences are cancelled and sabotaged on baseless grounds. If there is a fear, then why shouldn’t it be applied to these religious groups as well?
But the Kanwariyas are really not the Tukde Tukde Gang. The real onslaught of violence is portrayed by the state, specifically in making the police force completely incompetent and fearful of any action. We are living in times where someone like Gagandeep, who saved a Muslim boy from an angry mob, is really an exception, while the former description of the police is the dominant rule. The next obvious credit for this problem goes to our beautiful majority party which, in the name of development, provides protection to rapists, lynchers, and rioters.
We have already dismantled our Judiciary, while the Legislative is busy implanting their agendas instead of making any progress, and the Executive is trembling for their survival. We can’t miss the fourth pillar of democracy, the Media. They have an incredible and influential role in all the misdeeds, for deliberately pressing on the hate propaganda against students, activists, and civil society; highlighting the issues of Bollywood and the bizarre challenges more, while bombarding us with ‘positive news’ about the government in power. Lastly, the inefficiency and indecisiveness of the general public has become such an accepted fact. The ghastliness that is going on in the society is so normalized that it has become impossible to even discuss anything, let alone the part where taking action is required.
The actions of these Kanwaryis are absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable, but we need to be very precise and distinctive in identifying the roots of such violence. We are in a great danger because all that is going on in our country is clearly pointing to the 12 warning signs of fascism.