Thursday, 13 October 2016


The escalating climate of war-mongering and hate in the wake of the Uri attack and the retaliatory strike announced by the Indian Government is a matter of great concern that is fuelling campaigns of communal hate and censorship in India.
The media is bending over backwards when asked to kneel by the Government. There are shameful instances of self-censorship by the media, where criticism of the Government’s lack of transparency when it comes to the surgical strike as well as its blatant attempts to draw political mileage from the strike is being censored by media houses in the name of ‘national interest.’
Amplifying the muscle-flexing by the Modi Government, influential sections of the corporate media is playing dangerous war games, calling upon Indians to boycott of Pakistani cultural artists who fail to publicly condemn their Government. The irony is that Indian cultural figures who have in the past couple of years spoken out against the Indian Government’s intolerance – and those who have spoken up courageously against war-mongering - have been attacked as ‘anti-national’ by the ruling party and Sangh Parivar! Celebrated director MS Sathyu (whose classic Garam Hawa is one of the most powerful films on the Partition) was attacked in Indore recently by an RSS outfit for opposing the call to boycott Pakistani artists and calling for peace between Pakistan and India. It is the height of hypocrisy when Pakistani artists are told they will be boycotted unless they distance themselves from their Government but dissent by Indian artists is branded as ‘anti national’! Bullying Pakistani and Indian artists is not ‘patriotism’ - it is jingoism. In every country in the world, the most courageous citizens have been those who have taken stands for peace in a climate of war-mongering.
The NDA Government is refusing to take any responsibility for its failure to secure its own military bases at Pathankot and Uri. Meanwhile the BJP’s Rajasthan Chief Minister herself organized and attended a ‘Rashtra Raksha Yagna’ – a Brahminical Hindu religious ‘Ritual for National Security’ at the Indo-Pakistan border, conducted by ’21 Brahmins!’ Such a ceremony, while making a mockery of India’s claims to modernity and development, is calculated to propagate the notion of India as a ‘Hindu Nation’ with Brahminical values.
The Government-sponsored jingoism is primarily for domestic political consumption – and the dangerous effects of the prevailing climate of jingoism are already showing. It is Indian Muslims who are the target of anti-Pakistan hate campaigns. Even as calls to boycott Pakistani artists gain ground, one of India’s finest actors, Nawazuddin Siddiqui was prevented by Hindu right wing groups from playing a role in the ‘Ramlila’ (enactment of the Ramayana) performance at Muzaffarnagar. It is significant that the Prime Minister himself has hinted that ‘Vijayadashami’ celebrations this year are ‘special’ – thus using the image of the Hindu festival celebrating the mythical victory of Rama over Ravana, to symbolise the ‘victory’ of India over Pakistan.
An even more chilling instance of the increasing bid of the Sangh Parivar to project India as a ‘Hindu nation’ with Muslims projected as the enemy, took place in Dadri recently. One of the men accused of lynching a Muslim man Akhlaque to death, died in judicial custody while awaiting trial. At his funeral, his body was draped in India’s national flag, as is the custom for the bodies of Indian soldiers, and political leaders gave speeches abusing and threatening Muslims. Clearly, the communal fascist forces are trying to project lynching Muslims as an act of ‘patriotism.’ Even as India’s ruling party draws political mileage from the death of soldiers, it has raised no objection to the use of the national flag to drape the body of a man accused of lynching to death the father of an Indian soldier.
It is unfortunate that the Opposition too is indulging in competitive war-mongering. The Congress is responding to the Modi Government’s claims of surgical strike by pointing out that similar strikes took place during the UPA regime too. A newspaper revealed documents proving that Indian troops carried out a cross-border ‘retaliatory’ strike in 2011 following a raid by Pakistani military. It emerges that in those raids and retaliations, the Geneva Convention and international norms of military engagement were thrown to the winds. Heads of Pakistani and Indian soldiers were chopped off and carried away as ‘trophies’ and later destroyed on orders of top military officials to conceal evidence of these war crimes. It is time for Indian and Pakistani citizens to declare that such atrocities and war crimes cannot be a source of ‘national pride’ for the people of either country. Lasting peace and an end to terror, war-mongering and hatred in the South Asian neighbourhood would be a worthy source of pride.
There is anger in Punjab’s border villages against the irresponsible war-mongering by Indian politicians and media. 15 lakh people of border villages were evacuated in the name of a war-threat. But it emerged later that the Border Security Force had not ordered the evacuation – rather the evacuation ordered by the Akali-BJP Government or India’s Home Ministry appeared motivated by political rather than security considerations. Faced with anger by farmers whose crops were endangered by the evacuation, the Government was forced to reverse the decision to evacuate.
The BJP is already displaying advertisements in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh boasting of the ‘surgical strike.’ The BJP must not be allowed to hide the failures of the Modi Government behind a smokescreen of war-mongering. The Modi Government has failed spectacularly to deliver on its promises to curb price rise, generate employment, make farmers prosperous and secure, or secure military bases. Instead it stands implicated of condoning crimes against minorities and Dalits in the name of protecting cows. Moreover, the Modi Government that is playing politics over soldiers’ deaths, has shamelessly failed to meet the soldiers’ demands for just disability pensions – including equity between jawans and officers and increased coverage when it comes to disability pensions. Instead there are reports that the Government actually slashed disability pensions for soldiers, days after the surgical strike.
Indian people who value democracy must counter state- and media-fuelled jingoism, promote peace and diplomatic dialogue to resolve issues between Pakistan and India and resolutely resist attempts to cloak communal hate-mongering in ‘patriotic’ robes.
[ML Update -
A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 19, No. 42, 11 ­– 17 OCTOBER 2016]

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