Will JNU Crackdown Prove To Be The Undoing Of Hindutva Fascism?

By Tathagata Bhattacharya

The state assault in India to stymie the tradition of dissent, a hallmark of democratic student politics around the world, cannot be seen in isolation from the Indian state’s over-all anti-people policies. Fascist forces throughout the world, elected or not, have always sought to impose their hegemony in collusion with the oligarchs and capitalists by suppressing the left and liberal sections of the society, namely students, academics, journalists, writers, filmmakers, singers and activists. We have seen that in Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Franco’s Spain, Batista’s Cuba and Pinochet’s Chile to name a few. That Modi’s India would not be an exception should not come as a surprise to anyone.

So if students in IIT, Chennai; Hyderabad Central University; FTII, Pune and JNU, New Delhi have become targets of outlandish accusations and police brutality, if tribals in Chhattisgarh are losing constitutional rights to forests and their native lands so that the Adanis can mine coal out of their land, if allocations in healthcare and higher education are being cut, if taxes on the common man are being raised every now and then, if prices of life-saving medicines are seeing a sudden manifold jump, if a certain Indian Air Force officer’s father is beaten to death by an irate mob after carefully whipping up a frenzy over concocted facts which supposedly hurt majoritarian religious sentiments, if rationalist thinkers are being murdered for speaking out against orthodoxy, if scribes, scholars and students are being beaten and intimidated and an under-trial political prisoner, held under flimsiest charges, assaulted in court premises in spite of specific directions from the Supreme Court to prevent such occurrences, they show a certain pattern. A fascist, Hindutva-driven, rabid state apparatus is at work to change the fundamental face and nature of this country. And that must be resisted.

The show of brawn by the Sangh Parivar and its political front exposes one fundamental weakness of the cultural nationalist fascists. That is faced with a major dearth of brain power, which is so very evident from the appointments at FTII, ICHR and several other bodies and institutions including ministries, they have to resort to wanton use of violence every now and then. At times, it is the police, at times they are the goons and nowadays, some of them are donning the lawyers’ black coats. But it is their weakness and not their strength and this weakness must be exploited to defeat their nefarious aims.

It is strange that Kanhaiya Kumar and his compatriots who inherit a glorious tradition of anti-colonial struggle by virtue of their ideological moorings are being dubbed as “anti-national” by the very elements who derive their ideology from an inglorious tradition of collusion with the colonial masters. While the Left was at the forefront of the anti-colonial struggle (Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, the Kakori Conspiracy, the Cawnpore Conspiracy, the Chittagong Armoury Raid, the Royal Indian Navy Revolt being a few pointers to this effect), the RSS guru MS Golwalkar was handing out sermons such as: “Hindus, don’t waste your energy in fighting the British. Save your energy to fight our internal enemies that are Muslims, Christians and Communists.” A former Prime Minister of the BJP was deposing in a British court against participants in the 1942 Quit India Movement agitators. Veer Savarkar wrote letters to the British Crown vowing his allegiance to London and escaped the noose while Bhagat Singh walked up to the gallows and Chandrasekhar Azad fell to the British Raj’s bullets in Alfred Park, Allahabad.

The Sangh Parivar and its political front’s attempt to divide the country on religious lines and impose caste Hindu domination are being challenged by various quarters. One has to say that the BJP government has actually contributed a lot towards this end. Fascists usually do not see their end coming but it comes for sure and, historically, it has always come at the hands of liberals. The Modi government has united the political opposition in the country. Now it is successfully alienating students, workers, journalists, academics, writers, film personalities, women, Muslims, other minority communities and Dalits. The layers of support are peeling off. And looking at the state of the economy and the way the state assembly elections in 2016 and 2017 are likely to go, the corporate and business lobby is likely to follow suit. One can’t be so sure of IT coolies though as a vast majority of them still remain enamoured with the Hindutva Samrat’s big words.

I do not think the Sangh ideologues, their political representatives and their stooges in the police force were aware of the ramifications of the Rohith Vemula episode and their actions in JNU. They underestimated the resolve of and the tradition of resistance among the Indian people and students. Now even central Intelligence agencies are denying connections between JNU agitators and cross-border terrorist organisations, a ridiculous claim that was made by the Union home minister based on a fake tweet. They are even saying there is no evidence that JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar chanted any anti-India slogan. On the other hand, videos have surfaced that show alleged ABVP supporters shouting slogans such as “Pakistan Zindabad”. It is kind of reminiscent of the Reichstag being set on fire and the blame being put on Communists. Barring the sole self-appointed soul of the nation who has turned prime time news into noise, all other national and international media outlets have been scathing in their condemnation of the government and police action.

People in this democracy are watching and they will make this government pay for its transgressions in 2019 and in the state assembly elections before that. You do not mess with FTII, JNU, the idea of India, ridicule the suicide of Rohith Vemula, sell our country to corporate greed and get away like that. In our resolve to take on the fascist force, a poem by Cesar Vallejo, who fought for the international forces against the Fascists in Spain, may come as an inspiration.



At the end of the battle the fighter lay dead. A man came to him

and said: ‘Don’t die! I love you too much!’

But the corpse, alas, went on dying.

Two came to him and again said:

‘Don’t leave us! Take heart!

Come back to life!’

But the corpse, alas, went on dying.

Then twenty, a hundred, a thousand,

Five hundred thousand, came, crying:

‘So much love and yet so powerless against death!’

But the corpse, alas, went on dying.

Millions surrounded him,

pleading together:

‘Brother, don’t leave us!’

But the corpse, alas, went on dying.

Then, all the men on earth

stood round him. The corpse eyed them sadly,

overwhelmed. He got up slowly,

embraced the first man, started to walk…

(translated by Paul O’Prey)


The writer is a journalist and commentator for leading national and international media publications, and an ex-student of JNU.


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