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The New Normal


Anand Teltumbde, in his column“The New Normal in Modi’s ‘New India’” (EPW, 4 August 2018), has derided the metamorphosing sociopolitical milieu in our country. On the eve of
independence, our political forefathers had envisioned it as holding steadfast to the democratic edifice. We have traversed an arduous path since then, but seem to have lacked respect for those who valiantly parted with their lives at the altar of the freedom struggle. Many a proponent of egalitarianism would be ashamed at what has become of our great country, where the bonds of brotherhood once forged are running down.

The data presented by Teltumbde but testify to the fact that something must have effectuated after the Bharatiya Janata Party took over the reins in 2014 inasmuch as the majority of the incidents related to lynching have been swelling since then. Recently, a sting operation spearheaded by a renowned news agency (NDTV) germane to the Hapur lynching shockingly revealed some of the people as saying, “they (victims) killed cows, we killed them.” The perpetrators have also been proudly taking to social media to intimidate those who would dare raise their voices against them. But, to say that such proclivities for vigilantism have a genesis of their own, absent any buttressing by the ruling dispensation, would be tantamount to only looking at one side of the coin, and thus be a tendentious view.

Recently, even a union minister was videotaped garlanding some cow vigilantes convicted for lynching Alimuddin Ansari, a meat trader. Therefore, when those holding such revered offices betray such conduct, a wave of impunity sweeps past and emboldens those overtly and egregiously flouting the rule of law. And, thus, there stands no rise in the “opportunity cost” to committing and abetting such crimes, no matter how stringent a law our lawmakers enact. This, exactly, is the flip side of the coin.

It was rather disconcerting to witness that the judiciary, at last, had to prod the government and nudge it awake to arrest the trend. However, I support Teltumbde in positing that it is not about creating a special law tackling lynching, unlike the apex court has opined, and what is warranted is the invoking of the existing laws without any dilly-dallying to bring all to justice. We should not let the state become an apparatus to the bourgeoisie, as was signalled by Karl Marx in his Communist Manifesto, and the strictest of the actions against the police officials and others found in dereliction of their stipulated duties must be endorsed. Also, the political executive must be discouraged and reprimanded (say by the activist judiciary) for any irresponsible conduct proliferating hatred of any sort. If such tendencies take root, we would soon become a textbook example for contemptuous hatred against the minorities. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Vinay Saroha

New Delhi

Updated On : 10th Aug, 2018


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