The nationally orchestrated shenanigan around "anti-national" students of Jawaharlal Nehru University has clearly proved to be inadequate for the trumpeters of sedition in the current government in the Centre. After HRD minister Smriti Irani's fiery-speech-turned-utter-fiasco in Lok Sabha, earning her the sobriquet "aunty-national", the Modi regime, along with its octopus-like extensions and self-appointed vigilantes of nationalism stretching across states, has scored yet another self-goal by bringing in sedition charges against a pantheon of Opposition leaders.
The list includes Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja, Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Ajay Maken, JD(U) leader KC Tyagi, as well as reupping charges of sedition against JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU scholars Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya. Basically, that's the catalogue of all the major political figures who were present at a gathering in JNU to protest against the highly controversial and downright unlawful arrest of Kanhaiya on February 12.
An "FIR was lodged at Saroonagar police station under the Cyberabad police commissionerate upon the direction of a metropolitan magistrate, who was urged to book the nine people by a group of lawyers", including one Janardhan Goud, a BJP sympathiser.
|Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and others sit with JNU students on February 13.|
The eclectic and newly compiled list of seditious political opponents is the latest ammunition in the hands of a rogue regime and its ideological state apparatus - comprising the lawkeepers and the lawmakers. Iconic men of law, such as Vikram Chuahan and OP Sharma, who have been caught on camera beating up Kanhaiya, women reporters, JNU students and teachers, are already out on bail, despite a cursory trip to the prison, thanks to outrage in public sphere and in some quarters of the national media, prompting actions such as India Today's sting operation against the "lawless lawyers".
Obviously, the corrosive diet of daily irony wherein a marauding militia of mass-manufactured believers is unleashed upon to assault, incriminate and incarcerate free-thinkers such as Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar, hasn't been appetising enough for the BJP-RSS-ABVP combine. Farcically enough, every one of their surefooted weapons, directly or indirectly affiliated to the mothership of Sangh Parivar - such as Smriti Irani, Amit Shah, Anupam Kher, among others - has boomeranged. Mostly, out of their own ignorance and half-baked, opportunistic, miserably misfiring machinations.
Even the North Indianisation of the nationalism debate - by positing a Durga with characteristically "Aryan" features over a Dravidian/tribal/dark-skinned Mahishasur - has come back to punch them in the face. Foundationally rickety, the Sangh and its ideologues within and outside the government are collecting wilting fig leaves of Hindutva as patriotism and nationalism to hide their unspooling incompetence in shoring up the economy or ensuring well protected borders, for example in Pathankot.
The banality of trumping up a sedition charge again and again to target intellectuals, students, political opponents, policy dissidents, leaders of pro-people movements now lies out in the open. Yet, this is the banality of evil. It's a cruel joke, but its cruelty cannot go unnoticed and overlooked by the cloud of ludicrousness because of its sheer violence of application and implication.
Yesterday, historian Ramachandra Guha argued in the Hindustan Times that it is facile to see in the present times seeds of the Emergency. "Not the Emergency by any stretch of imagination", he wrote, as he "singled out" CPIM gen-sec Sitaram Yechury and senior advocate in the Supreme Court Kamini Jaiswal, for their "untenable and misleading" comparisons of the Modi government to either Indira Gandhi-imposed Emergency or Hitler's Nazi party led political climate in the late 1930s Germany. The reason, he said, was both Indira and Hitler were establishment supremos, while Narendra Modi is a "weak ruler".
The caustic somersault of situations, with sedition charges leveled against both Indira's grandson Rahul Gandhi and Yechury, whom Guha deconstructed thus, ironically weighs the balance in favour of what the CPIM gen-sec has been trying to underline, both inside and outside Parliament.
If an archaic colonial legal weapon used by the British Raj to bludgeon nationalist uprising as disloyalty to the Imperia is being given a fresh lease of life, it is because law has been reduced to a cello-tape, a gagging mechanism.
Yet, this is clearly counter-productive. Dubbing parliamentarians, who show solidarity with a bunch of students at India's most prestigious university and centre of worldwide acknowledged academic excellence, "seditious", undermines our parliamentary democracy. This is flagrant flouting of our Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.
Moreover, this move also exposes the idiocy of leveling the same charge - that of sedition - against the JNU "anti-nationals" for doing exactly the same: debating and discussing contentious issues within the autonomous premise of the university, thereby expanding the ambit of democracy.
In other words, the charge falls flat on its face.
Therefore, in this serialised farce, we see the inspector general of Bastar, SRP Kalluri, finding in Umar Khalid's February 21/22 midnight speech at JNU, evidence of "conspiracy against Soni Sori", who was attacked on Saturday evening. Clearly, these khaki-donning puppets of grotesquerie are not at all bothered of coming across as downright ridiculous. Now, that is crossing over to a level of pathological burlesque, but we better start getting used to it.
The rule of law is a joke, as it turns out, in India 2016.