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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 9 New Delhi February 20, 2016

United Resistance to Fascist Onslaught

Monday 22 February 2016, by SC

EDITORIAL

Where are we heading? The events of the last few days in and around New Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University have compelled one to bring this question to the focus of national attention.

As if the hurling of the sedition charge against the JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar before throwing him in police custody and then Tihar Jail was not enough, the shocking spectacle on February 15 of lawyers associated with the ruling party at the Centre pouncing on supporters of Kanhaiya at the Patiala House Courts before attacking young journalists of the print and electronic media performing their professional duty of covering the court proceedings in a savage display of their “love” for the Indian nation provided ample testimony of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah-run BJP’s fascist proclivities which had been exposed earlier as well even if not in such a blatant manner. And to cap it all, one MLA of the BJP not only violently attacked a CPI worker for allegedly insulting “our mother (India)” but also exclaimed in an exhibition of rabid national chauvinism that he would have shot the young Communist if he had a gun. What was most shameful was the attack on Kanhaiya himself by the same group of lawyers on February 17. And the police under the Delhi Police Commissioner were found to don the role of mute spectators.

The incidents at the Patiala House Courts of February 15 and 17 are a blot on the judiciary precisely because those took place within the court precincts. Even the Supreme Court advocates appointed as court commissioners by the Apex Court were not spared; they had to endure a string of abuses that left them fuming. As a consequence both rule of law and democracy have suffered a grievous blow.

The role of a section of the media must come in for severe criticism. Kanhaiya himself spoke of a “media trial”. Instead of being watchdogs these mediapersons are not only acting as lapdogs of the government but also fanning the most objectionable media frenzy.

The anti-India slogans by some persons at the February 9 event in JNU to mark the third anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru, accused of being a conspirator of the 2001 Parliament House attack, doubtless merited condemnation and Kanhaiya himself did so in his address at JNU on February 11. (See facing page.) But that should not be a licence to launch a fascist onslaught on the democratic right to dissent, one of JNU’s distinct hallmarks, in the true legacy of our first PM. Additionally the nation is now being given lessons on ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ by those whose predecessors never participated in the freedom struggle besides being intimately linked to the killers of the Fathor of the Nation; some of them had no hesitation of even eulogising Gandhiji’s killer, Nathuram Godse, in Parliament.

What happened in the last few days constitutes a frontal attack on our democratic rights and functioning. This is nothing short of a concerted, powerful and organised fascist offensive which warrants unified resistance by democrats of all hues. It is most heartening that liberal opinion has come out openly against the threat to the country from the government’s subversion of freedom, while simul-taneously the aforementioned unified resistance is taking shape at the political level braving all odds.

These are the silver-linings in the overall grim scenario.

February 18 S.C.