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Mainstream, VOL LV No 11 New Delhi March 4, 2017

Face of BJP’s Diabolical Project

Sunday 5 March 2017, by SC

EDITORIAL

While the BJP stalwarts, including PM Narendra Modi, continue their communally polarising campaign in the last phases of the UP Assembly elections, the RSS’ student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), has resorted to threats and intimidation against its adversaries among the students. Lately a 20-year-old student of English literature in Lady Shri Ram College has had to face the ABVP’s ire. She had changed her Facebook profile picture to her holding a placard that read: “I am a student of Delhi University and I am not afraid of ABVP.” For this “crime” she received threats from ABVP activists. Her being the daughter of an Indian Army soldier who had laid down his life in J&K fighting infiltrators did not come to her rescue. As The Indian Express pointed out, the more innocuous of such threats on the social media ”include ’a fate worse than Nirbhaya (the December 2012 gangrape and murder victim)’, advice to ‘just die’...“ She has been further intimidated with calls of being raped.

But such threats have been compounded by attacks on the student, Ms Gurmehar Kaur, from BJP parliamentarians and even Union Ministers. BJP MP Pratap Simha compared her to Dawood Ibrahim saying “at least Dawood didn’t use his father’s name to justify his anti-national stand”. Simha’s reaction was to a post by Kaur from May last year, where she had made a case for peace with Pakistan. And Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju tweeted asking: “Who is polluting this young girl’s mind?” Meanwhile Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu scented a plot to lead young minds astray.

These are not surprising. The BJP was in the forefront of the attacks on Muslims in Gujarat precisely 15 years ago. While analysing the happenings in that State in March 2002, a noted social scientist, Ashutosh Varshney, has written today in The Indian Express: 

A pogrom is defined as “a mob attack, either approved or condoned by authorities, against the persons and property of a religious, racial, or national minority”. Gujarat 2002 fits this definition well. Dozens of eye-witness stories can be cited. The non-state organisations, most closely allied with the BJP Government, approved of violence. The VHP called it “the first positive response of the Hindus to Muslim fundamentalism in 1000 years”. The RSS said: “Let the minorities understand their real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority,” not in laws. Finally, the courts sentenced a Minister in Modi’s government to jail for leading mobs. In short, it was not a case of the government trying to prevent massacres, but one in which the government looked the other way, and considerable abetting also took place. It was a pogrom.

 A political organisation which, while in power in a State, carried out such a pogrom 15 years ago (till date the then State CM, who is now the PM, has not tendered even an apology to the victims) can easily translate such threats, as have been given to Gurmehar, into action now that it enjoys absolute power at the Centre and when such threats have been followed by statements from BJP leaders instigating the ABVP activists issuing these in the social media. This is where the UP elections assume critical importance. An electoral victory for the BJP in that State can only facilitate implementation of its diabolical project in the days and months ahead.

March 1 s.c.