“There is not a single stain on my government in the three years of my governance,” asserted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing an elite gathering of business men and members of the Indian community in Virginia during his just concluded visit to the United States. Ignorance could be bliss for some. But uttering outright lies and feigning others to be ignorant expose lack of statesmanship. Does not the lynching of a man in a running train, only because the victim is a Muslim, a stain? Is not battering a police officer to death on suspicion that he is not a Muslim, in a State where the Prime Minister’s party is part of the government, a stain? Are not the killings of people by vigilante groups in various States, mostly run by the BJP, a stain on Mr Modi, the sole face of the party? This is just one part of the story of innumerable stains that dot the BJP governments at the Centre and States.
In the wake of the killings of African-Americans by the White in the United States in the turn of the 20th century, Abel Meeropol, an American poet, wrote:
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
With BJP governments taking root in most parts of North and North-West India, a strange law is emerging. Vigilante groups decide what constitutes a crime; Hindutva forces zero in on those who commit such crimes; saffron mobs carry out the punishment for such crimes. The laws of the land have become irrelevant; they have been made subservient to the whims and fancies of the ruling dispensation and its fringe elements. Laws are meant to stop injustice to others; but laws of the Hindutva mobs are meant to subject minorities to maximum torture.
What is more worrisome is the out-and-out silence of the Modi government and the party. The BJP was voted to power with absolute majority to preside over a government which carries all people along. It cannot be seen to side with marauders who are out to free the country of minorities. But, its partisan stand on various issues has emboldened the fringe elements and vigilante groups. The governments at the Centre and States have been elected to protect the life and limb of all people; but, they are seen as protectors of those who take away the lives of minorities.
We are witnessing an alarming situation of gradual disappearance of governance; State is becoming blind to injustice perpetrated on its citizens; mobocracy is replacing the rule law; people are falling silent even after witnessing the most barbaric acts; it is gradual death of the State. If this worrying trend is not reversed, one day we will see a strange system, like the strange fruit in Meeropol’s poem, hanging over us like a Damocles sword. It is time to act, both at government and at people’s level, to stem the rot. It is good to remember what Rabbi Hillel, a famous Jewish religious leader, said 2000 years ago: “If not now, then when? And if not us, then who?”(Published on 03th July 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 27)