The Savage Greed of The Civilized – AAP, Moral Posturing and Ordinary Racism

The savage greed of the civilized stripped naked its own unashamed inhumanity’

Africa, Rabindranath Tagore


Delhi Law Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Somnath Bharti’s midnight raid in Khirki village, during which he ordered policemen to search and enter houses, arrest people without warrants, and allegedly said that “black people, who are not like you and me, break laws” –  strips naked the unashamed inhumanity of the Aam Aadmi Party regime’s moral posturing. Underneath the holier-than-thou mask of that moral posture lies the unmistakably horrible sneer of the ordinary racist thug. This is the real face of Somnath Bharti. I hope it is a face that the Aam Aadmi Party can turn itself away from.

When Arvind Kejriwal,  makes the mistake of trying to defend Somnath Bharti, denying all charges of racism (just as Narendra Modi denies all charges of communalism) he is exposing himself either as a liar (who knows what racism is but is in denial about it)  or as a man of very limited political intelligence (who, like most racists, does not understand what racism is when he is confronted with it). In either circumstance, we cannot trust him, or his party, should they persist in this folly, to be the custodians of our city. In order to regain the trust that they are rapidly losing, they have to apologize, not just to the city’s African residents, but to everybody (because racism offends every human being) and pending the results of an enquiry, suspend Somnath Bharti.


Should such an enquiry reveal that Bharti did indeed make racist comments he and any other leader found to be making racist and misogynist remarks, (evidence is mounting, for instance against Kumar Vishwas as well)  should be expelled immediately by the Aam Aadmi Party. If the Aam Aadmi Party does not take the corruption of racism and misogyny within its ranks seriously, why should we believe that now that it is in power, it will take any other form of corruption seriously? There are many sensible, sensitive and intelligent people who have joined the AAP, in the hope that it represents a real political alternative. It is up to them now to initiate a real debate within AAP and to cleanse their own stable.

Had even a small fraction of what happened, (cavity searches, public humiliation, name calling) to a few Africans in Khirki that night happened to a few Indian women elsewhere in the world, we would have heard no end of it on television by now. Every Indian satrap worth his salt, from Kejriwal to Modi to Rahul Gandhi to Akhilesh Yadav and Sitaram Yechury would have been screaming ‘Racism’ at the top of their lungs. Much air time and op-ed space would have been taken up in righteous and fulsome indignation, marches would have been held, and the foreign ministry would have hauled up the resident diplomats of those countries. and rightly so, because racism is racism. But racism is racism regardless of whether its object is an Indian or Pakistani student in Melbourne, or an Ugandan or Russian woman in Delhi . In all likelihood, in the event that such incidents were to take place, say in Melbourne, some poker faced Australian politician or official from those countries would have said, on record, that the attacks were not ‘racist’ in nature, exactly as Kejriwal, is doing today in Delhi. The Chief Minister of Delhi was handed an occasion to demonstrate his sensitivity on a platter, but he has, as of now blown that opportunity away, and exactly as on an earlier occasion where he had shown that the lives and opinions of Kashmiri people do not matter to him when weighed against the fetish of national interest, so too this time, he has shown us that when it comes to weighing the interests and machismo of his self-righteous constitutency against the safety and security of African women in the city, he would rather be with the ordinary racist (in denial of the explicit and implicit racism of the episode)  than stand in solidarity with the ordinary victim of ordinary racism.

During this infamous raid, as is now well known, the crowd of Aam Aadmi Party vigilantes accompanying Somnath Bharti kept some Ugandan women residents of Khirki village confined in a car for several hours, abused them and forced one of them to urinate in public. Later urine samples were obtained from them under duress at a hospital. The mob believed that these samples would show that they had consumed drugs. Incidentally, the medical tests proved that the urine samples contained no traces of prohibited narcotic substances. Apparently, they also believed that the women were prostitutes and drug peddlers. Reports also indicate that intoxicated by their self-righteousness the AAP posse then went on to harass, humiliate  and abuse some local transgender individuals they found on the streets.

So what if some of the African women and the transgendered locals were sex workers? (It does not matter to me whether they were or were not, because I believe that sex workers, like all other kinds of workers, are just as entitled to dignity as anyone else). Does the mere suspicion that some people may be sex workers entitle a group of aam aadmis to manhandle and humiliate them, or any one else who they think fits the description of what they think is a sex worker way past midnight on the streets. Is the moral fibre of anti-corruption crusaders so fragile as to require strengthening through the enactment of sadistic rituals on the bodies of convenient others ? Can it be accidental that such ‘others’ just happen to be racial and sexual minorities ?

Perhaps this is what Rabindranath Tagore had in mind when he invoked ‘the savage greed of the civilized’ in his poem ‘Africa’. Now that Africa has been called out in the streets of Delhi, we need to recognize the heart of darkness that lurks within this city. This is the darkness of racial prejudice, that every ‘North Eastern’, Burmese  and African inhabitant of Delhi knows well, it is the stain of bigotry that every Afghan or Kashmiri Muslim young man or woman faces when looking for a house to rent, it is the slur, the snide remark, that shadows every trans or queer person. This is the real face of the so called ‘moral code’ that Somnath Bharti and his vigilantes are trying to force down our throats. This is why, unless something is done to prevent it now, AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) will rapidly turn into KHAP (Khas Aadmi Party).

Following the recent regrettable rape of a Danish tourist in Central Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had made a statement that linked sexual crime in the city to drugs and prostitution. As we know well by now, sexual assault takes place everywhere –  from the confines of families and in the home, in schools, ashrams, army encampments and during festivals that claim to celebrate debate and intellectual activity. In fact, the statistical incidence of sexual assault within the ordinary middle class Indian family home is far greater than in drug-dens, allegedly run by African emigrants. And if the consumption of drugs can, in certain instances, be factors behind cases of sexual assault, so too can an overdoes of traditional family values, organized religion and even (as in the Tehelka episode) the right degree of glamorously liberal angst.

Curiously, these facts do not embolden Delhi’s Law Minister and his posse of vigilantes to raid homes in Malviya Nagar and Saket,  (neighborhoods adjacent to Khirki village), the offices of major media houses, or temples and places of worship, or  to obtain urine samples under duress from young Indian women and to berate policemen for standing by (for once, and for a change) the rights of people to be protected from undue harassment.

Like all racism, Bharti’s prejudice conceals at its heart, a repressed sexual secret – a shameful projection of anxieties about rape on to the bodies of racial others. Racist lynch mobs in the American South were often motivated by a wave of self-righteous rage about transgressions of sexual boundaries and rumors about rape (of white women by black men). In a curious twist of fate, the lynch mob that Somnath Bharti leads and Arvind Kejriwal endorses seems to seek recompense for the rape of a white and brown woman in Delhi by enacting the humiliation of black women, who have nothing to do with the attacks on any woman, anywhere in the city. If that is not racism, then I do not know what is. It is racism, and it is misogyny. I do not know what can be worse than this combination of prejudices.

Many young people from the arts communities, especially young women who live and/or work in Khirki village, and have to walk through its streets on the way to or from work have always told me that they feel safe in Khirki because of the very public presence of young African women, even late into the night. If some residents of Khirki and Malviya Nagar feel threatened by the African presence in their midst, equally there are some who actually feel reassured and comforted by that very presence. If anything, it is the solidarity that many in Khirki feel with its African inhabitants that is more in keeping with this city’s long history.

Somnath Bharti, has violated a long history that Delhi has of being hospitable to people from all parts of the world. By his actions he has demonstrated that it is not the Africans of Khirki, but he and his gang that do not really belong to the city and its traditions. There were African inhabitants in Delhi as long ago as in the 13th Century, and many of them may well have lived where Khirki village stands today. Razia Sultan, who reigned as Delhi’s queen from 1236 to 1240, and whose citadel was very close to Khirki, is rightly remembered with great fondness as one of the few just and compassionate rulers that this city has had in its long history. Raziya had an African consort, Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut, and she fought to protect the dignity of this man, whom she loved (it is rumored that she loved him and another female companion, both of whom had once been slaves) from the racial and sexual prejudices of her courtiers. In the popular imagination Raziya Sultan lost her throne, and her life, because she did not choose to abandon those she loved, regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation, and that is what marks her out as one of the many heroes and martyrs of Delhi.


A few centuries later, we hear of Sidi Miftah, a Habshi (Abyssinian) noble man also known as Habsh (Dark) Khan in the service of Shahjahan, who later in life turned into a majzoob, (a passionate Sufi mystic) and whose memory is immortalized in the Phatak Habsh Khan, situated near Tilak Bazar, Fatehpuri, in the old city. There is even a Siddiyon Ka Masjid (an African mosque) near Filmistan Cinema, just off Karol Bagh. All of these facts are traces of the long African history of Delhi and if  we have to find a ethical anchor for this city’s life, which has to be based on inclusivity, hospitality, cosmopolitanism and openness, I would much rather that we find it in the parable of Raziya Sultan’s love for an African man and in the passion of Sidi Miftah than in the moral cancer of Somnath Bharti’s xenophobic and sexist vigilantism.

Thankfully, many people in Delhi have a better sense of its traditions and history of hospitality than Somnath Bharti and his gang. Several young people, artists, performers, teachers, student activists of AISA from JNU, Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia, and women active with the AIPWA and other organizations and individuals came together yesterday at Jantar Mantar to protest against the racist attack in Khirki village. Also present were a few of the African citizens of Delhi. Kavita Krishnan, general secretary of the AIPWA, began the meeting by speaking out how racism and sexism feed off each other.

Aastha Chauhan, a young artist and cultural organizer who has been working in Khirki village for quite some time now, spoke of how over the past year of so, there had been several attempts by her and her friends (both African and Indian) to counter the racism and misogyny that had become a hallmark of daily life in Khirki and its vicinity. She spoke of how they had made several representations to the local police to take measures that ensures that young women and children of African descent could feel safe in their homes and on the streets in Khirki. She had talked about how their efforts were made in an attempt to counter a series of complaints from the local RWA members that listed the ‘African menace’ as consisting of the following – the fact that they played music, that their women wear shorts and baniyaan, (which, they said, might provoke ‘our’ daughters into wanting to start wearing shorts) that their food smells awful, that they smoke marijuana, that they are prostitutes (for which they had no evidence, barring a ‘sting’ by a local TV channel) , and that they have live-in partners, which is contrary to Indian culture.

Aastha spoke of how her efforts had actually begun bearing some fruit when a sympathetic police officer in the local thana had actually decided to pursue an even handed course which, while it was sensitive to  routine ‘law & order’ concerns, was not attentive to complaints against Africans that were based entirely on prejudices about life style and private conduct that had no bearing in law. It is this ‘neglect’ of prejudice that is now being touted as complicity with corruption by the Aam Aadmi Party and its leadership. She urged everyone present to being confronting racism in every small detail – to stand up to it in shops, when an African customer is insulted, on the streets and in work places.

After Aastha, Jason a young African man, asserted that the world, according to him is the home of all of humanity. And any human being should accordingly have the right to feel at home, anywhere in the world. He spoke of how Indians were accorded great respect in his native country, and he said that naturally, he expected that respect to be reciprocated in India. He said he was attracted to the idea of living here by what he saw in Indian films, and had a great love for Indian people and for the country, which was why he was at a loss to understand why some Indian people were so unwelcoming to him and others like him. He thanked the people who had come out in support of the African residents of Delhi and blessed them for their solidarity.

This was followed by two rounds of drumming by another young African person, and a brief burst of impromptu dancing and then more statements by other students, artists and activists.

If, as has been alleged, Somnath Bharti said that these people – meaning Africans – are ‘not like us’ or something to that effect, then he seems to have stumbled upon that a sudden realization that he and his followers are actually members of a species other than human. As far as human beings are concerned, it is a fact that ultimately we are all from Africa because that is where our common ancestors found their humanity. Our species became human in Africa, and that makes Africans of us all, regardless of where in Delhi, or in the world, we choose to anchor ourselves and our histories.

Except, perhaps for some aam aadmi in the city of Delhi who stumbled upon their aadmiyat (manhood) exactly at the point when they also lost their insaniyat (humanity). Unfortunately for Somnath Bharti and Arvind Kejriwal, that is not a process that can ordinarily be described as evolution.

42 thoughts on “The Savage Greed of The Civilized – AAP, Moral Posturing and Ordinary Racism”

  1. Shuddha, once more I commend you for writing a few unpalatable truths and going against the tide. But I do wish this were not an issue. Let me swiftly assure you that I have never really been an AAP follower, nor did I approve of their shenanigans in an earlier avatar. I do think that Kejriwal and his people are rank opportunists (Please, all the trolls who wish to burn me down immediately, it is just my opinion, and not one that I wish to argue with you about) and during that Anna circus, I was appalled, but for other reasons. It made them look like crusaders and my fear was that a thoroughly cynical public would be even more disillusioned if one more grand vision/movement failed and would put an end to any such future “popular” uprisings.

    That said, I think we should let them carry on with their policies and their actions without being critical about it. For two reasons. One, they will lose credibility all on their own, but the moment an outsider criticizes them they will band together and cry about persecution. Two, give them a chance. These are still early days. They really might get their act together.
    I know these are not issues to gloss over or ignore. But being critical about them makes the critic look partisan, at the moment. I am not sure how anyone could react to these shenanigans. But it would look churlish if we raised these issues at this time. (Oh, Shuddha and his left wing ideals. Oh, Shuddha is nit picking when there are other burning issues before us). So let them have their long rope.

    Ironically, I have myself lived in Khirki village many years ago, and I do know what it is like. A few girls from the North East used to live opposite my building and I know how these so-called fine upright moral crusaders used to behave with them. There was this other nice woman I used to chat with, until one day Sonu the telephone booth guy whispered to me theatrically, “Arre, gashthi hai? Kisse baat kar raha hai?” and I am afraid I did not know what it meant in those days and kept happily chatting with her. Even when I found out, it did not matter to me. I was still happy to chat with her in the evenings. So, these so-called protectors of morality need not talk about their little crusades. Dirt or ugliness does not come from outsiders, it comes from within. Strangely, in spite of the sordid little climate in that place, I still remember it fondly for some reason. Sharmaji’s dhaba and the little hoodlums (Believe it or not, Billoo badshah, some little kid.. who kept staring at me and I laughed at him. Only, someone told me I was likely to get stabbed if I carried on and got an introduction as a face saver both for him and for me. Even then I could not help laughing.. Badshah? Really? I could spank him and make him bawl, I thought. But then that is what it was like, ugliness and innocence all together. And so were all the characters around… like something out of Nukkad, the serial).

    I know it would be a little out of place for me to say you are wrong in raising these issues here. But would it make a difference if we chose to ignore them and let their own people comment on it instead?


    1. I feel we have to tell it like it is. Most of us want to give AAP a chance. But this is completely unacceptable. Terribly dangerous. Self righteousness is giving them a moral license to do despicable things. They have to be called out on it.


      1. It appears without giving a chance to BJP by you, they are trampling the national scene.Have you ever protested against CPM vigilantes.Somnath Bharti definately appears wrong but do you have any evidence that they forced Africans to urinate in public,slapped or anything like that.And it is AAP culture and they want to force their values on society like leftist had tried to do all over world.I considered myself left-liberal and continuously following Kafila but sometimes it appears that Left is frightened by its growing irrelevance in India. It is easy to pass judgements from comfort of your home and occasional picnics at Jantar-Mantar.


        1. To answer your question, yes I have been protesting against all vigilantism for years. Whether it is mangalore thugs on valantine’s day, or moral policing by political parties. This is nothing special. More of the same old. Again, everyone wants AAP to succeed. But not at the cost of fundamental rights and freedoms under the guise of moral outrage.


        2. And your considerable wisdom on this topic comes from sitting where? Not Jantar Mantar, for sure. I hope it is not too hot in the fields where you are toiling, or not too cold when on sentry duty at night. A left liberal saying that no chance was given to the BJP almost is the proverbial twist in the tail :) In that case, you must be right. The Left is indeed frightened, frightened of too much relevance, though. Especially since your left credentials seem to be pointing towards a certain tea-seller, no doubt as leftist and probably more liberal than you.


          1. I think you misread my statement.It was sarcastic.I wanted to say that with all high moral standings, Left was not able to solve problems of West Bengal.Sometimes, people under pressure may make mistakes.Morally corrupt congress is out of contest and AAP is new challenge to BJP.You pull the leg of AAP and clear the highway for Facists.Congratulations.


            1. Yes, probably misread it. And what you are suggesting is what I did imply in the first place. Thank you for clarifying that. In a nutshell, that is what I meant when I said let their own people be critical of the AAP. And in any case, I feel this is more about setting up a platform to claim authority over the police force rather than an ideological thing. But they already did immense damage to themselves and dented their credibility with this tamasha. There is nothing their worst opponent could have done to sink their ship in a more efficient way. So self inflicted wounds are not exactly what WE contribute as people who are not fans of AAP.


          2. I’m sorry, was that my comment you were replying to? Because it had absolutely no connection to what I said. How does the BJP come into this? How does the left come into this? How does ANY party come into this? Right is right. Wrong is wrong. I think you’re talking to some imaginary person in this comment thread. Certainly not to me!


            1. Read Above, figure out how reply threads work. For all your SEO expertise I am a little surprised you have no idea how replies are ordered here, and to whom the reply is addressed to. Well, now you might know, since I am addressing you. Yes, since you happen to be imaginary, get out of my way too. For a quick commonsense reply, I was not even talking to you.


    2. I think that we need to stop deifying Arvind Kejriwal as some Jesus or Buddha who came along and shed some light in our dark lives. While there may have been political smartness in tapping into widespread resentment and anger at the way things are, the fact is that the resentment and anger that the aam nagrik felt at the way things were very much preceded the shenanigans of the IAC and those who came thereafter. The real story is that the aam nagrik felt outrage and voiced it in the ballot box in a totally democratic way. The aam nagrik, whether he voted for the AAP or the BJP or against the INC expressed faith in the democratic process. The political smartness of the AAP and its leaders cannot be mixed up with the democratic credentials of the aam nagrik so to provide excuses for naked realpolitik sought to be disguised as a crusade against corruption.


  2. Wonderful as always.

    Time the ‘moral crusaders of our times’ ask Somnath Bharti to put in his papers from the august post which he occupies today or show him the exit doors to restore their ‘insaniyat’.



  3. Wonderful ! One from the heart as much as from the head…One of course expects nothing less from Shudda!…

    I hope this post of mine sees light on Kafila…For some reason, my two liner ripost – critical of Aditya Nigam’s endorsement of AAP (via a “critical engagement” with it after this shameful event) was not displayed. What was my crime? Pointing out that after his attack on “ideological warriors” like Prabat Patnaik, his ‘advisory’ piece to AAP after the African Incident was a perfect occasion for someone to tell him “I told you so”…


  4. I find it really amusing that people in the past who have rightfully questioned the Delhi Police version of events and who have always been skeptical of the reporting of the corporate media are so easily buying what the police say in this case. Its ridiculous actually. Where is the evidence that racists statements were made by Bharti? Where is the evidence that women have been forced to urinate themselves publicly? AN Indian express report? You believe that rag edited by Shekhar Gupta?

    If it is found that everything that you stated indeed took place, i would be with you in asking for an apology and expulsion of Bharti. But will you Shuddhabrata Sengupta apologize if it is found that drug racketeering and prostitution has been taking place in the area in collusion with the Delhi Police? Will you apologize if it is found that their was no racist insults were hurled, no public urination took place?

    PS: The police took the women for a urine test; not aap volunteers.


    1. I think that its not for SS or anyone here to apologize. Its Arvind Kejriwal who is making a big song and dance, even as we engage in this debate, seeking suspension of police officials on the mere say so of a politician/minister. Your own comment can be re-phrased as this:

      “I find it really amusing that people in the past who have rightfully questioned the politician/Ministerial version of events and who have always been skeptical of the reporting of the corporate media are so easily buying what the politician/Minister is saying in this case. Its ridiculous actually.”

      So if we have to await investigations, and all critical comment is ‘paid media’, then what is the big difference that these guys are bringing to the table?

      PS: CCTV footage shows the Law Minister at the hospital, overseeing that the tests were done propertly. You may want to check facts properly before trolling here.


      1. You first say that AAP is acting in a racist way, now you’re saying that lets wait for an independent investigation? can you say shifting the goalposts?
        I have already stated that an independent investigation is underway; so why pre judge a situation and label people racist?

        Kejriwal is asking for the SHO who has refused to act in this case despite resident writing letters to him for months begging him to investigate the matter to be suspended, is that such an unfair demand? Another SHO refused to file an FIR despite the victim’s testimony that her mother in law poured oil over her and burned her; is seeking his suspension an unfair demand?

        As as far you rephrasing my narrative is concerned, look let me ask this, who has a history of lying, AAP or Delhi Police? Is it not a fact that the Police extorts money from rickshaw pullers, slum dwellers, small shop owners, street vendors, drug dealers, and so on, in Delhi? Is it not a fact that citizens, mostly from the lowest economic class, have to plead with the Police before they register FIRs and investigate? So why is it so difficult to believe that they refused to act in this case because they were being paid? You need a dose of critical thinking. The media had stated, during the December gangrape protest, that AAP volunteers beat up a police constable and were responsible for his murder, what happened to that? Oh that’s right, it was proven to be false in court.

        As far as racism is concerned, according to Kejriwal, “I got a letter from the Uganda High Commission appreciating what we had done, because a lot of Ugandan women are brought to India on pretext of jobs, and are then forced into prostitution” So apparently, Mr. Sengupta stands in solidarity with human traffickers and drug cartels, while AAP stands against exploitation and police oppression.

        Bharti being shown in a cctv footage proves nothing, unless you are arguing that he himself administered the urine tests! You are also aware that the entire media was present when the incident took place, if women were beaten up, forced to urinate in public and so on, the media was there filming, so where is the footage? There is no footage because no such thing took place.

        PS: Let me reiterate, Mr. Sengupta must apologize if it is proved that their was no racism, just like AAP must apologize and expel bharti if it is proven that a mob of AAP did mistreat women. Dont demand expulsions and label people as racist before the truth comes out.


        1. If in the name of critical thinking all that you are able to come up with are hyberbole and extremely open ended and wide comments, then where is the scope for any sensible debate? And are you seriously suggesting that some camera person should have been filming a woman urinating? As for the letter that you are referring to, that is a letter from the Uganda High Commission to the Chief of Military Intelligence, Government of Uganda asking them to speak to a woman, on her way back to Uganda from India, about having been tricked into a sex trafficking racket operating in India and Uganda. The letter dates back to June 2013 – long before the AAP came into this picture. I have yet to see any statement from Bharti that he was acting on this letter. He has all along been saying that he acted on inputs from some neighbours. I think you better be careful of some disgruntled neighbours of yours. They may put a label on you and yours and soon you will be getting a visit from the friendly neighbourhood MLA/Minister and hordes of self righteous thugs with media crew close behind. Good look with that future! To all of us!


    2. Dear Shourav and also to the Author
      I think most people commenting on the incident have had a knee jerk reaction watching Television news on the so called Raid.
      Please reflect for a moment on facts
      No woman was made to urinate in public for samples.
      There have been several complaints for several months against possible prostitution and drug abuse in the colony , including a letter from a Ugandan official and a victim too.
      A minister goes out at night, calling the police to accompany and investigate, and they refuse citing lack of warrant. They could have filed a case and come back later with a warrant.
      it is indeed unfortunate that foreigners were there and maybe we have to devise a more ‘athithi devo bhava’ tactic while handing foreigners who have or could be breaking the law.
      i would ask/request the media to go down in their sensationalism and edited news.
      I would advise AAP and his ministers to understand that despite their doing the right thing, they’re facing a larger enemy – corruption and thus will have worse situations.
      but one thing as a citizen , to me is clear. the police involved are definitely corrupt.
      i can see that even Shinde seems corrupt.
      what is his objection in following basic rules – suspend the officer whom you’re going to launch an enquiry or transfer him for the same week you have asked for the investigation.
      Shinde is using this and many such incidences to target AAP in an attempt to protect corrupt officers. In the circumstances, I see no other means for Arvind Kejriwal to ask for justice. How can a State Government run if the the police aren’t under his jurisdiction.
      it is interesting to hear that all three parties have in their Manifesto agreed to transfer power of the police in New Delhi to the local government. If this is indeed true, then it is amazing why it isn’t happening.
      I hope some sense comes out of this.


  5. Reject vigilantism: AAP’s mandate is for improving law and order, not subverting it.Headine of TOI view.It is great to see, how right wing paper and left wing blogger agree.Can you please give some suggestions to AAP throw its leftist leaders, how to force Delhi Police in action.As it is known fact that Delhi is crime capital on India.


  6. Many of us saw the intolerant trends of discourse in Anna’s agitations when the media were hailing him a messiah.
    It is one thing to fight corruption; it is another to impose your morality on others in the name of anti corruption.The overt violence of speech was also there for all to see and that was most un-Gandhian; that the media did not see it is all to their lack of proffesionalism and dare I say,their training ! There was a thin line Anna’s bandwagon was treading.
    Many of us also saw fascist leanings of the movement and there is not much to choose between rascism and fascism because they feed off each other. While most of the media went gaga over Anna, some of it saw through and I am happy that Kafila can be counted in the latter.
    What we now see is the spillover effects of the movements that never turned the searchlight of morality on themselves while they accused others of those crimes.
    Chickens come home to roost and sometimes sooner than expected !


    1. Well said. But hang on, don’t count on Kafila all the while. I remember the distasteful suggestion by Nivedita Menon that in view of the “New Enlightenment”, old fogeys of the left must join hands in the struggle and so what if there were right-wing elements in that group? I remember writing a comment about it that I could not join hands with my murderers however noble the cause.
      So the “New Left” was invented at that time, apparently. One that could shake hands with communal forces, all in the name of “India’s second independence struggle”. Apparently, it did not matter who was left or right, as long as there was one big picnic lamenting the demise of probity in politics. Ironically, this was just after she had written a brilliant piece about the Babri judgement. So, as long as the ideals are wonderful, we must forget that right wing extremism (or for that matter, left wing extremism) is at all a danger and that we are going to build a wonderful society that shall live happily ever after once the Jan Lokpal bill came into existence. Er… who will cat this belle?

      But, well said, nonetheless.


      1. Yes, Tejaswi, clearly remember your comment that you could not not rub shoulders with your murderers. Who really can unless coerced with a gun to the temple?
        Who was the Greek godess with the scales ? Perhaps we could put the ‘belle’ in and see which way the scales tilt.
        For me one of the revelations of the week has been the transformation of a IBN editor to AAP apologist – defender of Bharti’s crimes. What other dark horses lurk in media circles waiting to show their true colours when they feel the time is ripe ?


        1. Hello Eric, thanks for your kind reply. To be pedantic and reply to your question :)
          Not being facetious, but agreeing with you completely.
          I do not have television, got tired of the daily soap on news networks. I probably am healthier as a result, when I am less at risk of dying of apoplexy. Try it, it might save you a few years of life as well, and to a minor extent save your pate as well. I have stopped tearing my hair ever since I stopped watching tv news. So, I see that you are probably referring to Ashutosh, the new AAP recruit. I think Reliance has sent him advance warning already to quit. Read the last issue of Caravan for more info on the CNN IBN story. How Reliance controls content these days. You will be surprised. Rajdeep Sardesai and his equally voluble wife may sweat even without the klieglights these days. Reliance tells them how to behave. Other dark horses? I wonder, are we probably wrong in calling THEM the dark horses? When every horse is dark these days, the fair horses must be ones that are right? Not sure, not a betting man myself. :))
          Good to hear from you, Eric. Would love to meet you when I am in Goa next (I am told you live in Bombay, even so). I was always sneering at people who used to go to Goa from Mangalore when it was the same climate, better beaches (don’t fume) and better food. But I have a dear octogenarian friend there who is very important to me and I was quite surprised when I came there a few months ago. Maybe as an older person now, I am a little more impressed with the kind of roads, peace and sense over there.
          But the next time, we shall meet, I hope. Will write to you on your blog.


  7. I get the concept that this racist action needs to be reported, even though many eye AAP as a means to the true liberation and glory of this country. But such a lengthy article which even details the history of the Africans in Delhi is really not needed. Racism of any sorts doesn’t need justification. It is what it is – a crime! We need to be give some space and time to the AAP. They have just taken over and there’s a lot of pressure. The truth about them will eventually come out.

    As for this incident, the irony is, the party has no idea of crime in Delhi to go and harass Africans. As per statistics, most criminals here come from the Jat lands of UP and Haryana. Blaming the Africans is a stupidity!


  8. Within 15 days the classic inversion has happened. State against Population becomes legitimate. All the rumbles for cleaning the state has gone and now you have targets within population to be subjugated. The targets will keep on shifting as state plays out it’s efficacy. So 20th century. Who said this was post-ideological!!


  9. Kumar Bishwa’s supposedly racist comment, made some time back, that earlier nurses were mostly black and unattractive Malayalis and that now most of them are fair north Indians which attract men, ran into controversy. United nursing association President Jasminshah is planning to send a letter against such racist and anti nurse comment to Kejrival. He asked whether it is the stand of Aam admi party and added that it is utmost reprehensible to make comments based on the skin of the professional. According to him there are 2 lakh nurses in India and of them more than 95 per cent are Malayalis.


  10. Such a long article and that too based on the version of one group or viewpoint.
    What is strange that everybody seems to be concurring on the “racism” of Somnath Bharti and residents of Khidki village who are all “regressive, racist, uneducated filth”.
    And how can they ever have a valid issue or problem with a sex and drugs cartel operating in the area? After all the Left wants everybody to live with sex workers!!
    I for one don’t have any issues with someone plying their trade, be it sex trade, from their house discreetly. However, this means soliciting on the road I do have an issue.
    For one, then, the activity ceases to be private and becomes my problem. I can still ignore it, were it not for the accompanying hoodlums and miscreats who then come into the area. Not to mention people selling bootleg liquor, drugs.
    You may say there is no proof. Never mind the recording presented by local residents. They are regressive filth who don’t like shorts and baniyan clad women.
    What about underpants then? There is no exagerration here, there are women, African, out in underpant length shorts, heavily made up out there.
    Now I am an old-fashioned fool. But what happened to the old argument about respecting local norms and cultures? Khidki village may have witnessed a construction boom, but it is still essentially a village with a mix of urban professionals, young students and original villagers.
    Don’t respect local culture, but what about law?
    I feel if Somnath Bharti and his supporters beat these women up, they should face the music.
    But where is the proof? It’s just these women’s version. Bharti’s word versus theirs essentially.
    However, curiously, all the big papers Kafila commentators normally dislike are asking only Bharti of proof.
    No one is really speaking to the local residents, the RWAs and trying to get their side of the story. What is the need? Our erudite Left liberal politicians, Congress and their friends in the Sangh have found common ground as they often do.
    And then there are the arm-chair commentators who are just reporting hearsay and their take on the incident, which some would call bias, without any real legwork.
    Suddhabrata asks rhetorically if Bharti would dare raid houses in Malviya Nagar or Saket. Don’t know about Saket, but to my knowledge no overt soliciting is going on in Malviya Nagar.
    Yeah, I forgot Shuddha wants us to co-exist. I would, provided the hoodlums on the street don’t make it so unsafe for local women.
    Racism is a serious issue, but this case is just an example of latching a crime-related incident to the larger issue of discrimination with African students. No one is really making a case for attacking Africans. By citing what some local residents, not as evolved as Shuddha, may have mentioned in their ham-handed representation, as a proof of racism being the motivation behind the “raid”, the blogger is attempting to over-simplify the situation.
    Local residents have reached their tethers end with the presence of these anti-social elements and the daily brawls and the police apathy and refusal to act.
    Not just in the case of frivolous complaints against Africans, the police have not reacted to complaints about crimes.
    The reaction may have been stronger because these criminal activities are rather recent development and sort of transplanted from outside.
    I have nothing but sympathy for sex workers forced into what many are euphemistically calling the “oldest profession in the world”.
    Does it make a difference to you that many of these women have been forced into this by abject poverty, or simply trafficked, tricked and forced to work as sex slaves? Liberalism is usually good, and I agree with it. But not to the extent of supporting sex and drugs cartels.


    1. I agree with Sawmya’s perspectives. Somnath Bharti, Kumar Vishwas stand exposed for their ugly generalisations, but at least they are on the ground risking such expose. All suave Congress, BJP, and Left ministers are almost never seen on the field doing anything concrete.
      Those African women who are involved in sex work in Khirki are not the real culprits. Their pimps (involving both Indian & African men) are and so is the Delhi police. 99.99 per cent of the prostitutes are in reality victims of crimes (trafficking, trickery and violent threats to self and family). To this extent I find Somnath Bharti’s actions deplorable.
      But far more serious than Bharti’s and Vishwas’ crimes are the crimes of the Delhi police and the central government. I am very very very surprised at the lack of adequate critical coverage of their roles in any analytical piece on AAP ministers.


    2. So is the solution to that conducting a midnight raid , descend and demand (kh)AAP action ? And then demand dismissal of police officers who were for once in their life, out of whatever motivations, following law? Why should they be suspended for refusing to comply with a minister’s whims – isnt AAP against those ‘corrupt ministers’ who ‘run’ the police force instead of following due procedures? So if simply because you think the cause is just, it can violate minimum safegaurds gauranteed to all citizens living in a majoritarian democracy ? What guarantees that tomorrow just because an RWA feels justified in thinking a single woman living on her own , having friends come over, drinking, partying is a whore- it can invite Somnath to come and descend on the woman’s house at midnight , force tests on her and demand she be arrested simply because the minister and his RWA demands it? Where do you draw the line once this becomes the norm , given that most urban RWA’s in south delhi ‘mohallas’ are misogynist, racist, classisct and casteist ? Later it will be dirty slum dwellers emcroaching on aesthetics of these charmed colonies and who knows what next ? As long as middle class morality goes with it and as long as the middle classes’s are insulated from the riff raff outside , everything is fine? Are we back to the age of witch hunts and public trials and khaap panchayats?
      We can debate endlessly on how to deal with the law and order problem that arises of drug and sex rackets – so according to you there is no problem if society hides its darker belly inside posh south delhi homes? Are you so sure they are not ‘forced’ into this simply because its run as sophisticated call girl racket? And are you not aware that law and order problems in terms of actual sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence etc is equally if not more prevalent in posh gated south delhi communities? But how dare these women. , in absence of such access, openly solicit people on the streets and create a law and order problem in a decent mohalla? As long as they hide themselves in a ghetto and are subjected to violence and extortion by these hoodlums and pedlars in isolation, far away from any “decent ‘ house , its fine? Never mind what goes on in decent houses and never mind that prostitutes, hodlums, peddlars are all a byproduct of the moral and political economy which ensures the middle classes their charmed insulated existence.
      We can go on debating what and how, but NOTHING JUSTIFIES MOB ACTION OF THIS NATURE AGAINST A RELATIVELY POWERLESS AND VULNERABLE SECTION because the ‘aam aadmi (read middles class largely)’ is disturbed by their daring to intrude on its ‘blameless’ ‘spotless’ existential spehere.


      1. Thank you Shama, for your thoughtful and passionate intervention in this debate. I have been following all the discussion, and I totally agree with you in terms of the fact that I see the raid on the African residents of Delhi as the beginning of a possibly horrible chain of events.

        I want to make another point. A lot of people are talking about what they call ‘sex rackets’. As far as I am concerned, what happens between consenting adults is their business, regardless of whether it is as a favour, for money, for pleasure, for recreation, procreation or for attaining spiritual or exalted physical states of being. The only situation where for me, sex is wrong, and a racket, is when anyone is forced to have sex.

        If you ask me what would be a sex crime – then I would say any coerced sex, where someone is forced to have sex against their will, is a sex crime. From that point of view, the entire institution of arranged marriage, which forces millions of people into a so called ‘legitimate’ sexual relationship, not necessarily with the consent of those who are being made to marry, is the biggest ‘sex racket’ there is. I do not see the moral police of the Aaam Aadmi Party going on midnight raids asking whether or not people have been made to have sex in marriage without their consent. The day I see that, will be the day that I take their bullshit about morality seriously.


  11. Wonder why u heap criticism on aap but convenient ly remain silent on the corrupt and non functional Delhi police. Or is it not important to deal with citizens issues but wax eloquent on international causes.


  12. And by the way have u ever tried to be honest about the shameless track record of the CPM goons and cadres in west Bengal given your love for the left movements?


  13. Sunil,
    It is always better to do some homework before launching into accusations. That way you could have avoided making a fool of yourself. Kafila is known for having been an outspoken critic of the organized left, especially the CPM as well as of the police (not just Delhi police but especially Delhi Police). The author of the above post has personally written enough posts on both these. There are, on kafila, close to a hundred posts on Delhi police related matters and at least a fifty on the CPM!


  14. You have articulated the fears of having a set of people in power who seem to have abdicated all sense of responsibility.

    The moral policing is like a Khap panchayat that you have in Haryana.

    Let us wait and watch how the #aapdrama unfolds.


  15. The real wrong of Somnath Bharti is in having biased and ugly impressions of Africans and black-coloured people in general. For the illegal treatment of the Ugandan women in their home and then being forced into a vehicle too Somnath Bharti is responsible directy (if he did this himself along with others) or indirectly (with his supporters getting the courage to do this because of Bharti’s presence).

    The AAP is wrong on the count of going by the logic that the police should have followed the directions of the state goverment Minister. This is very wrong.

    But Bharti is not wrong in following up on the complaints of Khirki residents that there was a dangerous situation being created on the streets of their locality due to the fact that several outsider men (mostly hoodlums) were coming to their locatlity because of the open solicitation by some prostitutes (who happened to be Africans) on the streets of their locality. Other female residents of the locality were facing very ugly forms of harrasment by outsiders visitng their locality for the prostitutes. Is it their fault that they should suffer because of the prosittution going on openly on the streets? Is it not the police’s constitutional job to ensure their rights and dignity? Are they clildren of a lesser God?

    The prostitutes are, of course, not doing soliciting out of their own volition but being forced to do so by the pimps who control them. The pimps may or may not be staying in the same locality but the local police would know who they are. These pimps are very likely paying off the police heavily (large porportions of which go directly to the home ministry and the ruling party). The mid-night timing of the action by Bharti and local residents was due to the fact that solicitation goes on heavily at that time and is clearly visible to anyone who can see with their eyes.

    It is important to under the police’s refusal to listen to Bharti Were they doing so because of concern of human rights? A vast majority of the prostitutes are vicitims of a serious crime — that of illegal trafficking. In all cases of trafficking, the sex is forced upon the woman whether or not the woman is objecting to the act at that point in time or not. I hope those who abhor corced sex have the sensitivity to see this ugly reality in prostitution.

    Has any one in the Delhi police or has any signficant portion of BJP-Congress critics of AAP ever helped in freeing these prositutes from their prisons? Is it not the constitutional duty of Delhi police and the central government to ensure justice to victims of human trafficking? If they haven’t done this already so far, do we have to blindly believe that the police SHO did not listen to Bharti’s orders because he was concerned about violation of human rights of the prostitutes? Of course, Bharti and local residents should have also seen the difference between prostitutes and pimps and acted accordingly and it is extremely unfortunate that they did not do so. But we must remember that neither Bharti nor the local residents have the necessary wherewithal to go after the pimps who are backed by powerful and dangerous political elements.

    In all of the above, add the second deadly element of drugs. Are we absolutely certain that only harmless marijuana was being sold and consumed by the pimps/pedlars on the streets over there? Were there no other deadly drugs being sold over there? And if deadly drugs were being sold are we blind to the devastating effects drug addiction is having on youth of this country and all other countries in the world?

    The AAP was wrong in defending Bharti’s thinking and in demanding that police listed to its Ministers. But AAP is not wrong in saying Delhi police is completely sold to the drug and trafficking mafia backed by central government politicians. In December 2012 when Sheila Dikshit also pointed out to the fact that Delhi police was under state government control, Kejriwal still went hammer and tongs on her over the issue of women safety. But should he therefore now not do anything about it? Is it wrong to demand now that Delhi police should be under state government control? Not that state governments do not manipulate the state police, but still why should Delhi be different? If the central government is concerned about the safety of Parliament and other central government buldings and residences of central ministers then let there be a separate police force governing and policing only those areas.

    The AAP should remove Bharti from the law minister post. It should have done it on day one itself and still gone on dharna.


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