Every newspaper in India carried the same headline on Friday, the 9th of October: ‘Modi breaks silence on Dadri lynching.’ It says something about the breathless desperation of the Indian press to hear the prime minister say something, anything, that could be interpreted as his disapproval of political barbarism, that there wasn’t, in fact, a word in his speech about the Dadri lynching. – Mukul Kesavan in ndtv.com
You know what has been agitating the minds of millions of us, Indians — the future of our pluralism. You have stated your position in terms of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas‘. And this is quoted and cited on your behalf repeatedly as a mantra. But, Pradhan Mantriji, this is certainly not adequate. We need to hear you, our Prime Minister, directly and clearly and with an urgent reference to the present situation, which is nothing less than a tragedy. Over the last few months we have had more than one tragedy. Can we really not see the connections between the so-called stray incidences all over the country, from the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi to that of Mohammad Akhlaq. Your direct voice needs to be heard now, unless you do not consider this an event of significance. And now, the ambiguity of what you said yesterday only makes me send you this appeal for your truthful intervention. TM Krishna’s Open Letter to the Prime Minister
While Modi’s cheer leaders in the media were telling us that the prime minister had finally ‘broken his silence’ (see Apoorvanand’s piece on this here), there were others who read the meaning of his speech far more accurately.They knew exactly what Modi was saying; they knew without having to do a content analysis of His speech that, if anything, despite being shamed to an extent by the President, Pranab Mukherjee’s statement the previous day, he actually refused to say anything about the Dadri incident let alone condemn the crime or its perpetrators. They understood clearly that his speech was merely a continuation of his sinister and devious silence. They understood like no media commentator or analyst did that what he said in Munger was a green signal for them to go ahead with their activities. Thus what happened in Mainpuri today is nothing to be surprised about.
The Huffington Post reports that
Just like in Dadri, rumours of cow slaughter led to a riot-like situation in Karhal. According to a report on The Times of India, a mob chased and nearly killed four men they suspected of slaughtering a cow. Two of the victims were admitted to the local hospital in a critical condition.
The carnage didn’t stop there. The mob set several shops on fire and even attacked the police. The residents of Nagaria village in Karhal set police jeeps on fire and damaged several other vehicles, police said.
Like Mukul Kesavan and TM Krishna, some like me too were a bit befuddled to read the actual news reports that followed the headlines after Modi’s Munger speech. Where precisely had he said anything about the Dadri incident? What was it that the media was going rapturous about? Mukul Kesavan puts it to the ‘breathless desperation’ of the media to hear the prime minister say something – anything, actually. But what strikes one after Mainpuri in particular, is that this perhaps the true meaning of the ‘Gujarat Model’? The Gujarat model that was perfected since the 2002 carnage, especially in the run-up to the 2014 election, was not really economic. It was a model in which the figure of Modi was carefully crafted in such a way as to demonstrate that he was always above all that had happened. An entire army of ‘intellectuals’ and media persons was drafted in this game to carry out a campaign to the effect that Modi himself had actually taken on the rabid Hindutva brigade (the Togadias, for example) and that he had nothing to do with the massacres of 2002. His army of trolls was drafted to invade all virtual spaces where any criticism of Modi with regard to 2002 was being made, in order to ‘shout down’ any body who dared to implicate His Lordship in petty, mundane matters. He was exalted to the status of a god who simply stood above the muck of everyday life. Even those who had initially held him responsible in 2002, eventually started arguing that they had in fact, been mistaken in their belief.
That is why a crucial element in the image makeover for Modi that was effected in that period had to do with the building of this persona of a leader who will keep himself away from all controversy and let others do the talking – now a Mahesh Sharma, now Rajnath Singh or an Arun Jaitley. Occasionally a Gadkari will come in to spout philosophical wisdom, sounding almost Buddhist, saying that ‘sometimes the correct thing would be silence’! Modi’s silence was not Manmohan Singh’s silence. This silence is sinister and devious; it is meant to convey to his storm-troopers that he stands by them, whatever they do. It is not an act of omission but one of active connivance.
Within a few days of the Dadri episode, the investigative websites Cobra Post and Gulail came out with their report based on extensive sting interviews with Hindutva activists and leaders, which show their active involvement in instigating and executing ‘riots’ (a euphemism for anti-minority attacks). Surely the Silent One has heard of these; surely his entourage has detailed reports of these reports. Here is a glimpse from Citizen.in of what these reports say:
A joint expose’ on film by investigative media Cobra Post and Gulail, has revealed that the recent spate of acts of violence from Muzaffarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh to Mangalore in Karnataka, have been meticulously organised by a network of kindred Hindutva organisations.
The usual suspects, members of the RSS, BJP, Hindu Mahasabha, Hindu Jagaran Manch, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, and Vishwa Hindu parishad (VHP) are captured on hidden camera used by reporters of Cobra Post and Gulail. These short ‘sting’ interviews were shown to the media in Delhi at the Press Club.
‘Operation Juliet’, the name given to the collaborative ‘sting’, was primarily done in Western UP and Southern cities of Mangalore and Ernakulam, among many others. Shazia Nigar, reporter for Gulail, met various foot soldiers and lieutenants of the aforementioned organizations who can be seen boasting of their mettle for fomenting riots, making incendiary speeches, and other methods used to polarise religious communities.
Meanwhile, it is heartening, to see that a large number of writers have taken a strong stand against this silence which extends from the murders of Pansare, Dabholkar and Kalburgi to Akhlaq’s lynching in Dadri. The writers who have returned their awards and those who have resigned from Sahitya Akademi (see reports here and here), have taken a strong and exemplary stand and have our wholehearted support. There is hope in this round of protests and it shows that not everyone is prepared to play footsie with power. The Emperor and his collaborators may believe what they want to but it is clear that for more and more people, he stands naked in his new clothes.