Tag Archives: Dadri

Self and Other : Indus Chadha

This is a guest post by INDUS CHADHA

The summer that I was 5-years-old, I took my first flight alone because I wanted to spend my holidays with my grandparents. My parents prepared me well—they even read aloud and recorded my favourite stories on an audio cassette which we put into our Walkman for my long solo journey. But there was one question they neglected to answer. “What should I do if the flight crashes?” I had asked. “It won’t…” they had brushed my question away. So when the flight attendant came out into the aisle and announced that one of our engines had failed and we would have to turn back to our point of origin to make an emergency landing—I wondered what I should do.

A man a few rows ahead of me got up from his seat and started shouting at the flight attendant. He was obviously afraid and seemed to hope oddly that he could frighten some comfort out of her. I remember him saying over and over again that he had a young child with him on the flight and that made me conscious of both the gravity of the situation and the fact that I was so young and all alone. I felt tears start to well up in my throat and took small sips of my orange juice to wash down the urge to cry. And then, out of the blue, the young man sitting beside me started talking to me. He asked me what I was studying at school and when I told him our theme for the last term had been pirates he exclaimed that he was a ‘shippie’ and knew all about them.

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Statement by Academics Against Intolerance

In light of the recent spate of killings of noted writers and intellectuals M M Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, and Narendra Dabholkar, and the Dadri lynching incident followed by forced nation-wide attempts at cultural policing, we feel that the current political dispensation headed by the Prime Minister is mandating an atmosphere of violence and fear. Continue reading Statement by Academics Against Intolerance

You are wrong Mr Prime Minister – It was not a fight, but plain murder : Sanjay Kumar

Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar 

In an election rally in Bihar on 8 October, country’s Prime Minister exhorted his audience with a homily pretty standard in India’s secular discourse. He asked Hindus and Muslims to decide whether they want to fight each other, or fight poverty together. His call against communal strife had come ten days after a Muslim man was lynched by a mob in Bisada, a village near the mofussil town of Dadri, 50 km from the national capital. There was no reference to events in Bisada in Mr Modi’s speech, yet ‘PM has spoken on Dadri lynching’ became the prime news on TV, and headline news in every newspaper the next day. If nations are imagined communities, then the media in the neo-liberal era imagines itself to be the prime mover and shaker of national imagination. And, when the ‘national leadership’ had remained silent on an important national news for more than a week, a subtle disquiet had indeed settled; as if, the story maker was not getting suitable yarn to complete the web and tie open leads. This may explain media’s eagerness to combine Mr Modi’s election rally remarks with Dadri lynching, about which he actually said nothing. Perhaps the media is expecting too much, and has a rather pompous self image. The women of Bisada had assaulted reporters and TV crews on 3 October, accusing them of presenting only one side of the story, bringing a bad name to their village and disrupting normal life. We have a Prime Minister who is pained even when a pup is killed under a motor car. Is not it unjust to expect him to express his anguish publicly every time some one is murdered in this  huge country of ours? The PM has declared many times that his one motivation and project is to build a strong and vibrant India. Should not his country men and women be content with the nation’s highest elected official using his exemplary social media skills for projecting a happy and confident mood. Would not shouting from the roof top on issues about which he is genuinely worried tarnish the very image he has been so painstakingly trying to build? Continue reading You are wrong Mr Prime Minister – It was not a fight, but plain murder : Sanjay Kumar

The Indian Unconscious : Ravi Sinha

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

There is yet another head on the political platter of the world’s largest democracy. This head is not metaphorical. It does not signify a disgraced leader or a government that has fallen. It is a literal head dripping with literal blood – battered with bricks that supported a leg-less bed. The bed belonged to one Muhammad Akhlaq who lived in a village called Basehara in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, not too far from the national capital of India. The head too belonged to him.

It has been only a few days but this latest episode in the long-running Indian serial is already well-known to the world. On a late September night it was announced over the loudspeakers of the village temple that there was going to be beef on Akhlaq’s dinner plate. A mob hundreds-strong – some say thousands – gathered within no time. It attacked the family killing Akhlaq on the spot and badly injuring his son, Danish.

In the meantime, meat-loafs confiscated from the family fridge have been sent for forensic examination. The system of justice must check whether it actually was beef, although, as one commentator points out, “…mere possession of beef isn’t illegal in Uttar Pradesh.”[1] Shedding helpful light on feebly lit corners of the Hindu moral universe, a prominent Hindutva ideologue wrote in a national daily, “Lynching a person merely on suspicion is absolutely wrong, the antithesis of all that India stands for and all that Hinduism preaches.”[2] The lynch-mob should have waited till the forensic reports came.

A few suspects have been apprehended for the murder. This has made the village livid with anger. There are protestations that those arrested are innocent. Journalists have been attacked for making such a big thing out of a small matter and bringing a bad name to the village. Cameras have been broken and OB vans damaged. There is a pertinacious wall of angry women guarding the village against any further intrusion by outsiders who can neither understand the village mind nor the Indian culture.

It is not easy to understand the collective mind of an Indian village. Even learned anthropologists are of little help. Their ethnographic techniques of studying a form of life from its internal standpoint are particularly susceptible to the rationalizations of a complex cultural species. If anyone has a chance, it would, perhaps, be a villager who has stepped out – an Archimedean Point created out of the same cultural universe. Ravish Kumar, by now a near iconic journalist and anchor of a prominent Hindi news channel, stood out for this very reason.[3] His eyes could see the natural rhythm and the instinctual response of an Indian village in the immediate aftermath of a collective crime. Nearly everyone had disappeared from the village. Whoever could be found claimed that he was miles away at the time of the incident. The lynch-mob had materialized instantaneously out of thin air. It had as quickly melted away after the job was done. Everyone has now returned to defend the honor of the village and strategize about how to deal with the unwarranted intrusions of modernity including that of the law. Continue reading The Indian Unconscious : Ravi Sinha