PM Modi’s silence emboldens goons like Karni Sena

If the PM is silent in the face of the widespread denial and suppression of people's rights, the government and non government actors can and do easily become complicit in it.

Written by Ujjal Dosanjh | Updated: January 31, 2017 1:50 pm
sanjay leela bhansali, narendra modi, modi, bhansali, padmavati controversy, bhansali slapped, bhansali attacked, karni sena, rajput group attacks bhansali, Shri Rajput Karni Sena, karni sena background, india news Karni Sena activists protest against the shooting of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upconimg film ‘Padmavati’ alleging depiction of ‘wrong facts’ in it at Jaigarh fort in Jaipur. (Source: PTI)

I accuse Prime Minister Modi of being the reason Sanjay Leela Bhansali was slapped and his Padmavati set damaged. I am quite sane, I assure you. The Prime Minister is guilty in Bhansali being assaulted in broad day light at Jaipur. He is also responsible for the murder of Mohammed Akhlaq, the attacks on the freedom of Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan to express themselves, attack on SRK and Karan Johar for having Pakistanis work in their movies, the killing and silencing of scholars and rationalists, the terrible assault on Dalits for skinning dead cows, the charges of sedition against Kanhaiya Kumar and scores of other tragedies and incidents involving right wing religious goons becoming law unto themselves to perpetrate misery and violence upon innocent people whose actions or words goons deem offensive to their view of history, politics, philosophy and religion. They kill, as in Akhlaq’s case, for eating the ‘wrong’ thing.

WATCH VIDEO | MoS Giriraj Singh Backs Protests Against Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati

The Prime Minister has been inexplicably silent on the above mentioned and numerous other incidents of religious and communal thugs insulting, frightening, bullying, assaulting, killing or otherwise terrorising simple, decent and honest Indians going about their daily personal and professional lives. In active political life at the head of the country’s government, PM’s silence is neither desirable nor appropriate. It is worthy of condemnation; silence, you see, is acquiescence. So India’s Prime Minister by his unusual silence about the communal and religious hate crimes–which is what the attack on Bhansali was–is tantamount to acquiescence in them. That is why I accuse him of guilt in these crimes –at the very least, moral and ethical guilt.We know the Constitution of India grants, and guarantees, certain fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and assembly to Indian citizens. But without a government and its entire machinery willing to stand behind it, the constitutional guarantee is meaningless. In that sense, as the head of the government, the Prime Minister is the Guarantor-in-Chief of the fundamental rights of Indians. He is the articulator-in -chief of the peoples’ basic freedoms and their inviolability. The whole machinery of the State takes its cue from the PM. If the PM is silent in the face of the widespread denial and suppression of people’s rights, the government and non government actors can and do easily become complicit in it.

That is exactly what has been happening in India for the duration of the Modi mandate. Akhlaq was butchered for eating beef, but Modi didn’t stand up for him. Scholars and rationalists were threatened, beaten and killed,but he didn’t leap to their defence. Dalits were humiliated and severely assaulted for skinning dead cows, but he didn’t immediately come to their rescue. Aamir Khan was charged with sedition for sharing his innermost fears for India and SRK and Karan Johar were forced to bow to the illegal diktats of self styled enforcers of a twisted brand of patriotism, but Modi didn’t speak up for them. Rohit Vemula of Hyderabad University died and Kanhaiya Kumar of JNU was persecuted and prosecuted for exercising his freedoms; but Mr. Modi didn’t see fit to call the RSS/BJP brigades to restore peace at JNU or Hyderabad University.

Watch | Sanjay Leela Bhansali Slapped And Assaulted By Protesters On Padmavati Sets In Jaipur

It should therefore not have been at all shocking that Bhansali was so brazenly attacked. In India, the right wing religious terror seems to have descended from Twitter and Facebook pages into the neighbourhoods. It seems to have mushroomed to a more sinister level in the last few years. The communal fervour and fever is continuously being unleashed. The Modi regime usually chooses to look the other way. It also never misses an opportunity to add more fuel to the fire of the communal polarisation and tension; the latest salvo of its communal mischief being its UP election manifesto tinged with religious hue, among other things, promising once again to build the Ram Mandir; a secular state in the business of religion!

The Modi government doesn’t stand behind the rights and freedoms of ordinary people guaranteed by the constitution. Modi, like any other Prime Minister is the Trustee of the legacy of the founders of India and the makers of its constitution. Along with ensuring robust defence of India’s borders, wise and energetic stewardship of its economy, and safety and security of peoples’ lives, he has a fundamental obligation to protect the rights and freedoms of Indians and ensure that each and every one of them, regardless of religion, region, class, caste, colour, language, political views or philosophical beliefs can fearlessly and freely enjoy those rights. But those rights and freedoms are daily being violated by the various Hindutva brigades or their cousins such as Shiv and MN Sena.; in Bhansali’s attack it was Karni Sena. Tomorrow it could be an equally bad, if not worse, Kehni Sena. The Hindutva Brigades, the darlings of the BJP/RSS regime, are wreaking havoc in India with their kehni and karni. It is all happening under PM Modi’s watch; and he maintains his silence. He hasn’t shown any real appreciation of his moral and ethical obligation as the leader of the country to robustly defend civility and peoples’ rights in the debates that rage in the country. He should be the expresser in chief of righteous indignation at the blatant suppression and denial of the fundamental rights of Indians by the self anointed censors, and definers of Indian patriotism and other sundry scoundrels that constantly and with impunity continue to ride rough shod over peoples’ rights.

That the Karni Sena goons attacked Bhansali in the act of shooting his film, and that the police were happy at him abandoning the shoot and leaving Jaipur promising never to return, makes it crystal clear that the violent suppressors of people’s liberties take their cue from the powers that be. The long practiced silence of the Prime Minister in the matter of the protection of peoples’ rights and liberties in the face of the recurring attacks by the Karni Senas and their ilk embolden them to continue to violate peoples’ civil liberties and rights. It also sends a message to various branches of government to turn a blind eye to it all. That is why even the Jaipur police knew not to offer protection to Bhansali. They knew from the history of such inexcusable incidents in the Modi mandate that India has a PM completely drowned in the dereliction of his fundamental obligations in regards to the protection of people’s liberties and rights. He can’t find it in himself to stand up at all for the rights of all Indians to live in peace, freedom and equality. In these matters the expresser-in-chief of BJP remains a mute-in chief for India–a picture of silence; the articulate orator in chief for the BJP turns into a totally inarticulate PM.

For India’s sake, Modi must don the mantle of moral and ethical leadership expected of a Prime Minister. India demands it; Indians deserve it. Otherwise there will be many more Bhansalis slapped and run out of town–crimes for which Modi will be deemed guilty. This sorry state of affairs will continue until India finds a new and bolder defender-in -chief of the constitution and peoples’ rights it so eloquently guarantees.

Views expressed by the author are personal.

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