COVER FEATURE

Muted "Reprimands" Punctuate Unstoppable Hate-Speech 

There have been so many instances of hate-speech over Dadri, it is easy to forget. Let’s remember some of them – and put Jaitley’s and Shah’s ‘reprimands’ in perspective. 

“When we hurt people’s sentiments, such clashes take place. Whose blood won’t boil if they see cow slaughter?” -Shrichand Sharma, vice-president of BJP’s western UP unit.

“If cow slaughter and its consumption is proven, they (the victim and his family) are definitely at fault. There is a ban on slaughter of cows and this concerns the faith of Hindus. It is obvious that such an incident will lead to anger among people and there will be communal tension. If this was the case, the family is in the wrong. If they have consumed beef, they are also responsible. This is a village of Thakurs and they express their sentiments in a very strong way. If they have done this, they should have kept in mind what the reaction would be.” -Nawab Singh Nagar, former BJP MLA.

“It is an accident and it should be probed by CBI or state and guilty should be punished. Innocents should not be victimised in the name of investigation. It (the murder) took place as a reaction to that incident (cow slaughter). You must also consider that there was also a 17-year-old daughter in that home. No one lifted a finger to touch her.” - Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister for Culture

“The law should act as law. Otherwise, we have given a strong reply in the past and would do that in future as well...They (the Akhlaq family) were taken by the Uttar Pradesh government (to Lucknow) in an airplane. How they treated the accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, they are treating those who have slaughtered a cow the same way.” - Sangeet Som, BJP MLA and Muzaffarnagar riot-accused

“Why responsibility to keep peace and maintain calm is always put on the Hindus alone? Be a victim and maintain silence in face of assaults!” – Tarun Vijay, BJP MP on Twitter, telling Muslims that they were no longer ‘victims’ if they protested   

“We will go (to Dadri) and meet Hindus who are being harassed by authorities. We will provide them all possible help, be it tan-man-dhan-gun (physical-mental-financial support including guns – ed/), if they are harassed.” - Jitendra Tyagi, leader of Hindu Yuva Vahini founded by BJP MP Yogi Adityanath

“(Dadri) should not have happened, from both sides. There shouldn’t have been a loose comment about the cow. …Muslims can live here, but in this country, they will have to stop eating beef….if someone eats openly, it will be opposed. So this opposition would have been there in Dadri also.” – Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar

“J&K independent MLA’s assault was just a reaction. His action… hurt the masses and he was beaten up -  Leaders need to change their mindset or get beaten up by the people in full public view…A strong law should be put in place to hang people responsible for cow slaughter.” – Sakshi Maharaj

“…madrasas and the Muslim leadership teach Indian Muslims to hate the country’s traditions. Akhlaq perhaps slaughtered a cow under the influence of such bad deeds …Vedas order killing of the sinner who kills a cow. …the (Dadri) killing was a natural reaction to the sin of cow slaughter…Newton had propagated the theory of natural reaction to any action in 1687. You did not consider how Akhlaq, living in a society that has such feelings for the cow), became eager to commit a sin that invites such dreadful consequences….if you do not respect the feelings of 80 per cent majority, how can such reactions be prevented? Society does not consider those who kill the sinner who have slaughtered a cow from the perspective of advocates of appeasement; society glorifies and remembers those who were martyred to prevent cow-slaughter.” – Vinay Krishna Chaturvedi in RSS organ Panchjanya

“There is a difference between a man’s relationship with his wife and that with his sister. Similarly, there is a distinction between meat of goat and cow.” - Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Giriraj Singh  

(On Lalu Yadav’s ‘Hindus eat beef’ remark): “In Gujarat yaduvanshis (people of yadav caste) have brought white revolution while rearing cows and “Amul” has been possible only because of the yaduvanshis. But, here (in Bihar) we don’t know what he (Lalu Prasad) has eaten up…he has derogated yaduvanshis. Don’t forget that it was the yaduvanshis had supported you and took to power” – Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister

To formally distance the BJP and Modi Government from this spate of hate-speech and rationalization of the Dadri lynching, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley first said that the lynching “was not good for India’s image,” specifically the image of the Modi Government’s ‘development’ agenda. As a fig leaf for those who seek to persuade themselves to continue supporting the Modi Government in spite of Dadri, he later added that BJP President Amit Shah had summoned and “put on notice” some BJP leaders to let them know that “that their statements are not appreciated by the party at all.”

But, the supposed ‘reprimand’ has been water off a duck’s back – having an effect only on those wishing to retain a delusion that the hate-speech does not have the Modi Government’s blessing. Sangeet Som declared, “There was no question of reprimanding! Reprimanding happens when you have done something wrong.” Sakshi Maharaj said, “The way some media houses have reported about the meeting insinuating me being reprimanded or scolded, is not responsible reportage….I am a sanyasi. He [Shah] looked at me and I looked at him. That was it.”

Remember, the hate-mongers were chosen as BJP leaders precisely because of their proven track reord of hate-mongering and communal violence. Sangeet Som is an accused in the Muzaffarnagar communal violence that helped Modi win the Lok Sabha elections. Adityanath and his Hindu Yuva Vahini have a long record of both hate-speech and communal violence in Gorakhpur and UP. Sakshi Maharaj too is an old offender.

Above all, Modi, Shah, and Jaitley are all silent on the RSS’ brazen defence of the Dadri lynching. The RSS has of course tried to pretend that the Panchjanya is not an RSS organ – much as they sometimes claim the BJP is not their electoral front. This, in spite of the fact that prominent RSS leaders have edited Panchjanya and Organiser, and one such editor Tarun Vijay is now a BJP MP, who also sought to trivialize the Dadri lynching.

Can we forget that just last month, top Ministers of the Modi cabinet, made presentations behind closed doors to the RSS in a 3-day review meeting? The same Arun Jaitley who claims to rap Som and Sakshi on the knuckles, made deferential ‘presentations’ for the scrutiny of RSS leaders who are heading the outfits that are orchestrating violence all over India over ‘cow smuggling/slaughter’ and ‘beef.’ He can hardly presume to ‘put on notice’ his own bosses.

Meanwhile scores of videos uploaded and circulated by ‘Gau Raksha Dal’ outfits on the internet film and celebrate real-life lynchings of truck drivers in Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and elsewhere. The RSS that disclaims even Panchjanya when called for, can of course deny any connection to these ‘cow protection militia.’ These videos openly have captions like ‘We will kill all those who slaughter cows’; ‘Tonsuring and blackening the face of cow-killing Mullas’; ‘soldiers of the cow protection army give cow-killers a punishment worse than death’; and ‘Bajrang Dal beats up a miya.’ These videos openly use communal hate-speech for Muslims and call for lynching and killing of Muslims. In these videos, police are seen as spectators – mute participants. These videos and the grim reality of the lynchings of Akhlaq, Noman and Zahid can leave us in no doub that ‘cow protection’ for the RSS is code for communal murder.              

Jaitley’s or Shah’s calibrated condemnations and reprimands merely serve as punctuation marks for the unbridled spate of hate-speech by their RSS and BJP colleagues, openly inciting and rationalizing communal mob murder.  

Meanwhile, a Bajrang Dal member Prashanth Poojary has been hacked to death in Moodbidri Karnataka. This murder is indeed condemnable in the strongest terms. But what sticks out a mile is that no one – either from the BJP or other parties – has called that murder an ‘accident.’ No Chief Minister or MP has said Poojary got his just desserts for being a Bajrang Dal member or otherwise rationalized the killing. The Sangh thinks Moodbidri exposes the hypocrisy of those expressing outrage over Dadri. But in fact what it has exposed is Sangh’s own hypocrisy and double standards. The Sangh calls Poojary a martyr and is loud in their campaign on social media against that murder – contrast this with their victim-blaming over Dadri.