“It is here that they realise painfully what it is to be in the minority.”
So says Rama Lakshmi, one of the editors writing in The Print, referring to killings of RSS/BJP workers in Bengal and Kerala. Do I detect a licking of the lips, a subtle sense of relish in her words?
Fortunately, Ms Rama Lakshmi also has the sense to add “That is no justification, it is an explanation.”
This kind of reaction from liberals has been typical, in the handful of cases where liberals have had the decency to even react on what has been happening in Bengal.
A left-wing celebrity getting trolled on Twitter is an outrage. A statue of Lenin being torn down is a national emergency. An ISIS style execution of political dissidents in Bengal is a mere statistic.
Let that sink in.
Of the trickle of coverage that these gruesome murders received in the media, the story was almost invariably presented through a series of claims and counterclaims, with the claims of the ruling TMC getting more prominent billing. The objective is clear: to obfuscate the situation, to somehow try and call it even and make it look like the truth is somewhere in between. That “all is well” in Bengal.
The cycle of violence! The cycle of violence!
The shrieking is non-stop when liberals are pressed to speak on the issue of what is happening in Bengal. As if political violence in Bengal is some kind of natural calamity or academic curiosity. As if the massacre of BJP workers in Bengal is to be studied with the dispassionate gaze of a scientist analyzing the food chain; how little animals are eaten up by bigger ones and have always been.
Articles, books, papers. Sociological reasons. Murder of BJP workers is a matter of academic interest, not a human one. The dehumanization of the BJP worker is complete.
The cycle of violence, they say. Next time, stop them and ask: what cycle in Bengal? Are you referring to violence unleashed by Congress in the 70s, by the Communists from 1977–2011 and by the TMC thereafter?
That’s not a cycle. That’s a straight line. A single straight line of political violence perpetrated first by the Congress and then followed by two of its allies. All three parties are part of India’s secular establishment.
Islamic terrorists based in Pakistan have often attacked bases of the Pakistani Army and even killed their children. The Pakistani Army, in turn, has carried out numerous strikes on Islamic terrorists, especially those based in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas. That does not make it a ‘cycle of violence.’ The symbiotic relationship between Pakistan’s Army and Islamic terrorists is irrefutable.
Same in Bengal where the secular establishment has been carrying out violence for 70 years straight. There’s no cycle. It’s one straight line.
The secular establishment should own up to what they have done in Bengal and be held to account for it.
The answer from the secular establishment has been to systematically dehumanize the BJP worker. When Prashant Poojary was killed in Karnataka in 2015, one celebrity journalist wrote a signed article explaining why there should not be intense coverage of the murder. Apparently, because his murder apparently has “political context.”
However, the “political context” excuse did not apply to … say Burhan Wani … a certified terrorist neutralized by the Indian Army. It does not apply when violent stone pelters accidentally get crushed under the wheels of security forces. It did not even apply to Yakub Memon, convicted for his role in the massacre of literally hundreds of innocent people.
The murder of Gauri Lankesh received intense wall to wall coverage precisely because liberals suspected that her murder might have a political context.
See? ‘Political context’ can be a reason both for giving less coverage to a murder AND for giving more coverage to a murder?
The real message is that while all human lives are equal, some human lives are more equal than others.
So what do I want the Hindu right wing and its supporters to gather from what I have written above? What is the essence? Is this just another article ‘exposing liberal hypocrisy’?
No, it’s not. I am trying to get the Hindu right wing to realize that we have been dehumanized by the liberal class. That’s what it literally is: dehumanization. This is very very far beyond the point of ordinary hypocrisy.
The Hindu right wing needs to realize that the average liberal no longer sees us as human beings. This realization is important because we need to understand their perspective. They don’t care about killings of BJP workers for the same reason that most people don’t care about the killing of chickens. The modern liberal establishment sees the Hindu right winger as just another animal. Worse, we are more like pests they would rather see exterminated.
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.