Yesterday, we had reported on the morbid report by Ajaz Ashraf of The Caravan where had conducted a ‘caste analysis’ of our martyred soldiers. In his report, the author mentioned calling the families of the deceased to inquire about their caste.
There are certain extremely troubling aspects to the morbid saga. In the 21st century, wars are not fought merely with guns and missiles, propaganda is also a powerful weapon in the arsenal of those who can wield it.
There has been a surge of nationalistic sentiments across the country as people have united behind the Indian Army and the government irrespective of caste, class, creed, region or language. A patriotic fervour has gripped the nation and people are baying for the blood of those who organized the heinous terror attack.
For an enemy nation, it is a troubling development. As long as Indians remain divided, we are weak. As long as our polity is in a state of chaos, it will keep producing weak governments which are incapable of taking decisive actions. Should Indians unite behind the Army and the government unequivocally, however, and that government is run by a party that has a majority on its own in the Parliament, it won’t be conducive to the interests of an enemy state.
Therefore, in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, what could enemy nations do to sow seeds of division within the country? Of course, exploit India’s fault lines and subject even the Indian Armed Forces to those fault lines. In this light, Ajaz Ashraf’s article not only is sheer and utter morbidity, but it also comes across directly as enemy propaganda at a time when the clouds of war are rumbling in the sky.
It’s not paranoia to assume that Pakistan has cultivated some assets in Indian media. There are certainly Pakistani agents working in Indian mainstream media today. Former Navy Chief Admiral D.K. Joshi in a now deleted interview with NDTV had hinted at it. During the interview, which was the first since he resigned from service following a fire incident aboard INS Sindhurakshak citing “moral responsibility”. He talked about a reporter who “invented the coup theory” and was a “darling of the foreign vendors, and to show his importance he would author articles like the reporter is in country abc at the invitation of xyz”.
Such things have happened throughout history and we would be far too naive if we imagine ourselves to be so special that history will make an exception for us and gift us a mainstream media where all journalists and all outlets are aligned to our interests. Ashraf’s report, regardless of his motivations, plays right into the hands of Pakistan. And that is a cause for significant concern.
What is most concerning about Ashraf’s report is that the argument could be very well made that a Muslim slaughtered a disproportionate number of Dalits because he considered them ‘cow-piss drinkers’. However, he does not toe that line. Instead, he blames the Upper Castes for the death of the soldiers while completely ignoring the religion of the terrorist. Such people also tell us the Muslim community is facing immense oppression from fascistic ‘Brahmanical oppression’. Therefore, in a heinous terrorist attack committed by a devoted Muslim, the Upper Caste become the villains who oppressed Muslims into becoming terrorists and manipulates Dalits into sacrificing their lives. Such tactics are straight out of the enemy playbook.
Article essentially issued a warning to the lower caste Hindus – if you don’t want to get killed in Jihad, stop feeling one with the upper-caste Hindus. It will further be used to talk about mythical Dalit-Muslim unity that is another pet project of the enemy.
In India, many politicians try it for personal political ambitions. However, Dalit-Muslim unity has long been the dream project of those who wish to dent the territorial integrity of India. Our ‘secular’ political poster-boys have been long playing it right into enemy hands by fueling this propaganda. It does not work on the ground of course. Because Dalits suffer the brunt of Islamic fanaticism suffers the most. However, a portrait is painted where it’s the ‘Evil Brahmin’ who oppresses the Muslims into becoming radicalized who then attacks oppressed Dalits.
It is not a coincidence that propagators of Dalit-Muslim unity maintain a stoic silence over the many occasions when fanatic Muslims have attacked Dalit homes, abducted Dalit girls for Love Jihad and their religious processions. It’s all part of the plan. However, it’s time that we, as a country, start asking whether such propaganda is run merely for electoral gains or if they are actually in cohorts with our enemies.
Some questions have to be asked about Ajaz Ashraf as well. It’s well known that the Pakistanis have many many sympathizers and foot soldiers in our country. It’s unfortunate but it’s also true that an overwhelming majority of them belong to a particular community, the same community that Ashraf is a part of. People have started asking questions and are now speculating whether Ashraf has been radicalized as well and is in league with the Pakistani establishment, due to his religion, as so many from Jammu and Kashmir are. Such speculations, unfortunately, cannot be brushed aside as bigotry. It is certainly a very distinct possibility. Since Ashraf appears to argue that Nationalism has a caste element to it, then there’s no reason why it cannot be argued that anti-national sentiments and behaviour have a religious angle to them.
In Pakistani circles, caste divisions in our country are often spoken about. A 13-member committee of the Senate did recommend the then Nawaz Sharif government in 2016 to exploit caste divisions within the country in the aftermath of the surgical strikes. It is also often said that should India attack them, they will exploit the existing fault-lines within our country to sow the seeds of partition. They certainly appear to be confident that they will at least be able to destabilize the country by exploiting caste divisions in our society. In such light, Ashraf’s report appears even more damning and comes across as a weapon right up Pakistan’s sleeve which they talk of using at times of War, like circumstances are currently.
Pakistan’s professed concern for Dalits is merely a stick to beat Hindus with. It’s for the same reason that they shelter, encourage and arm Khalistanis against India. It’s part of their larger war against Hinduism. We should all remember what happened to Jogendra Nath Mandal and his life should serve as a caution. He was instrumental in influencing Dalits to ally with the Muslim League. During the communal violence in the Independence era, Mandal claimed that Upper Caste Hindus in the Congress party was using Dalits as pawns in their war with the Muslim League. He eventually succeeded in helping annexe Dalit dominated regions in Bengal to Pakistan.
The consequence of Mandal’s antics was that Dalits faced inhuman oppression in Pakistan. He served as the first Minister of Law and Labour of the Islamic state while the people he convinced to ally with the Muslim League suffered a million indignities at the hands of the Muslim majority. Eventually, in 1950, he resigned as Minister citing the anti-Hindu bias of the Pakistani administration and returned to India. The Dalits he led astray were not so lucky and they could not escape as easily as Mandal did.
Thus, demonizing Upper Castes to manipulate Dalits into allying with the Islamic cause has been a tested tactic of the Pakistani disposition. It appears that they are trying it now as well. Dalit leaders like Mevani, if they are truly concerned about the affairs of their community, would do well to learn that lessons that Mandal’s legacy teaches. Ashraf, whether due to enticement by the Pakistani establishment or due to his own personal religious motivations, has made it clear that he is party to the war against Hinduism.