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‘The mob is the most ruthless of tyrants’: The Dark Long Shadows of Lakhimpur Kheri, the politics and the judiciary

The support from the Intellectual class and the media has emboldened the anarchists to no end. The silence of the State has also had its role to play. Too keen to shed off the image of a tough ruler, the Narendra Modi Government has for long ignored the cases of violence coming from the criminal-infested movement.

‘The mob is the most ruthless of tyrants’ – Friedrich Nietzsche

A long and nonsensical protest has been underway in the name of ‘Farmer’s protests’, which has been hanging over India like the sword of Damocles. Communism, with its absolutist ideology, has long been rejected by Indian democracy, shrinking from three states to eventually one single state. The presence of the left in the Indian parliament too is abysmally low. The Leftists had resigned to their situation in the Indian political system and settled for being the feeder of juvenile dreams, meant to dry up once the ruthless Sun of realism shone over the people. The ideology has globally shrunk from around thirty-six nations at its peak to not more than half a dozen countries that claim to be Communist today.

A sudden change has come about in the last one decade or so, not much in the sense of acceptability of Communism, rather as a sudden deluge of funds and means, courtesy, China’s rise and ambitions of asymmetric growth as a Global Power. India being the next door large nation with an even older history, is the last defence of democracy. This sudden rise of China and India, as the next-door neighbour of respectable size and potential, being thrown into the role of the global nemesis of China has ensured that Indian resurgence has caused a lot of discomfort in the heart of the Dragon. The result is seen with obvious indicators like Military posturing, not only against India but against all the other nations around China.

Apart from the obvious indicators, there are many cleverly camouflaged activities happening, even if we do not look at the Pandemic let loose by the rogue state next door on the world. It would be too much of a conspiracy theory if we begin investigating why the opposition ruled states in India were least prepared to tackle Covid-19 in spite of being financially much better off, population-wise much less taxed than the states which are ruled by the BJP, and wreaked the most havoc from Delhi to Maharashtra to Kerala.

The opposition has behaved in a strange manner by raising questions on action against oxygen misuse, medicine misappropriation and even going to the extent of trying to put a spanner in the launch and propagation of India-made vaccines. Notwithstanding that the whole Covid strategy of China seems to have backfired with the Chinese economy badly hurt and the world looking at India under China Plus One strategy for global sourcing. Instead of letting the pandemic make India fall into the depths of turning into a welfare state, India has taken wise and considered steps to work on supply-side strengthening with PLI schemes and such initiatives. This has kept the Indian economy sturdy and growing in the aftermath of the pandemic. We have scars, but we are coming out.

But at the same time, we find the series of protests which came about across India ever since the Congress was voted out of power, have gained momentum. From opposition to land reforms bill, the violence unleashed in the protest of CAA, to Farmers’ protest, largely driven by separatist funded, fanatic forces in the Congress-ruled state of Punjab, the tendency of the Congress to rule the nation from the streets continues.

In this process, Congress has assimilated the left within itself and in the process become a warhorse of the radical Left. The Left, never one for democracy from Russia to China (both now have life-long dictators as their ruler), has engulfed Congress and it is a pity that the party which harps on the name of Nehru, has transformed itself into the political ideology considered a threat to India.

The unending blocking of the roads of the capital city of India as a means of protest was tested during the anti-CAA protests and is being implemented with more vengeance and backed by better financing in the protests against Farm Laws. Three things these laws do are unshackling the farm trade from the gasp of middle-men (removing APMC-Only option for the trade of farm produce, already implemented in Left-ruled Kerala), bringing in farmer-friendly policies in the Contract Farming, which were earlier skewed towards the industrialists, even having the provision for the arrest of Farmer in case of default (in Punjab Contract Farming Act, brought in by Shiromani Akali Dal, now at the forefront of the agitation, with a new-found love for the farmer) and bringing in Private investments to develop the storage facilities, bringing the storage of many commodities out of arbitrary state control. The benefits of the new laws are so obvious that it is totally surprising that the rhetoric seems to be winning.

The ugliness of street politics brought in by rogues of Indian politics who were sidelined by the larger masses has reached its worst with the incidents of Lakhimpur Kheri. As the Opposition made beelines to Lakhimpur Kheri in UP after the violence in which an equal number of protesting farmers and BJP supporters were killed, the systemic collapse is visible. These kinds of street protests meant to ‘Capture the Cities’ are much in line with the policy documents of the Naxal movement, called ‘The Urban Perspective’.

The policy document clearly outlines a plan for the Maoist terrorists to step out of the dark forests of Dantewada and overthrow the elected government by capturing the urban centres. If we look at the movement of the Farmers’ protest the imprint of the Naxal plan is easily detectible. Communist leaders are driving the movement from behind with Rakesh Tikait being the face of it and Opposition Parties are riding on this movement funded through odd and undeclared sources.

The support from the intellectual class and the media has emboldened the anarchists to no end. The silence of the State has also had its role to play. Too keen to shed off the image of a tough ruler, the Narendra Modi Government has for long ignored the cases of violence coming from the criminal-infested movement. A woman from West Bengal was violated by a group of protesters and died later, the role of free movement of protesters working on shifts between Delhi and Punjab has been reported, the blocking of oxygen tankers to the capital by the protesters has been also reported.

People have been beaten up, government properties (including national memorials like Red Fort) have been attacked at will. In America, the Capitol was attacked and five people were shot dead by the security agencies. In India, Policemen were beaten up by the so-called farmers, some so severely that they were admitted to the ICU. The action from the Government has been minimal, the courts have been soft towards the rioters and the media has been manipulating the news to protect the protests as peaceful protests going on for a year, whitewashing the acts of huge violence.

When the governance fails, one looks at the Judiciary. In this case, the Judiciary too has failed India. They came out with the judgement calling street protests illegal in the case of Shaheen Bagh, but only when the street violence of the Delhi riots made those Islamist protests untenable. In this case, again the Court played its high hand and put the laws passed by the Parliament, representing the will of the people, on hold, claiming that while there was no question about the Constitutionality of the law, they, that is the Courts, did not want the blood on their hands.

There has never been such an obvious capitulating of the state before a gang of goons in the history of established democracies. The same Supreme Court which remained unmoved by the plight of victims of the West Bengal post-poll violence, in which around a hundred people were murdered merely for the electoral choice they made, instantly took up the Lakhimpur Kheri incident where eight lives were lost. In Lakhimpur, eight people died – four were farmers three were BJP workers lynched on camera by the protesting farmers and a local journalist.

The state could be blamed for delay in action by clearly missing intelligence inputs, but unlike Maharashtra where on-camera the State Police was seen handing over Hindu Sadhus in Palghar to the mob for lynching, or in Chhattisgarh where the State police shot dead three tribals this May, in this case, there was no direct complicity of the State. Still, the Supreme Court asked for the arrest of the son of the Minister who has been charged with mowing down the protesting farmers by the protesting farmers.

The self-electing set of elders in the judiciary have always been claiming to be revolutionaries, victims and martyrs, all at the same time. Mr Arun Shourie, a journalist of repute and ex-minister has written on this in his book ‘Courts and Their Judgements’ very appropriately. He writes ‘These progressive judges have a very high opinion of what they were doing. They had convinced themselves that they were battling great odds. They were also very eager that what they were doing got known far and wide.’

What we are observing as citizens in the hyperactive judiciary was seen earlier too when the plea seeking justice for Kashmiri Hindus thrown out of homeland as an outcome of widespread violence, mayhem and killings, was thrown out being old, while it took cognisance of a Kashmiri Muslim vendor being slapped in UP and asked the state to act swiftly. This feature is arbitrariness which the highest courts in their own many judgements have declared the biggest enemy of fairness.

Most people have to be circumspect of speaking out loud about what possibly brings in this arbitrariness where directly complicity of State is overlooked like in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh and courts intervene when the state’s complicity is not even pronounced. Mr Shourie, however, writes ‘there has been much competition among judges as there has been among intellectuals and persons in public life to outdo each other in progressive, socialist declarations.’

He outlines, to me it seems, most appropriately, when he writes, As if to make up for its supine role during that period (Emergency), the Court delivered itself of one ‘progressive’ judgement after another, each bursting with egalitarian rhetoric.’

So in this instance, we have the court ignoring the recommendation of the Standing Committee of the parliament headed by an MP from Trinamool Congress urging the Government to immediately implement the Farm Laws, suspending the laws given by the parliament. They also refused to act when the commitments of peaceful protest made on 24th January were broken on the 26th of January sending around 500 cops to the hospital, totally ignoring reports of locals being beaten, murdered by protesting farmers, women being raped and molested at the protest sites.

When Arun Shourie wrote the book, it was a time when few would read about the judgements passed by the courts. The situation has totally changed today. Whatever happens, is open to public scrutiny. The courts have been silent on the illegal nature of these protests. While the judiciary does not have to go to the people for approval, their powers do derive their legitimacy from the perception of the people as the fair dispenser of justice.

It is not about how the readers of the New York Times perceive them, it is about how the people perceive them. For that, it is important for the courts to be as objective as possible. It is not that the courts must not intervene. But they must intervene when the State is seen to be an accomplice in the crime or is seen to be restricting the enforcement of the law. It cannot arbitrarily pick up the cases which get highlighted more. Media can play favourites but the courts cannot. The Court cannot consider slapping of a vendor as a more serious crime than the act of murder of a street vendor from Bihar in Kashmir. Such illogical activism will make people lose their faith in the law. The day that happens, society will collapse. Judge Robert H Bork was quoted in the book ‘View from the Bench’ :

‘The theoretical emptiness at its centre make law, particularly constitutional law, unstable, a ship with a great deal of Sail but a very shallow keel, vulnerable to the winds of intellectual or moral fashion, which it then validate as the commands of our most basic compacts.’

An exasperated Arun Shourie adds, Instead of ‘intellectual fashions’ an Indian reviewer would probably have to insert ‘fashionable cliches’.’ (How else do we explain the Courts inclination to use Gandhian principles to justify its judgements even in this case, instead of Constitutional ideas, why would a structured society follow the guidance of an individual with no constitutional authority, however great he or she might be).

The courts have stepped on extremely slippery grounds by choosing to behave in such a manner. This has embolden the rogues who have been brought to the centerstage of Politics by inaction of Modi Government to publicly mock those who died in political violence brought in by their followers as Man-eaters fit to be lynched from public platforms. That such utterances do not bring in any punitive action from Media, Government or Judiciary is mark of a decaying democracy. The sooner this decay is arrested, the better.

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Saket Suryesh
Saket Suryesh
A technology worker, writer and poet, and a concerned Indian. Writer, Columnist, Satirist. Published Author of Collection of Hindi Short-stories 'Ek Swar, Sahasra Pratidhwaniyaan' and English translation of Autobiography of Noted Freedom Fighter, Ram Prasad Bismil, The Revolutionary. Interested in Current Affairs, Politics and History of Bharat.

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