OPINION
READING GANDHI THROUGH PULWAMA
Goli Chhati Mein Maari, Ke Peeth Mein? Pistol Se, Ke Revolver Se?
- S Pal
Goli Chhati Mein Maari, Ke Peeth Mein? Pistol Se, Ke Revolver Se?



IF YOU ARE really a patriotic citizen, a sacha desh premi, you should know the truthful answer to this simple question: Was Mahatma Gandhi shot at from the front, or was he shot in the back?

What did you say? No, wrong. Terribly wrong, and obviously misinformed. Stop calling yourself a desh bhagat!

We have it on authority from the RSS chief, and more committed desh bhagats are hard to find in India, that Gandhi was shot in the back, and not by Nathu Ram Godse. 

K.S. Sudarshan, then the RSS sarsanghchalak, made this shocking revelation. He, of course, always had access to never-before-known factoids, including the real reason behind the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Kar Sewaks had not brought down the structure, he had expounded. In fact, it was a bomb planted by the Congress that caused demolition. 

Some time in early 2005, the then editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta, went to meet the RSS boss, and was educated by Sudarshan that Godse was just visiting that day to greet Gandhi, and happened to be carrying a pistol, but since Gandhi was shot with a revolver, it was clear that someone else shot him. Also, the RSS chief had worked the forensic evidence, too. He did not pay attention to the minor detail as to why a dedicated person like Godse would carry a pistol when his plan merely included greeting Gandhi. Most people usually manage without one.

But back to the forensic evidence, a la Nagpur. 

This is how Shekhar Gupta described K.S. Sudarshan's version: "If Gandhi had been shot from the front, the entry wound would have been smaller, and the exit a gaping hole. But it was the other way around. Conclusion: he was shot from behind. Implication (his words, not my interpretation): The only person who stood to benefit from his death was Nehru."

As the veteran journalist asked Sudarshan about the source of his information, the RSS chief said he got all these never-heard-before details from a book written by a senior police officer “from Andhra” Pradesh, who incidentally had died "a long time ago," as per Sudarshan. Of couse, the book, too, went out of print a long time ago, he added. So, Shekhar Gupta's only choice was to take a call on whether to tell the nation an explosive new fact about India's post-independent political journey, or use his own judgement and call the shitty new version of history what it was — crap. 

It is a choice millions of Indians are being offered everyday — to make a judgement call. A version of patriotism is being peddled, and woe begone you if you do not agree to it lock, stock and barrel of the army's gun.

Kashmiri youth are taking to militancy. A huge majority are unhappy with India. Young Kashmiri boys throw stones at army jawans. Pakistan claims Kashmir. Ergo, all Kashmiris are anti-India. So, Muslim Kashmiris, irrespective of where they are in the country and what they have been doing till date, are to be blamed for the attack on CRPF jawans in Pulwama. Also, the burden of avenging the death of these martyrs is now on the shoulders of ordinary citizens who must prove their patriotism by appreciating the army, hailing the martyrdom of the fallen, and taking some sorely-needed direct action against Kashmiris.

But lest you think for a moment that this lumpen behaviour is limited to a small group of hooligans, it should be clear that the mob in the street is whipping up the sentiment in an architecture of hate, and vast sections of the educated Indian middle class is primarily supporting this heinous crime.

It is a phrase I use with an extreme sense of responsibility. By definition, a hate crime is a prejudice-motivated crime which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership or perceived membership in a certain social group or race. Which part of this is difficult to understand?

In homes most decent, conversations have crossed into the territory of hate speech. People are exchanging WhatsApp messages that tick every box in the definition of hate speech. Many of these messages are being exchanged/shared in groups in which members include university professors, eminent writers, poets and senior journalists.

We have created a paradigm in which committing a serious hate crime has become an acceptable thing, and at best a tolerable, or ignorable thing. In the eyes of the law, even if no one is rushing to implement it, we have become criminals. When people commit crimes, even if the law looks the other way, it does make them smaller people. 

We are being fed a version of what it means to be a desh bhakt, a patriot. We are taking a judgement call on this.

* Kashmiri students in scores of colleges across the country are being asked to leave the cities and return home temporarily, because the mobs are baying for their blood.

* Top national newspapers reported how an institute suspended its Dean, Academics, because  protesting activists of certain Hindutva groups, including the ABVP, Bajrang Dal and VHP, demanded that he be fired since he was a Kashmiri. Hailing from Kaddar in Kashmir’s Kulgam district, the Dean told a newspaper, "For the safety of the college and the Kashmiri students in it, I asked college authorities to suspend me.” 

The college chairman said: "The mob was so aggressive that we had to give in to their demands...we had to issue the suspension letter because of the mob. We needed to do whatever was demanded to keep our students safe.”

* The Dev Bhoomi Institute of Technology (DBIT) Dean Arjun Singh said the college authorities are "helping" the students "leave the city by providing them vehicles till the airport and the bus station."

* Dehradun's Superintendant of Police Shweta Choubey said, "We have been doing everything in our capacity to ensure that all Kashmiri students are safe." So, clearly, "everything" does not include preventing radical Hindutva groups from threatening, beating, browbeating people. 

* When posters appeared in certain areas of Dehradun, calling for a boycott of Kashmiris, here's the toughest action of the police, as narrated by SHO of the area Narendra Gahlawat: "We went to the place where the posters were spotted and explained to the people not to engage in such activities.” 

* Hundreds of landlords in scores of Indian cities asked Kashmiri tenants to vacate their premises, a fact most groups of aggressors have now stopped contesting. Attacks on Kashmiris were reported from Dehradun, Jodhpur, Ambala, Panchkula, Delhi, Patna and many other cities.

* Tales of students being arrested, suspended or rusticated following social media messages they allegedly posted or shared or 'liked', now abound in such numbers that many newspapers have stopped publishing too many details.  

* In a number of Indian towns, big and small, senior police officers have been issuing public statements appealing to people "to maintain calm and not to take law into their hands." This is the most clear signal to marauding groups that the police will look the other way. An armed force "appeals" to one side; it arrests people on the other side. Help means telling Indian citizens that they can't be protected and must return home, a move in which the cops are out to help!

* Newspapers have reported about villages panchayats in Ambala asking villagers to evict Kashmiri students living in rented accommodation within 24 hours. Videos have surfaced on social media, yet not one newspaper has sent journalists to track the development. Not one person has been arrested.

* You have grassroot level workers of some organisations openly stating that Kashmiri tenants be evicted and anyone not following the diktat will be considered a traitor. 

* Even as the Union Home Ministry issued an advisory to ensure safety and security of students, and scores of newspapers carried a large number of news items about harassment of Kashmiri students, the CRPF, the force under whose flag 40 brave sons of Mother India had attained martyrdom just days before, took a judgement call. It tweeted from its official handle that it has "enquired about complaints about harassment and found them incorrect."

Also, it asked people to shut up: "These are attempts to invoke hatred. Please DO NOT circulate such posts." That’s the confidence-inspiring CRPF.

So, by sharing details with you about incidents of harassment, I am clearly doing something anti-national, since what else can you call an "attempt to invoke hatred?" 

If someone tells the police that an unruly mob shouting anti-Pakistan and anti-Kashmir slogans has occupied a Kashmiri girl students’ hostel in Dehradun or that Kashmiri students in Dehradun have been threatened to leave the city within 24 hours, this could amount to an attempt to invoke hatred.

* The Indian Express reported that "members of Bajrang Dal, VHP, and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha visited private colleges in Dehradun and demanded suspension/rustication of Kashmiri students."

It reported a student giving details of how students "fled from the premises without any of their belongings." They requested their landlord, seeking shelter, but "a group of people reached there as well to question our landlord. We ran from there as well, scaled a wall to escape.”  Do you think any journalist in that town is following up on the case, asking questions about what is being done to track down the louts who were chasing these Kashmiri students and spreading terror?

* Hundreds of Kashmiri students have been forced to find shelter in gurdwaras. Some have narrated detailed accounts of how they locked themselves in for days to escape groups of hooligans. How many police officers do you think landed up at the gurdwaras to record students' statements and file relevant FIRs, lest their tormentors escape the long arm of the law?
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* Now, colleges in this democratic country run under the Constitution of India are making public statements that they will refuse admission to Kashmiris from the next academic session. Some colleges are actually submitting an "undertaking” to this effect to threatening crowds. Among these was Dr Aslam Siddiqui, principal of Baba Farid Institute of Technology (BFIT), who wrote on Friday, "We assure you that if any Kashmiri student is found engaged in any anti-national activity, then the student will be expelled from the institute... Nae satra mein kisi bhi Kashmiri chhatra ko daakhila nahi diya jaega.”

Do you think the police is committed to tracking down these student leaders? Has the principal been asked to immediately withdraw such a letter and announce that the college will not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity?

Read the Financial Express' report, quoting the principal: "Around 400-500 people from ABVP, VHP, and Bajrang Dal protested in front of the institute between 1 pm and 5pm. They asked us to assure them that all the Kashmiri students would be expelled from BFIT. I tried explaining that expelling students mid-term would affect their careers. Finally, keeping in mind the safety of the Kashmiri students, I had to give in writing that we won’t accept any Kashmiri student from the next session.” 

Another college, the Alpine College of Management and Technology, reproduced verbatim the contents of the BFIT letter. Then, its director, one S K Chauhan, announced the management's intention, inclination and readiness to commit even a more flagrant violation of the Constitution of India. "I have given in writing that we won’t accept any Kashmiri student from the next session...However, till now, only two institutes have said that they won’t give admission to any Kashmiri student in the next session. Only if all institutes in the state follow this will our institute follow it too.” 

* Meanwhile, hardworking students are on the job. ABVP's Jitendra Singh Bisht, president of Dehradun's DAV Students’ Union, has said his group has not been able to approach all institutes so far "but we will do so and get an undertaking that they won’t take in any new Kashmiri student.”

* Dehradun's Bajrang Dal leader Vikas Verma has said his group "does not want even one Kashmiri Muslim student in Uttarakhand." The SSP of Dehradun, Nivedita Kukreti, has said, "The police will uphold law and order.” You want to laugh, or cry?

* Instances of a journalist doing his or her duty are the only hope. Read this account from Dehradun's Sudhowala locality: "This correspondent witnessed the men stopping their vehicle in front of the two Afghan youths and asking them to chant "Hindustan zindabad” and "Pakistan murdabad”. When they didn’t, the men assaulted the two youths."

* In Kolkata, a Kashmir-origin doctor was asked to leave town though he has been in the metro city for 22 years. 

* The Roorkee-based Quantum University, upon the demand of a mob, suspended seven Kashmiri students, but it only encouraged the mob to change the demand and ask that they be rusticated. The college duly complied.

R K Khare, the university’s registrar, said, "Many students from our university along with some members from outside the university created ruckus and demanded that the Kashmiri students be removed… We needed to maintain decorum in the university, so we took action against the seven students…”

The call was taken by the owner of the university, BJP leader Anil Goyal. "For the safety of the Kashmiri students, we had to take the decision.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking a strong stand against terrorism by warmly welcoming Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Sultan Mohammad bin Salman, who must be known for his benign approach towards politics and a strong commitment towards wiping out terrorism. Of course, no one has heard of Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, columnist for The Washington Post and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel who must have experienced first-hand the result of such commitment inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul last October. 

Also, Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy has now taken upon himself to single-handedly come up with practical ideas to resolve the Kashmir imbroglio. He wants all patriotic Indians to boycott Kashmir, Kashmiris and "everything Kashmiri.” If India still has a Constitution, and the NCERT school textbooks claim it does, then Tathagata Roy is the representative of the President of India.

His boycott appeal, made in the wake of attacks on Kashmiri students, professionals, traders and others following the Pulwama tragedy, must be perceived as a soothing balm, otherwise he would have attracted the ire of Maha Mahim Shri Ram Nath Kovind. 
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When criticised by the Opposition, Governor Tathagata Roy called his comment a "purely NON-VIOLENT REACTION to the killing of our soldiers by the hundreds and the driving out of 3.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits." That part is true; the reaction was non-violent. Roy had not asked anyone to pick up a stick and beat up a Kashmiri. Roy had done that part earlier. 

Read his words, vintage April 23, 2015: ‘Attack by Muslims on Hindus at Ghazipur, Bangladesh. Attack by Muslims on Hindus at Mallikpur, W Bengal, India. What awaits us Bengali Hindus?’ 

Tathagata Roy's job is to advise and caution the government if and when it transgresses Constitutional morality. One understands the commitment with which he is performing. He is in sync with some of the ideas that Crown Prince MBS has towards disciplining dissent.

A vast number of Indian citizens are now internalising a new normal — that shawl vendors can be attacked for the sins of Jaish-e-Mohammad and terrorism can be controlled by laying out a red carpet for a Saudi prince with a proven track record of bone-saw finesse.

All that we are now left to agree on in order to become a one nation, one idea, one motto, one leader, one thought, one people is to come to a conclusion on whether Mahatma Gandhi was shot in the front or in the back.

Choose your side very, very carefully.

Any rumours of you finding yourself under any pressure is likely to be found false.

 * * *

 Tathagata Roy's Tweets - Try not missing a heartbeat 
 
"An appeal from a retired colonel of the Indian Army: Don't visit Kashmir, don't go to Amarnath for the next 2 years. Don't buy articles from Kashmir emporia or Kashmiri tradesman who come every winter. Boycott everything Kashmiri. I am inclined to agree." 

‘Whatever gave you the notion I am secular? I am a Hindu. My state, India, however is secular since 1976.’ 

About the crowd of mourners following the hanging of Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon, Tathagata Roy tweeted these mourners could be ‘potential terrorists’: ‘The intelligence should keep a tab on them. Intelligence shd keep a tab on all (expt relatives & close friends) who assembled bfr Yakub Memon’s corpse. Many are potential terrorists.’ - July 31, 2015

‘Overwhelming Hindu majority is ESSENTIAL to maintain a multi-religious society & secular state. But West Bengal is slipping.’- Dec 17, 2014.

Commenting on the ‘fighting back’ nature of Hindus: ‘One exception was Gujarat, 2002. I’m glad you appreciate what the Hindus did then.’- March 23, 2015

‘Attack by Muslims on Hindus at Ghazipur, Bangladesh. Attack by Muslims on Hindus at Mallikpur,W Bengal, India. What awaits us Bengali Hindus?- April 23, 2015. 
 

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