What if those trees that were axed to death at Mumbai’s Aarey Colony had blood flowing in their branches? Then, quite obviously, blood would have spilled out and spread all over the expanse around them. Not that the sight would have made any difference to the rulers of the day.
After all, unmoved they sit even when human blood flows, not in surgical wards of hospitals but along the highways and stretches where human beings are killed ever-so-frequently in so-called encounters, fake or otherwise.
Today the situation is such that anybody can be silenced according to the political wishes of the rulers of the day. After all, how many amongst us questioned Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath government when, last summer, the facts and figures to encounters in Uttar Pradesh came to light? Since March 2017 there had been over 1,100 encounters in which 49 people had been killed and more than 370 injured, of the over 3,300 who were arrested across the state. The government, in fact, flagged these encounters as one of its achievements.
Those killed or injured in encounters became official targets in that one state of the country. Many spared by the state machinery were lynched and brutalised by brigades of goons that the rulers of the day have nurtured. In fact, private brigades and senas (armies) have been raised by several political who’s-who of the day. Why, nobody asks.
Why are yogis and babas and so-called godmen allowed to raise and nurture and maintain private senas? Just about anyone who dares to oppose, to revolt, can be settled by goons in these dark times. In an earlier interview given to me in around 2010, the writer Khushwant Singh had said:
“The fascist agenda of Hindu fanatics is unlike anything India has experienced in its modern history. For the last several years I have been seeing signs of fascism creeping in… private senas are used to unleash terror on minority segments and most Indians do not seem to realise the magnitude of this dangerous trend, the very magnitude of intolerance though signs are writ large.”
Today, state tyranny has reached campuses where the students are treated like criminals. Political mafia hold sway in university departments, intruding right into classrooms, hostels and washrooms. Hired political goons are made to enter campuses to cause rifts and, with that, there is less academic work in them and more strife.
The growing double standards in governance have started to bother me like never before. One instance after another of criminal politicians in government are killing and silencing the apolitical or those holding rival views. Many of these leaders have criminal cases against them, yet they rule over the country. Instead of getting side-lined or ousted, they have been given the reins of power.
Not to be overlooked is the fact that several hardcore elements in today’s government are delivering abusive and communal remarks. And yet they are not made to quiet down. They openly relay threats to the minority and still continue to rule.
In the summer of 2017, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-government organisation working for electoral reforms, released hard-hitting facts about Indian lawmakers: Some 51 Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies have declared cases of crime against women, including alleged rape and abduction. Of these, 48 are MLAs and three are MPs. The study found that among the recognised parties, the BJP had the highest number of MPs and MLAs (14), followed by the Shiv Sena (7) and the All India Trinamool Congress (6), who have declared cases related to crime against women.
The ADR, along with National Election Watch, analysed 4,852 out of 4,896 election affidavits of current MPs and MLAs at the time. This includes 774 out of 776 affidavits of MPs and 4,078 out of 4,120 MLAs from all the states. The study then analysed 1,581 or 33% of the MPs and MLAs with declared criminal cases. Some 51 had declared cases related to crimes against women. Of them, 40 were given tickets by parties for Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha elections. Similarly, 294 candidates with cases related to crime against women got tickets for the state assembly elections.
The study also brought into focus the fact that in the last five years, 19 independent candidates with declared cases related to crimes against women contested in the LS and RS elections. And 103 independent candidates with declared cases related to crimes against women contested in the state assembly polls. Things have only gotten worse.
Another fact was revealed. Over the last five years, 48 candidates with declared cases related to crimes against women were given tickets by the BJP. The second-highest number of such candidates (36) were given tickets by the BSP, followed by 27 candidates from the INC, for LS, RS and state assembly elections. Among the states, Maharashtra had the highest number of MPs and MLAs (12) with declared cases of crimes against women, followed by West Bengal (11) and Odisha (6).
In the last five years, Maharashtra had the highest number of candidates (65), followed by Bihar (62) and West Bengal (52) (including independents) who were given tickets by political parties after they declared the charges of crimes against women.
Considering these facts, anything can be expected from the rulers of the day. They can go to any extent to silence any form of protest. Even the most non-violent and civilised protestor could be targeted. Reading Ali Husain Mir and Raza Mir’s Anthems of Resistance, in which I come upon some absolutely hard-hitting lines on tyranny by Sahir, who passed away on 25 October 1980 leaving behind his revolutionary verses.
Tyranny is but tyranny; when it grows, it is vanquished
Blood however is blood; if it spills, it will congeal
It will congeal on the desert sands, on the murderer’s hands
On the brow of justice, and on chained feet
On the unjust sword, on the sacrificial body
Blood is blood, if it spills, it takes root
Let them hide all they want, skulk in their lairs
The tracks of spilled blood will point out the executioners’ abode
Let conspiracies shroud the truth with darkness
Each drop of blood will march out, holding aloft a lamp…
That blood which you wished to bury in the killing fields
Has risen today in the streets and courts
Somewhere as a flame, somewhere as a slogan, somewhere else as a flung stone
When blood flows, banoyets cannot contain it
When it raises its defiant head, laws will not restrain it
Tyranny has no caste, no community, no status nor dignity
Tyranny is simply tyranny; from its beginning to its end
Blood however is blood; it becomes a hundred things:
Shapes that cannot be obliterated
Flames that can never be extinguished
Chants that will not be suppressed.”
Humra Quraishi is an independent journalist and political commentator in Delhi. Views are personal.