Most conspiracy theories remain unproven. Some are fantastic. Even wild. But a few certainly pass muster. Take for example John F Kennedy’s murder. The main suspect Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered in court by a man called Jack Ruby, who in turn was shot down on way to the court.
Considering the seriousness of the crime the lax security arrangements in both cases were simply astounding. And it is simply too much of a coincidence to be a mere sequence of accidents. There is reason to believe that reactionary forces with deep roots in the system (nowadays called “the deep state”) used the mafia to get these two men in the ruthless plot to erase their traces in assassination of a president. The forces included elements in the big league of American monopoly capital and armaments industry as well as extreme reactionary figures in politics and government.
People have worked out the reasons for their hatred and fear of Kennedy. Though in the first flush of his idealistic vision of America he shared the ruling class’s notions about America’s destined mission to uphold democracy by force and escalated assaults on Vietnam and took aggressive stance towards the Soviet Union, gradually he came to realise the limitations and futility of that policy. Over time he developed a rapport with Nikita Khrushchev and together they sought to scale down the Cold War and spend the resources saved on improving people's lives and helping developing countries to acquire some degree of freedom from persistent neo-colonial bondage.
It was in fact the same vision as that of president FD Roosevelt, who on coming to know Joseph Stalin better during and after the famous Yalta Conference and the Atlantic Charter, overcame Churchill’s ingrown imperialist complex and tried to bring about a less violent and more liberal world-order with shared benefits of development. Following his sudden death his successor Harry S Truman reversed direction and joined Churchill in initiating the Cold War against the “red menace”. The ever-suspicious Stalin thought this somersault in American policy confirmed his visceral distrust of the West and he dourly resolved to hold the fort at all costs against capitalist onslaughts; the leopard he thought cannot change its spots. Kennedy was about to follow in FDR’s footsteps when he was stopped by a bullet. The assassin had prior knowledge of the route of his motorcade. Kennedy’s assassination was the kingpin in the strategic design of imperialistic capital.
I am far from fantasising about FDR’s intentions. This at least is the impression of the closest of Roosevelt’s aides, one of whom was later accused of collusion with the communists and jailed for thirty years during the years of the McCarthy witch-hunt against “unAmerican activities.”
While politics has been by and large a vicious game of power following Machiavellian tactics, there have also been short-lived periods of noble idealism that briefly light up the gloom. I rather think the government led by VP Singh in India was such a period. Though Jawaharlal Nehru’s premiership was more chequered it did have spells of such idealism that fired the people’s imagination. But those whose interests are served by shady politics are made uncomfortable by such spells and they move levers to put a quick end to such adventures.
Indeed it has been liberally used by quarters that are themselves under suspicion for such conspiracies. There are also such notions circulating at popular levels. For example the idea of “love jihad”. Not a shred of credible evidence about it has been unearthed by any investigating agency so far. Yet it gets mentioned sometimes even in courts of law as if it is an established fact. I have known several cases in Assam where such allegations were made by the usual circles but were found to be groundless. In a few cases Muslim youths did fake their actual identities and later urged their girl friends to convert which the latter quite properly refused to do. But these were cases of private deceit, not part of any deep-laid public conspiracy. Indeed a few months into the new BJP-led government in Assam, the state police had gone on record that it had not come upon evidence of any such thing. One does not know if it has changed its mind since.
Now, as they say, the plot thickens. The state security agencies including the police are themselves resorting to such theories these days. And the common man is at a loss how such far-reaching and elaborate conspiracies were maturing under the very noses of so many intelligence agencies. Lately the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA has been used to charge many people with the crime of conspiring against the state in ways that strain credibility. The specific charges seem to be ominous but vague. The charges brought by the police often get trashed in courts. But in the cases against the same persons handled by the National Investigative Agency the breathless and breathtaking ramifications of the same offence appear to crush all hope of relief.
There is, it appears, a formidable war against the state plotted by internal enemies that branches out in many directions. Thousands of pages are used to describe in minute detail the evidence, material and electronic, that will require enormous technical and forensic knowledge and skills to grasp clearly, not to speak of patience. Since the conspiracy is yet to be fully unravelled the accused are detained in jails, sometimes in shocking conditions. And for years until the agency winds up its investigation they are in no position to access and answer the allegations. The little nuggets that get leaked to the press seem fantastic and fabulous, and one is not sure whether such reports are authentic.
I understand that certain provisions of the UAPA enable security agencies to arrest and detain people on mere suspicion that they are enemies of the state. In practice, all distinctions between the state and the government get blurred. I remain in honest bewilderment why such attacks on fundamental liberties of the citizen on the notional ground that the accused is an enemy of the state has so far eluded searching scrutiny of the judiciary. This is a grave risk to our democracy. It is arguable that even if after years these charges turn out to be baseless, apart from grave injustice to the accused inflicted by the government, such unchecked exercise of power is bound to strengthen despotic tendencies and ineradicably alter the very character of the state.
The author is a socio-political commentator and cultural critic. The views are personal.