Thursday, October 25

Tehelka does it again

The recent Tehelka sting operation that caught Narendra Modi’s conspiracy on tape is as appalling as it could get. The vivid descriptions of how the massacres were committed, without any remorse but instead pride make you wonder what these men are made of.

I had a talk with one of my friends about it. He was angry at the guts of those men, their inhumane killings, and the probability that the BJP would be voted to power again in Gujarat.

And then he committed the fallacy every one of us does. Castigate Islam as a religion when a suicide bomber attacks. Castigate Hinduism for what those men did. As appalled as I was by those heinous acts, I have lived my 24 years knowing Hinduism to be nothing but good. I have known about the atrocities committed by the Hindus during the riots in Mumbai, in Gujarat, the riots at the time of independence. I hated those who did it as much as I respected my religion. And when he attacked that faith my first reaction was to defend it. I asked him to not extrapolate about either Hinduism or Hindus. Because by doing so I felt like perpetrator of the crime.

He was appalled that at such a time when he was expressing his anger at the genocidal nature of those crimes, all I could think of was defend my religion. I did not jump the wagon and go Hindu bashing with him. I did not express with as much passion the anger I felt at those men. So why did I not? You might think I am being inhumane too. But do you not jump to defend if a part of your identity is attacked. The impact of the tapes, the anger my friend felt and expressed, the shame I felt that the crimes were being committed in the name of the religion I identify with, the sudden flash of similar atrocities during riots, they all attacked my sense of identity that I derived from being a Hindu. They were trying to take away an identity I did not want to give up. Most of my ideals, beliefs, actions, and ethics come from this identity. I was born and brought up in a family that believed in it with all its heart. That voted for the Janata Party and the BJP. Because of the severity of the crimes of those men, when he attacked Hinduism I wanted to protect it even more. In that one moment he had not only attacked my identity as a Hindu, but also my upbringing, my parents. It was like pointing fingers at all of us. At all those people I consider to be some of the most gentle and humane.

Probably I am taking it too far. Trying to rationalize my appalling reaction to his attack on Hinduism. But that is where the reaction came from. I would have reacted the same way if I were a Muslim and he had attacked Islam. It is not the religion that is in the wrong, it is the men who did the act. This is probably one of the easiest escapes to it all. But it is the truth. That is why it is easy for fundamentalists to gather support. They play upon the fear of possible loss of identity that people feel when their religion is attacked. It is a fact of life that most people identify themselves with some religion and put a lot of faith in it. It is no wonder that when you ask someone who they are they answer as being a Muslim, a Hindu, a Christian. They react the sharpest when that identity is attacked. It is no wonder that during riots, in spite of ample evidence of what their fellow men are doing, the Hindus back the Hindus and the Muslims back the Muslims.

If you think about any conflict situations you have been in, you will find that every time you react with anger, or get defensive it is because the other person is threatening one of your identities. Your identity as a good manager, a good wife, a righteous person… anything that you hold dear. Every time you succeed in dealing with a difficult person it is because you have someway taken away the threat to his identity. That is why almost all arguments will have someone saying things like “why are you taking it so personally?”

The Tahelka has done a good job at unmasking Narendra Modi and the BJP. They will suffer if there are midterm elections. But as my friend pointed out Modi might win again in Gujarat, due to the support for his economic policies. The perpetrators will go scot-free, even more confident that they can get as brutal as possible, as no one can touch them. Questions will be raised about India’s democracy. Where the country is heading politically and morally. How it will affect our international image. Weather we will be able to keep the Islamic fundamentalists from wanting revenge. And thanks to our short term memory, everything will be forgotten until someone again threatens our sense of identity.


Supremus said...

Having lived in Gujarath (my family is based there), I can tell you one thing: Most people don't care, and actually do like Modi.

Coming to Tehelka, it amuses me that just in time for elections, such sting operations are coming out. I think the Godhra incident has been blown out of proportion. Muslims killed Hindus. Hindus killed Muslims in retaliation. Period. There was never going to be a doubt (not at least in Gujarath) that this retaliation would not take place.

Had the retalition been stopped, the same educated elitists would then be complaining about Modi and his "Muslim Wooing" Politics and how he's looking only at minority vote bank :)

KNachiket said...

Do you believe in this thing called Sting.. ?... just after the elections are anounced this has happened.. sounds mysterious...

Manasi said...

Suyog: Well that's politics! :)

Manasi said...

Nachiket: the closer the elections the greater the appetite for masaledar stories.

Chetan said...

Suyog and Nachiket:

Anyone who knows Gujarat politics knows that the sting is going to help BJP and Modi win the next election and not lose it on account of this sting.

The reason being the average Gujarati on the street supports Modi for his role in the riots. In anything, his Hindutva image was floundering in the past few years. Religious figures, who gave him their blessings before the state election five years ago, are now issuing statements against Modi for not helping the cause of Hindutva. Read up on Uma Bharati's critique of his policies in recent times. She was wooing Keshubhai Patel faction by hitting Modi hard on not doing anything to help Hindutva.

Gordhanbhai Zadaphia, Gujarat home minister during the riots, will probably curse Tehelka for ruining his political battle against Modi. He was about to switch over to Congress by accusing Modi of strong arm/anti democratic tactics.

The Congress will now apply pressure on its leaders not to allow rebel BJP leaders like Zadarphia into the Congress.

Prior to the sting Congress was also showing sign of tightening up its act. The powerful Kolis OBC community had been a traditional voters of Congress. The BJP had managed to win over the community in the last 15 years during the Hindutva wave. They were getting considerable support from the Koli (OBC) community. This was because in the absence of Hindutva to polarise the populations, the Hindus in Gujarat were about to vote on caste lines.

The Patidar (Patel) community, which has voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party for the last two decades, was divided this time on the lines of sub-castes.

The Leuva Patels seemed to be drifting away from the BJP while Kadva Patidars were sticking to the party. Modi's archrival Keshubhai Patel belongs to Leuva Patel sub-caste and the five MLAs recently suspended by the BJP including Gordhan Zadhapia also belong to this sub-caste leading to strong Anti-Modi wave amongst them.

If you have been following the elections, you would have noticed that the Leuva Patels had formed the Sardar Patel Utkarsh Samiti. This samiti was organising public meetings against Modi at taluka levels.

However, this time the situation was drastically different since Congress was courting the Patel community. The caste situation had come to such a pass that the Sangh Parivar in the state was divided on caste lines like never before.

Under these circumstances, the sting is only bound to help Modi. So instead of a Congress political hack job this might look like a BJP insider hack job. Since it helps BJP win back the Hindutva votes. Gullible population without facts at hand will blame Congress for colluding with Tehelka. Plus by focusing on the political angle, BJP gets to cover up the human or rather inhuman angle of this tragedy and the ghastly deeds of their leaders who seem to be proud of tearing up wombs and killing children. It seals all the caste divisions and helps forge a Hindu majority that will vote the BJP to power.

So you see its very easy to pass the blame game and blame politics of religion while conveniently forgetting the monstrosity of the perpetrators of the crime.

Also Suyog your statement that "Muslims killed Hindus. Hindus killed Muslims in retaliation." is weird. Had the same people who had perpetrated the crime of burning the train been caught and burned, at least you can say that they were doing vigilante justice. But to kill Muslims of Ahmedabad for a crime perpetrated by someone in Godhra is just genocide. Period. Even Bububhai Bajarangi admits as such. "Inki to nassal hi khatam karni hai. Paida hi mat hone do saalon ko."

I mean by the justification of Hindus killed Muslims and Muslims killed Hindus in retaliation, anyone can come up with any up surd ideas of their definition of retaliation. So had the dalits in Maharashtra decided to start a killing spree of upper castes after the Khairlanji massacre would that have been justified by saying that Upper castes killed Dalits and therefore Dalits killed the upper castes. Period.?

Supremus said...

Actually, Hindu-Muslims riots are not new to Ahmedabad. There was a time when we used to get yearly holidays (for couple of weeks) when both the groups clashed. And this was "normal" for us at that time, and we did not even care after a point.

Yeah, I know sounds very heartless when I made that statement, but for better or worse, there was no way around it. Had the retaliation been stopped, the whole state would have been in a mess by now, and Ahmedabad would have been in a really bad situation. What happened in over a period of 3 days would have simply carried over a period of weeks and months of smaller clashes again and again, killing more people on both sides, and neither sides achieving anything.


AK said...

Love Tehelka, always exposing the true side of our politicians.

To me Hindutva = govt involvement in religion = pakistani like communalism = constant killing and fighting.

But of course the riots were really about vote bank politics as usual. Everyone knew Modi had a hand in it and yet Gujarat remains a BJP stronghold.

Manasi said...

Suyog: You sound really cynical! And that yearly holiday thing is quite creepy. If that were to be the way things are neither the riots nor such Tehelka stings would mean anything to anyone or have an impact on the country's politics.

AK: I wouldn't really agree with your perception of Hindutva, but wouldn't blame you for thinking so either. That's the image that gets projected due to people like Modi and the subsequent Tehelka operations.

Supemus said...

Hehehe Trust me - it was like that in the late-80s and 90s. I remember so many 2-3 week holidays of school, every year.

The funny thing is this: Those riots always used to happen in the same areas, with the same people involved. And those areas were the labor class and very low income areas where the riots occurred. I guess it was very easy to motivate them to kill each other...

At the same time, even though only those areas were affected by riots, ultimately the city used to more or less shutdown, esp schools and colleges. But leave those "selected" areas apart, Ahmedabad is as secular as any other city.

That's why I believe there is nothing that could have been done or stopped those riots. Tehelka or no tehelka, that is the grim reality.