February 20, 2016
An open letter to Neo-Patriots from a seditious JNUite
My Not so dear patriots, brave hearts of Mother India (not sons, as even she would disown you for your unique ability of following your Victory to Mother India slogans with abusing mothers and daughters)
I, a JNUite, am overwhelmed with the brave display of your patriotism. I would have been happier if you had displayed the same over Pathankot attack too. The scoundrels attacked us and killed our brave soldiers despite all the shawl-sari-suit-mango-birthday wishes in person-surprise visit to deliver love letters diplomacy of our very patriotic turned peacenik PM Modi. Though believe me that I am not disappointed with you not displaying your patriotism there. Your clan has no history of showing patriotism against real enemies of the nation after all.
I have searched libraries after libraries to look for a single case of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader imprisoned by the British for participating in the freedom struggle. I found none- right from their top leaders Keshav Baliram Hedgewar and Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar to RSS cadre at lower levels. That’s like keeping quiet against the British from 1925 to 1947 at best and working as their stooges at worst, with later being evidenced by the history.
Had they fought against the British, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wouldn’t have been forced to chant the name of Gandhi across the world on his foreign trips. I understand poor Modi’s predicament; the history of his ideological ancestors’ betrayal taking his trip on the foreign trips he loves so much! He wouldn’t have had to try to steal Sardar Patel, a lifelong Congressi who even banned RSS from Congress then. Poor chap would also not have had to try to abduct the legacy of NetajiSubhash Chandra Bose, the man who called Mahatma Gandhi the father of nation in the first radio broadcast of the Indian National Army. That too despite having had to quit Congress because of Gandhi’s displeasure! Now, showing you your own history of betrayals to India, I will call you neo-patriots now onwards.
Oh, I had to talk about us, the JNUites and I started talking about your treason. Let me get back to us, not so dear patriots. Yes, I am a JNUite and despite the fact that I had started becoming what I am much before joining JNU, it is JNU which made me whatever I am. The reason behind this was simple. Despite joining the communist movement in Allahabad during my graduation, I did not have much of a chance to meet real India. Back in those days, India was largely upper caste, North Indian, Hindi-speaking India for most of us. We hardly met anyone beyond this India but for in films with highly stereotyped South Indians doing AiAiyo and Anna cameos in Bollywood flicks and an even rarerDanny Denzongpa pitching in for all of the North East- specially in villainous roles.
It was only after reaching JNU that real, diverse India opened up for many like me. Barring an odd professor in Psychology department of University of Allahabad, I had never known any South Indian personally before coming to JNU. Lo and behold, in no time my best friend in JNU was a Kannadiga girl and the naughtiest a Manipuri. The close friend group that soon evolved out of that class of 2002 in Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health consisted of 5 of us, me a Purabiya (eastern UPite) boy and 4 girls a Kannadiga, a Telugu, a Chhattisgarhi and a Tamil.
I learnt more about India sitting with them at JNU dhabas- from Ganga to Sabarmati via Godawari than I had in all my life before that. Being active in JNU students movement added to it even more. Suddenly the issues plaguing handloom workers in Telangana were not a distant issue tucked in inner pages of newspapers- it was now a real one affecting those close to a girl I had the hots for. Though I had started opposing the militarization of Manipur since my Allahabad days, it had now become something directly affecting two of my classmates- one a very good friend at that!
With all these beautiful relationships JNU gave me, I didn’t remain a mere Indian in JNU, I was now India itself. No, not the India you are, not so dear patriots. That India ends as soon as you come out of its troubled peripheries like Kashmir or Manipur and turns into something else- Marathi Manoos for instance and starts beating up people from north India, and threatens them to leave Maharashtra. If only your patriotic hearts bled for that India too, if only you had taken on those goons instead of forging alliances with them. I am that India, the Bhaiya India that gets beaten up in Maharashtra.
I am India of Bastar, too. The India you shower with your patriotic bullets, without thinking even once who gets killed by them. I never saw you getting bothered about innocents who get caught in the crossfire between you and the Maoists, not beyond treating them as collateral damage of your war at the behest of all the Adanis and Ambanis. Remember Sarkeguda in Bijapur? The village where Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had killed 17 tribals including 15 year olds in an encounter? Remember that the then home minister P Chidambaram had said he was ‘deeply sorry if any innocent was killed’? Remember also, that MLA KawasiLakhma of his own party had showed that in fact innocents were killed? I am that Sarkeguda’s India.
I am India of Meena Khalkho too. Remember that 16-year-old tribal girl who was brutally raped and killed by brave cops of Chhattisgarh police? No, don’t rush to declare me a seditious, anti-national India for saying this. I did not say this in fact, a judicial commission established by BJP government of Chhattisgarh said this and booked 25 cops for her rape and murder. I am India of MeenaKhalkho.
I am also the India of Thangjam Manorama. Remember her? The daughter of Manipur- that Manipur which doesn’t figure in your India until there is a racist attack on north eastern students in Bengaluru or Delhi or some ‘underground’- insurgent group for the uninitiated, attacks Indian troops or vice versa. It is only in these circumstances that you remember Manipur as an ‘integral part of India’ the moniker otherwise reserved for Kashmir. Manorama was a daughter of that Manipur whose children you call ‘Chinky’ in times other than the above mentioned one, and assault racially.
She was picked up by brave patriots of Assam Rifles and was killed. She was mercilessly tortured and perhaps gang raped too, something not proved because the soldiers had sought her even in her vagina! Don’t rush to declare me an anti-national, as I am not saying this, a judicial commission appointed by the government of Manipur is. I am India of Manorama.
I am India of Kashmir too, the Kashmir of Shopian, of Machil. That Machil where brave soldiers of Indian Army had killed 3 Kashmiri youth, poor laborers, in a fake encounter. Don’t rush to judge me again, unlike in many cases of such fake encounters, Army confessed this one and punished 6 of its soldiers to life imprisonment for that fake encounter. Such killings, collateral damage for you, are the worst ones, not so dear patriots as they don’t come from bloodthirsty terrorists but those mandated to protect the lives of Indian under oath with constitution. I am India of that Machil.
Don’t panic, not so dear patriots. I will give you a chance to attack me. That too not with heavy, JNU type arguments, I know that would be too harsh for people of your level of intelligence. I could have asked why your patriotism goes on leave when Union Agriculture Minister Radha Raman Singh told the parliament that farmers are committing suicide because of impotence and love affairs. I could have asked why your patriotic hearts don’t boil with indignation when a BJP MP GopalShetty adds more insult and says that the farmers are committing suicide in fashion! I won’t even ask you ‘where were you’ when social justice bench of the Supreme Court had slammed the patriotic government about persisting child malnutrition in country- aren’t these children Indian too?
I will talk to you on your own ground, not so dear neo-patriots. I do not want to become Afzal Guru; just like his son Ghalib who wants to become a doctor, not Afzal. I never saw anyone shouting ‘I want to become Afzal Guru’ in my JNU. I can see that in your videos (many of them proven to be doctored by now) there is darkness when these slogans are shouted, and when there are faces these slogans ‘miraculously’ change to ‘we want freedom from hunger’ and so on.
Afzal is not my martyr, he just cannot be. But I do believe that he was a victim of Indian judiciary, a victim who was hanged just to satisfy the collective conscience of the nation for flimsy ‘circumstantial evidence’.
I oppose his hanging, I will keep opposing anyone’s. The same way I opposed Gujarat government’s decision (later revoked) to seek death sentence for its former minister and Naroda Patia massacre convict Maya Kodnani. No society can have death sentence and be civilized at the same time, not so dear neo-patriots. Getting barbaric with even most barbaric criminals would be their victory, not ours.
Forget my position, though and tell me what do you think about Peoples’ Democratic Party, the one self-designated wholesaler of patriotism BJP allied with to grab power in Jammu & Kashmir government. What happens to your patriotism when they call Afzal Guru a martyr? Where does your bravery disappear when they demand his mortal remains to be brought back to Kashmir immediately after forming government with you? Why do you not feel like beating them, not so dear patriots, when BJP makes a separatist leader Sajjad Lone a minister from its quota despite the opposition of PDP?
Your patriotism comes across as very opportunistic patriotism, not so dear Bhakts. It was nowhere to be seen even when first thing Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had done after taking oath as BJP-PDP allaince’s Chief Minister was thanking Pakistan and separatists for ensuring ‘peaceful election’ in Kashmir. Ditto, when BJP-PDP government freed MasarratAlam, a supporter of merging Kashmir with Pakistan.
Ask your own conscience about all this, that is if you are left with any. I am the India that pricks into the eyes of those who never fought for its freedom. I am the India which pricks into the eyes of those who want to cleanse India of its diversity and turn it into a monotonous Hindu, Upper caste, Male nation. I am the India in which everything is not fine and admitting that is seen as the beginning of attempts to correct that, not treason.
The poor, the marginalized face a lot of injustice in my India and I will keep speaking against that. I know that the brave soldiers in Army of my India not only keep us safe by guarding our borders, they also save people during natural calamties- be it in Uttarakhand or Kashmir. I also know that there are a few criminals who mange to infiltrate into its ranks and do Machhil, Manorama, Manipur. The honour of my India and its army increases by fighting against them, not hiding their crimes and thus making the whole army suspect.
You might be panicking again, not so dear patriots. So it’s time to let me give one more opportunity to attack me. Knowing your intellectual capacities I would not do that invoking best jurists of India such as Fali S. Nariman or Soli Sorabjee who made it clear that though definitely in bad taste, shouting even anti-India slogans is not sedition. I would not even cite the Supreme Court which made it clear that even being a member of a banned organization is not seditious until one engages in violence or incites it while giving bail to Dr. Binayak Sen.
I too find slogans against my India in bad taste. I, however, know that my India is not so weak like yours or Islamic State’s Islam that it will be endangered by 10 idiots shouting slogans against it. Your India might be just a political weapon for you, mine is one which is made of the ashes of my ancestors.
My India is both strong and compassionate enough to embrace these sloganeers, soothe them and then ask what makes them so agitated. My India has the moral courage to look into their eyes and add, your ancestors are cremated/buried in this soil too- why do you want to break it. My India is also conscientious enough to apologize to them if they have really been victims of injustice and fight for them in its courts.
You can force someone to say yes to whatever you want by putting a trident on their necks, you cannot make them love you or the country by doing this. Remember that many people in this country used to swear their love for the British? Remember that Savarkar of your clan was one among them? You think they really loved the British?
So keep living in your India that gets threatened by slogans, that too with the dishonesty of neither including Hindu Mahasabha’s slogans in that nor their despicable and really seditious act of burning Indian flag- a crime under Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. I will live in my India with my head held high, mind without fear. Keep attacking me, you cannot scare me. Of course you can kill me, but then the British killed Bhagat Singh and you know whom does India remember with love, whom it hates.
Finally, I am not intolerant like you despite you belonging to a different India, one full of hatred and not love for its children, I have a suggestion for you. Keep shedding the blood of Dalits, minorities, tribals, women, students or whosoever your patriotic handlers order you to attack at that moment. Try, however, also seeking employment, good life, guarantee of safety for you, your children and your elderly, the things they promised you to win your support in the first place. You would see, then, which side of their uniformed forces with guns pulled out you would be. Patels of Gujarat have already seen that. Jats of Haryana are witnessing that as I write this piece.
Till then, keep starting your sentences with Victory to Mother India and finish them off by abusing mothers and daughters of the same mother India. It is just that no mother could ever be happy with someone abusing her daughters, even if the abusers do it in her name.
Avinash Pandey (Samar)
A proud JNUite