Lynching and “urban naxals” have the same ideological background. While lynching was resorted to by the RSS and its frontal organisations to terrorise Muslims, Dalits and other minorities, traditionally anti-saffron and secular forces, the phrase “urban naxal” is the latest word-weapon designed by the RSS to frighten the progressive voices.
“Urban naxals” have proved to be a major stimulating force to counter communal forces. In a backdrop where the urban middle class has been lured by the tricks of RSS and BJP to act like a vanguard to usher India towards Hindu Rashtra, it’s the so-called “urban naxals” who constituted the frontline of liberal democrats and secular forces. Their presence in society is so widespread that only a fortnight ago the RSS organised a seminar to evolve a strategy to identify the “urban naxals” and isolate them.
With lynching facing stiff opposition from secular forces, the RSS was pushed on the defensive. The goons of Sangh virtually launched a reign of terror and killed not less than 100 Muslims and Dalits, the maximum being in Jharkhand and Rajasthan. For evolving a mechanism it constituted a 12-member committee. The committee produced a report “Know Your Urban Naxal”. The report is virtually the carbon copy of the police action taken against naxalites in the early seventies at the direction of the Congress government, when the movement was at its peak. The team favoured police action against human rights activists and liberal intellectuals and writers who allegedly provided support to left-wing extremists
The report says that the “urban naxals” are using folk culture to woo members. Naxals always promoted strong cultural links, while the saffron elements worked with police, especially in the tribal belts. Since the sixties they have been accusing Christian organisations of having been in nexus with naxals.
The “urban naxals” campaign has been launched to terrorise the middle class, which has always been responsive to any people’s agitation and movements. Even RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s address on the Vijayadashmi day underlined the need for the government to keep constant vigil on such “incendiary” elements. According to him, those leading and abetting violence during agitations were “votaries” of “urban Maoism”. He said “urban Maoists” had contacts in social and other media, intellectual circles and other institutions.
The RSS is worried about the outcome of the 2019 general elections. The pro-poor people and activists have managed to arouse awareness of the marginalised communities, the poor, the workers and the labour classes throughout the country abut the high level of economic distress. Their intervention has prepared the ground for the defeat of the BJP in by-elections in some states.
The opportunity for the government to crack down these elements and arrest five senior rights activists was provided by the Bhima Koregaon incident, held to commemorate 200 years of the Bhima Koregaon victory. The FIR filed against the five quotes revolutionary songs and poems sung by Dalit activists.
One thing is absolutely clear: the term “urban naxal” has been coined and deliberately placed in the public discourse to demonise dissent. Activists are being called “urban naxals” to criminalise dissent and holding a differing ideological position. The RSS has entrusted its cadres to prepare the list of such people. RSS has also been carrying on a vicious campaign against the left ideology, which it says has permeated academia, media and the social sectors. To win over the Dalits and keep them away from naxals and the communists, RSS has now been invoking B R Ambedkar.
RSS and the Modi government have been indulging in a nefarious game of eliminating the Dalits, Muslims and rights activists on the plea of fighting “urban naxals”. It is indeed a matter of shame that the government failed to define what it meant by “urban naxals”. Eminent historian Romila Thapar, who petitioned the Supreme Court against the house arrest of five left-leaning activists, has asked government to define the phrase “urban naxal”, saying either they do not understand the meaning of the term or the activists like her do not. Unfortunately, Narendra Modi kept a passive silence.
The political agenda of the BJP-Sangh Parivar is to push the Muslim minorities into second class citizenship by picking up issues like the Ram temple, cow-beef, love-jihad and ghar wapsi (reconversion into Hinduism) etc. Labelling Muslims and Christians as foreigners, and in particular Muslims as anti-national, has been the main plank of this politics.
With Dalit resistance spilling out on the streets, the Maharashtra police has been trying to implicate activists who have stood their ground to help promote the movement for the rights for marginalised groups.
When the state begins to take itself too seriously, it begins to suspect all dissent. The US had its moment of paranoia over dissent when it named a House committee on Un-American activities during the brief but dreaded McCarthy era. India seems to be prey to paranoia repeatedly, in fits of concern over national security. As the case challenging the police action against five persons accused of being involved in a Maoist conspiracy is pending with the Supreme Court, two things stare us in the eye: The debate on the arrests narrowly is focused on the virtue (or vice) of those accused; and there is an absence of more general public outcry. Both these underline the relative success of the strategy of “labelling to malign”.
For the last few years, we have become far too sensitive as a nation to care for a distinction between dissent or a principled stand and a threat to security. If urban Maoist is today’s label, anti-national was a label popularised previously. And if one were following social media, the remix of anti-India, anti-Hindu, Naxal and Muslim-Christian conspiracy would be easily perceptible as the folklore of popular prejudice produced through labelling. (IPA)