We are going through one of the most dismal times in the history of post-independence India. Anyone who resists, anyone who speaks for the greater common good, for truth and justice, is getting hounded. Hate campaigns are unleashed against them or they are implicated under fabricated charges and thrown into prison. At present, it is extremely unfortunate that many academics, writers and activists who have spoken out against the totalitarian hegemonic projects of Hindutva and its Sanatana Varnasramadharma project of graded inequality like Varavara Rao, Anand Teltumbde, Shoma Sen and Sudha Bharadwaj to name a few, are being intimidated and arrested. It is nothing but the unlawful silencing of critical voices and ethical dissent that are crucial for any democracy and modern civil society for survival.
The case of Dr Hany Babu, an Associate Professor in the University of Delhi, by the National Investigation Agency, on charges of conspiracy in the Bhima-Koregaon case, is a very recent example of the continuing and naked violation of justice and truth. Hany Babu was a champion of social justice and an egalitarian, anti-caste academic at Delhi University. Professor Hany Babu who has been teaching linguistics and engaging with his students in a humane and democratic way for decades has been persecuted as he was keen in strengthening democracy and in ensuring inclusion of the socially challenged sections in the university. He spoke and acted for social representation and implementation of reservation policies in higher education, in the true spirit of democracy. He was a legal-expert cum academic for Constitutional ethics and its proper implementation in the university. He struggled for making the higher academia a space of social inclusion and equity.
As an educated young Indian hailing from a minority and OBC community of Mopla Muslims in Malabar, he has been a beneficiary of social justice base of the Constitution that was enhanced by the Mandal Commission. He struggled hard for the implementation of affirmative action in higher academia so that young people could come to the universities and further the politics of knowledge and democratic empowerment. He also supported the 90 percent physically challenged Professor Saibaba who was also arrested earlier. But unfortunately, he is being mis-represented and mis-interpreted as a conspirator for violence and aggression that he totally rejects and resists as his professional professorial teaching career reveals. Such misrepresentations are growing everywhere in the country.
The stereotyping of intellectuals and academics as anti-nationals and “urban Naxals” or Maoists, has come to an ironic and absurd masquerade as late Girish Karnad and Anantha Moorthy have pointed out just before their exit from this world. It is a dual-edged lethal sword like Nationalism as Babasaheb Ambedkar has pointed out. The critical voices of justice both in the Left and dalitbahujan movements are marked as Maoists and a vengeful witch-hunt is unleashed by the apparatuses of State. As in the case of the so-called Maoists in the tribal heartlands of south eastern India, it is the dalitbahujans and Adivasis who are falling prey to this hegemonic nomenclature and ethnic cleansing. The SC, ST and OBCs who are under-represented and alienated from the corridors of power and politics are further otherised and demonised as terrorists and extremists and are simply annihilated by the current regime. It is like making a dog out of a goat and then further terming it as a rabid dog and eventually lynching it.
Minorities and Dalitbahujans have been facing this threat since the destruction of the Babari Masjid. Those who critique the chauvinistic cultural Nationalism are marked as traitors of the Nation and are targeted systematically through fabricated charges as in the case of Dr Babu whose house was raided, intimidated and arrested by the National agency for an alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence, that too orchestrated by the Hindutva elements.
As the necropolitical bare life instances of Hadhras or Akhlaq and Pehlukhan murders have revealed, rape, lynching and encounter killings have become a new normal in the country. The people who are killed belong to the communities of outcastes and minorities, especially the dalitbahujans and Muslims in both sides of “actions;” in the “Maoist” fold as well as in the Military Camp.
Even in Kerala, where I come from, for the last couple of decades in particular, similar atrocities are unleashed against those who stand for social justice and social democracy the foundations of Indian Constitution and the modern republic. As in the case of the Peshwa and Maratha regime and its continuation through the caste Hindu Brahmanical alliance in Maharashtra and the Northern context, similar anti-democratic fascist caucus that undermines social justice by abolishing social representation through the new normal of “economic reservation” is booming in Kerala too.
Academics who stood for the Constitution and its foundation of social justice were termed as anti-socials and extremists through misrepresentation and misusing of students by the vested interests that have hijacked the policy leadership of even the progressive political formations. The most reactionary and anti democratic “economic reservation” was passed in Kerala Devasam Board where 90 percent of the employees were caste Hindu. This was done under the pressure tactics of the 2018 Sabarimala “Sudra riots” against democracy, the Supreme Court verdict for gender justice and the Constitution. The context was created for this sabotage of democracy in Kerala through the elaborate epic and Purana recitals that normalize killing and genocide by the leading pundits misusing the tax money of the people.
Otherizing, demonizing and annihilating are on the rise through these hegemonic narratives and misrepresentations that are endorsed by these hegemonic texts of Smruti Sruti Puranas. Let us seek for the light of truth and justice before darkness falls.