India entered the year 2020 when the world was grappling with Coronavirus (Covid-19). There were only a few hundred cases when India hosted U.S. President Donald Trump and people assembled in thousands to rally behind Modi to host a right-wing leaning Trump and to make him feel at home, this time more than ever.
Then, protests started happening all over India against the discriminatory CAA, which provides citizenship to all migrants of neighbouring nations of India except Muslims. It was apparent Muslims would revolt. People were beaten, abused, and intellectuals and academicians were threatened, some jailed, some are still in jail, and charge sheets have been filed against some in recent months. Arrests have not stopped yet.
Then, the riots happened. Hindus killed Muslims and many Hindus were also killed in this madness. While the political and elite class were enjoying in their AC rooms and foreign countries, India’s poor were killing each other on Delhi’s streets. I have mentioned in another article about this madness and the fear me and my friends will feel during our next visit to Delhi, fear we didn’t feel before 2014.
Although arrests and killings of Muslims and Kashmiris happened before 2014 as well, it did not resemble the kind of fear we are living under now. The present madness and fear and hate-mongering have crossed all limits. You don’t know what will happen next on Delhi, Mumbai or UPs streets. A mob might beat or kill you anytime over your Muslim or Kashmiri or even Dalit identity. Hate has consumed Indian society so much that it looks now beyond repair. Some activists had hinted of this undeclared emergency and now many feel like we are living under it.
Then, India’s ruling BJP enforced a nationwide lockdown without much care for its poor and migrants. Covid-19 was communalised and Muslims were held responsible for its spread. India earned a tag of the only country where a pandemic was communalised.
Migrants couldn’t live and stay in their rented apartments beyond a month or two and started walking on foot to their homes without any money in pockets. Some died due to hunger on roads and some due to the virus. But the ruling class was less worried as China started to occupy land at the Ladakh border and killed Indian soldiers. The only thing the ruling party did was feed the poor with ultra-nationalism and provided Kashmiris misery under the lockdown.
Democracy and justice are eroding day by day in India. Dalits are being raped and Muslims are being killed on an everyday basis. Journalists are threatened openly by Hindutva thugs and even by some BJP and right-wing leaning politicians. The media has gone into hibernation or licking the boots of the ruling right-wing politicians. Fascism is on the rise — those who criticise the government land in jail. Accountability and justice are words only to be found in dictionaries in India.
Indian media, under the patronage of right-wing parties, mostly under BJP, is playing at the hands of mobs. TRP driven media trials are conducted even before investigative agencies come to any conclusion. Bollywood, which is mostly progressive, is now feeling the heat. Media and right-wing politicians have gone after it, mostly after it’s female actors.
The rape of a Dalit girl in India’s largest but caste riddled state recently has exposed India’s caste system and its ills and injustices and atrocities perpetrated under it, and right-wing politicians’ ill intentions to the world. The girl was allegedly raped and then beaten, her tongue was cut off and spine broken. She died after two weeks in a Delhi hospital. Her dead body was denied to her family and she was cremated secretly by the police under pressure from UPs BJP government which is headed by Ajay Singh Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath.
Then the Babri verdict paved the way for Ram Mandir’s construction and acquitted all members of the BJP who were previously found involved in the demolition of the Babri mosque. But it was nothing new as BJP has come to this stage riding on the Hindutva wave of the 1990s and the demolition of this historical mosque.
High-speed internet is still denied to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, which has hugely impacted the studies of school children who were looking for online education due to the closure of schools. Promotion to the next classes without classes and examinations have continued since last year when Jammu and Kashmir were stripped of its semi-autonomous status and put under strict lockdown.
There is total suffocation all around. Barricades and concertina wires are laid on every nook and corner and every street of Kashmir. Thousands of young boys have been rendered jobless due to the internet shutdown in Kashmir and now Covid-19 has added to this misery. Thousands in India have died due to the unorganised lockdown.
Then a fake encounter for medals and money was staged by the armed forces, as has happened before many times, in which three labourers from Rajouri district were killed in Shopian. There seems no end to the sufferings of the common people.
Farmers are protesting against the new Farm Bill (which has become an act since then) for its discriminatory nature. India’s economy shrank by more than 23% and lakhs of jobs have been lost due to the pandemic and ill policies of the right-wing ruling class.
Pakistan, Muslims and the Kashmir card is being used to whip up communal frenzy and ultra-nationalism to hide BJPs failures on the economic and job front. Darkness and smoke have engulfed the Indian society. There seems no end to the miseries of common people and India’s health sector is in shambles with its lowest budget expenditure. People are dying of hunger and unemployment is driving people to suicides.
The biggest problem is that the present right-wing dispensation has no remedy to the common man’s misery. It has only nationalism and communal cards in its kitty, which it plays from time to time to divert the attention of the common people from real social and economic issues. But even these cards have an expiry date which people have started to realise now.
It will take time for people to fully realise their right-wing party has exploited people’s emotions and betrayed their promises. To fight and hope are the only weapons for common people to end this misery and lawlessness and save this sinking ship of democracy and justice.
Ashraf Lone, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi