Tuesday, 17 December 2019

UNEDITED version
CAA-NRC: Those Who Voted for this Regime Need to Wake Up

The entry into the library and mosque of a university campus in New Delhi by the police and its proceeding to beat students, including women students, is a plunge by this nation into the dark. The ostensible reason given is that resort to stone throwing and arson by anti Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) processionists led to the police attempting to round up anti social elements.
Contrary to the police version, videos on social media indicate that the police set fire to the buses as a precursor to their heavy handedness that followed on campus. At the time of writing the police were shown on national television vandalizing vehicles on the campus of Aligarh Muslim University where sympathetic demonstrations broke out in solidarity with their student colleagues in Jamia Millia Islamia. This makes it easier to suspect the police version of events in New Delhi. 
The credibility of the police has never been high. It took a deep dive recently with a commissioner of police claiming that the law had done its duty while explaining the ‘encounter’ in which the police killed four alleged rapists in Hyderabad. Even if the police version is true, for the police to enter into a university campus in the national capital and rough up students in their search for the anti social elements who resorted to violence is the regime going overboard.
Only a perception of impunity in the armed police could have led to such high handedness. This can only be a result of their action being taken under orders. This line of thought begs the question: Whose orders?
By now it is evident that the regime is incapable of following through with implementing its hard-nosed, ideology-driven decisions with any finesse. The economic fallout and consequences on livelihoods of demonetization and Goods and Services Tax decisions is now fairly evident. The surgical strikes failed to deter the Pulwama terror attack. The Balakot aerial attack failed to hit its intended target. It is equally clear that no F-16 fell out of the sky in the aerial duel that followed. Kashmir is waiting to explode with each passing day of lock down adding to the potentially calamitous consequences when it does. The outcome of the register of citizens’ exercise in Assam can be visualized from the condition of detention centers there.
And now we have its failure to anticipate the anti CAA sentiment in the north east and in the Muslim communities across the country. Needing to divert attention from over reach and to delegitimize the emerging blow-back, it has resorted to its time-tested Gulf of Tonkin tactics. (The reference is to the incident engineered by the United States to enable and legitimize its intervention in the Vietnamese civil war on the side of its lackeys in the mid sixties.) Using the arson and stone throwing as excuse it has tried to paint the counter to the CAA in dark colours. It has already conditioned the media to loyally depict any violence as Muslim initiated and perpetrated.
The intent is to reinforce its narrative on the CAA cum National Register of Citizens (NRC) – its twinned answer to fool-proof homeland security. The Muslims objecting to the CAA-NRC pose a threat because they have much to hide, including some 20 million illegal infiltrators, in their mohallahs and qasbas. Tough handling at the outset of the demonstrations would help deter and divide Muslims. Else they may heed calls for non-cooperation by the community against the CAA-NRC. Besides, the strong arm would need to be much in evidence in case the ‘termites’ are to be accorded a burial at sea in the Bay of Bengal; Bangladesh, having cancelled the visits by its home and foreign ministers last week, being in no mood to welcome them back.  
The necessity of firmness is easy to swallow for believers; they believe anything including that their prime minister is a graduate. The wider public has also been worked on for over a decade during which the notion of convergence between terrorism and Muslims was fostered by the media and fanned by the strategic community. Perpetrators of the black operations that depicted Muslims in poor light were set scot free and at least one now graces parliament. Therefore, the expectation in the security minders who passed on the orders for mayhem on campus was that the rationale would be swallowed.
As with other implementation failures of misconceived policies, this time the regime has come up short. It has been exposed by the swirling social media clips that have found their way into mainstream media coverage of the incidents. Accountability is not with the khakhi clad superiors of the communalised armed police. They have received their marching orders and - being supine - have in carrying these out, have botched it.
Despite its inauspicious rollout of the CAA-NRC, the question still needs answering: whose orders? The deep state, comprising national security minders, is merely a link in the chain of command. Who does the deep state answer to?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at a mega rally the same day on the campaign trail in Dumka, Jharkhand, is a dead give-away. Modi in his inimitable style said that it is possible to make out who those setting the nation on fire are by the clothes they wear. This is of a piece with his long standing dog whistle politics. In a piece of immaculate coincidence the demonstration in Okhla unfolding even as he delivered his address in early afternoon, culminated in arson a little while later, with the nearby campus being invaded by the police shortly thereafter.
Modi’s home minister during his performance in parliament warned that the NRC was coming. The CAA is but stage setting. The Muslim community is left with little recourse but peaceful demonstrations by its articulate members – its students – to register its reservations. The two – Modi and Shah - responsible for setting off the counter to the CAA-NRC are out to manage the pushback with the only methods they know: Kashmirisation of the rest of India, to borrow a phrase.
That the counter has acquired such dimensions owes to the urgency and significance of the juncture. The government for its part is not averse to the rigour of the counter since it helps it project the necessity – in its narrative – of the CAA-NRC double whammy and paper over the widening cracks in the economy.
The take away from witnessing the aftermath of the first act of its folly is that the largely Hindu support base of the ruling party needs to wake up timely. Only a shifting of the sands below the feet of the Chanakyan duo will enable institutions play their part in the system of checks and balances that constitutes democracy. The accountability for controlling Modi-Shah is with those who elected the two. The agent-principal relationship that underpins democracy implies that Hindu brethren who voted Modi into power need inclusion in the answer to the question: on whose orders. They can yet make amends