Gujaratification as the foremost national security threat
A commentator has it that Kashmirisation of India is underway ever since methods law and order maintenance tried and tested in Kashmir found their way into the national capital with the invasion of the armed police into a university campus to rough up students. Alongside, Gujratification of India is also underway, evident from the foray of a right wing lynch mob to beat up students of another central university in the national capital as the police stood by.
Gujaratification – the hand-in-glove nature of the regime and police - is a recent phenomenon on the national stage. However, conditioning Indians by the lap-dog media to mainstreaming it is proving difficult. India’s liberal hangover appears to be bestirring itself with a rear-guard action by assorted liberals and a besieged minority hogging the headlines.
Clearly, the regime has over-reached. Blinded by arrogance on being rewarded with another term by an electorate fed on lies related to its military showing in the Balakot episode and hoping to build on the momentum from its constitutional hocus-pocus on Kashmir followed by its judicial coup in the Ayodhya case, unfurled – prematurely as it turns out - its flagship enterprise turning India into a Hindu Rashtra.
The good part is that it has in its exuberance spilled the beans on the ways and means towards the Hindu Rashtra, Gujaratification.
The Gujarat Model commended itself into middle class consciousness based on economic growth figures of the state under Modi. The underside to the Gujarat Model – of abject socio-economic indices - was lost in the beeline of the corporates to set up shop in Gujarat and its self-interested endorsement by corporate honchos. Less visible was the Gujarat Model’s blind side of Gujaratification.
Therefore when the electorate opted twice-over for the protagonist duo – Modi-Shah – from Gujarat, they have unwarily imported from Gujarat the odious dimension of their rule. This is turning out the primary national security threat today.
Essentially, Gujaratification is the internal hollowing out of institutions, in this case security relevant institutions. The enervation of the Gujarat police is an example, with the easy illustration being its custodial killings in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case that was dressed up as preemption of a plot to ‘get Modi’. Apparently, the henchmen were in constant touch with their minister, Amit Shah, even as they implemented orders.
Shades of Gujaratification are visible in the actions of the Delhi police, run by Shah’s home ministry, in its conduct on the two university campuses. While at Jamia Millia they vandalized the university campus without any permission even to enter it, in the case of Jawarharlal Nehru University (JNU), they held back ostensibly for permission to enter the campus even as the rampage inside the campus proceeded unhindered. That they then allowed right-wing foot-soldiers to then vanish using the cover of the dark, with street lights helpfully switched off for the purpose. This has shades of Gujarat 2002, when it is alleged the police were told to lay off while right wing goon squads were given 48 hours to do their bit.
As in Gujarat, where the likes of whistle-blower Sanjiv Bhatt are in jail even as his counterpart the tainted DG Vanzara, of encounter fame, is scot-free, Delhi is witnessing a similar inversion of justice. No one has been proceeded against in the Jamia Millia episode, though social media is awash with the evidence of disproportionate use of force by the police. Supposed bus burning and stone throwing by protestors is taken as enough to let off the perpetrators. In the JNU case, a first information report has been lodged against the injured head of the JNU student union, while not a single – easily identified - perpetrator has been arrested.
Gujaratification poses a more insidious threat. The disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed, the JNU student, missing for some three years, is a case to point. The ease of access by right wing forces to the campus and impunity thereafter throws light on what might have transpired the day Najeeb went missing.
For additional clarity, Uttar Pradesh (UP) is example. The UP police’s handling of the largely peaceful protests has been captured on camera. They are shown up as supplementing their resources with right wingers. Where the crowds are shown as violent, it is arguably because of the communalized police’s high-handedness combined with the provocation from right wingers in their midst. The ensuing violence has been taken as legitimizing the excessive use of force that resulted in over a score killed. The chief minister, chosen for the job by the dynamic duo – Modi-Shah, has since justified their choice by talking of ‘badla’ (revenge).
Gujaratification, the subversion of institutions and instruments of law and order and justice, is a national security threat since there is no distinction left between state and its temporal steward. The threat is in such agencies ending up as handmaiden for the advance of the footprint of Hindutva across India. Their trampling on the political backlash in the guise of national security makes them complicit in majoritarianism, besides setting the stage for authoritarianism.
The national security threat is amplified in case it overruns the military – the last line of defence. On being appointed Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, who has constantly over his tenure as army chief through his political interventions flirted with the ruling party, piously intoned: “We stay far away from politics, very far. We have to work according to the directions of the Government in power.”
Security agencies – police, military and intelligence - have a constitutional and official mandate, the fulfillment of which requires beng apolitical and secular. However, if – as the good general does – they follow orders without reference to their formal professional obligation to the Constitution and normative obligation to the nation, they stand compromised.
Therefore, directions received from political bosses have to be gauged in light of their mandate, with illegal and illegitimate orders ignored. Doing so alone can preserve national security from being suborned by either ideology or an incipient authoritarianism.