A country where intellectuals are deemed a threat enough to be shot dead

Chilling details that have come to light in the Gauri Lankesh murder case investigations are crucial to understand the manner in which the Hindutva organizations are changing the very texture and spirit of democratic India. Hindutva organizations like Hindu Sanatan Sanstha (HSS) and its tributary Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) are said to be the master-minds of the murder which is part of a pattern, linked to previous murders of rational thinkers like Pansare, Dabholkar and Kalburgi. What is horrifying is that the killers did not intend this to be the last.

Several hit lists were drawn and Gauri Lankesh’s name figured on number 2 in one of them. There were 30 people engaged in planning and executing the killings. Famous theatre personality and veteran actor, Girish Karnad, figured on the top in that list of 34 in which Gauri Lankesh was named. Others included intellectuals, writers and rational thinkers. The contempt for intellect, free thinking and rationalism cannot be missed. It outlines the idea of Hindutva India that the saffron parties are pursuing where thinking minds can be controlled through intimidation and physical annihilation.

What these revelations highlight is not just the agenda but also how these saffron organizations operate, penetrating into the social and political landscape gradually, finding their roots and then executing their operations. The silence of the BJP-government over their operations gives away strong traces of patronage. A historical study of the parent organization of Hindutva RSS reveals the tendency to float fringe groups like HSS and HJS, which are more militant in their execution. While RSS tacitly maintains its links with these groups, it publicly distances itself from these especially after they are named in grievous acts of criminality. The RSS’ relation with Gandhi’s murderer Nathuram Godse is just one case in point.

The RSS way of operation is to float a slew of organizations and operate stealthily, without maintaining a loud public profile on its own. Following a ban on the organization after Gandhi’s assassination, which was finally revoked, it followed this policy vigorously and claimed a social and cultural profile for itself, which is completely untrue. It first floated a political front Bhartiya Jana Sangh which later became the present Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). D R Goyal in his well researched book ‘Rashtrya Swayamsewak Sangh’ has shown how the BJP and the RSS are interchangeable terms, pointing out to common members and workers in the two organisations. Goyal also brings to light the peculiar feature of the RSS, which he pointed out, rarely appears in public and hardly functions in its own name. “The RSS is only a breeding ground for cadres who carry its ideas and attitudes in different fields of life through specially set up front organizations,” he wrote, adding that the RSS only provides cadres to these fronts to act as “conveyers of ideas and controllers” on behalf of the parent organization. Since the 1980s with the phenomenal strengthening of the RSS and its political offshoot BJP, this trend has become even more systemic. The Gauri Lankesh murder investigations may fairly be seen in the light of the modus operandi of the Hindu right wing and their inter-connections.

Both HSS and HJS are fairly recent creations (post-1999) which explicitly aim to establish Hindu nation. They have been involved in acts of arson and bomb blasts including the Thane blasts. Hindu Sanatan Sanstha had a role to play in the 2008 agitation, with serious communal overtones, in Jammu over Amarnath land. According to one report in the wire.in, HSS and HJS were emboldened by political patronage facilitated by the BJP’s decisive victory in Goa. “In 2012, after the BJP won a majority on its own in Goa propelling Manohar Parrikar to the chief minister’s post again, the Sanatan Sanstha and HJS became increasingly assertive. In 2012 itself, the groups went into overdrive to put together the first All Indian Hindu Convention for establishment of Hindu Rashtra. The convention since then has become an annual event,” according to the report.

The trajectory of rise of such organizations as HSS and HJS is an interesting study that runs parallel to the ability of the BJP to capture power in the country and in various states. The HSS came up in 1999, coinciding with the rise of the BJP-led NDA government to power, a period that allowed RSS to silently infiltrate its cadres in every field and every part of the country and spread its tentacles with greater ease.

The other shocking aspect of the investigation is the agenda of preparing a hit list of hordes of intellectual and executing them one by one. The RSS and its affiliate members cannot challenge the words and ideas of intellectuals and free thinkers with rational arguments. And, so there is a tendency to silence them by annihilating their very existence. And while they do this, the political organ, BJP, in power, conveniently looks the other way. In fact, the BJP is getting more and more emboldened, strengthened by the vast expansion of the RSS, vertically and horizontally, and through an interworking of multiple new and old organisations. Its ministers indulge in frequent hate speeches or honour Gau Rakshaks accused or convicted of lynchings. If any doubts were left, these were set to rest on Friday by former union minister and Karnataka BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal when he dubbed intellectuals in the country as “dangerous” and said he would have ordered them shot. “If I was the Home minister, I would have asked to make them stand in a line and shoot them,” he said at Kargil Vijay Divas rally. And there is not even a whimper of condemnation from the top echelons of power.

The message is clear. Intellectuals are an obstruction in the Hindu nation project of the RSS-BJP. They are a challenge to its fascist mindset and must pay the price for speaking up in this new India, where democracy finds a new meaning and where shooting squads and lynch-mobs have been let loose to create a Hindutva version of Nazi gas chambers.

News Updated at : Sunday, July 29, 2018