BJP debates lynchings but wants Cong to jump through Godhra and '84 hoops first
If you have been following the numerous episodes of lynching and mob violence across the country over the last two years, were you ever able to draw a connect between them and the riots that took place in 2002?
The BJP just did that, in the debate on increasing “incidents of lynching and atrocities on minorities and Dalits”, in the Rajya Sabha.
If it was anybody's case to argue that lynching of Muslims in the name of cow-protection from 2015 to now and the post-Godhra riots are connected to the same ideology, it was the Opposition's. However, even as the Opposition refrained from it so far, the BJP has gone ahead and proudly ascribed a communal motive to the lynchings.
It also nearly admitted that these lynchings are the handiwork of its own people.
Speaking during the debate, education minister Prakash Javadekar began by condemning the incidents, calling them crimes against humanity. They must be punished, he asserted. However, quickly adding a caveat, Javadekar also said that it was a case of selective amnesia that these incidents were being highlighted while the “lynching and murder of 3000 Sikhs” in the 1984 riots and the killing of “Godhra rambhakts” was not being talked about.
Government owns up cow terrorists
The import of Javadekar's argument was that the Congress can not complain about these lynchings as the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 took place on its watch.
He also implied that Opposition leaders shouldn't lament these lynchings because they did not shed any tears for the kar sevaks who were burnt alive in the Sabarmati Express, leading to the post-Godhra riots.
Look at the many chords that the minister's comment touched.
One, he tried to revive the Congress' communal past, implying that Congress wasn't any less communal than the BJP. Two, he simultaneously justified the present round of lynchings from the prism of the post-Godhra riots and also justified 'riots' by mentioning only the Godhra incident.
Coming from a union minister, this statement amounts to nearly the government's defence of the self-professed cow vigilantes and others who have resorted to violence in the name of the cow. This also flies in the face of the government's reluctant distancing from these elements as enunciated by Prime Minister Modi in his recent statements against such violence.
The ghosts of Godhra
The mention of Godhra is a double whammy. The BJP and other organisations of the Sangh Parivar have always held that the post-Godhra riots that killed over a thousand people were the result of an outpouring of anger among the Hindu community for the killing of kar sevaks in the train. The bodies were paraded in public by these organisations before the riots began.
The repeated reference to Godhra is meant as a diabolical message for Muslims – that they must never forget what these organisations are capable of. It is also a kind of chest-thumping by BJP leaders that it must never be forgotten and that they are capable of doing what happened in Gujarat in 2002 again and also escape the long arm of law.
It is a reminder to all those opposed to them that they have only gotten stronger, in all ways imaginable.
The message for 2017 is clear. All those who are neither BJP allies nor a part of its constituency are being told that they will be hit hard and they will have nowhere to run to. The lynchings will not stop.
The list will continue much beyond Mohammad Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan and Junaid.