Umar Khalid and the Hate Republic

Umar Khalid, a Ph D scholar of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)—once hallowed with its academic reputation but now hollowed out by its saffron vice chancellor–was attacked by a gun wielding assailant inside the premises of the constitution club, situated within a high security zone barely 500 meters away from the parliament house on 13 August, just two days before the Independence Day. Ironically, he had gone to attend an event titled Khauff Se Azaadi (freedom from fear), organised by an NGO, “United Against Hate”, featuring Rakbar Khan’s family, Junaid Khan’s family, RohithVemula’s mother Radhika Vemula, and Najeeb Ahmed’s mother Fatima Nafees, among the speakers. The police reaction was curious; they wanted to ascertain whether the incident was not staged. Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP MP ridiculed that Umar was playing the victim card. And some hindutva bigots lamented on social media that he was still alive and swore to do no mistake next time.

Umar Khalid
Image: Indian Express

Umar could well have been dead but for his friends disorienting the killer. He would have just been added to the list of martyrs—Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MalleshappaKalburgi, Shujaat Bukhari, GauriLankesh–who were gunned down by hindutva bigots. While Narendra Modi delivered his hysteric speech from the rampart of the Red Fort, trying to impress people with his characteristic hyperboles, half-truths and pure lies that reminded one of ‘India Shining’ campaign of Vajpayee’s NDA that had teased Indian voters to punish it for a decade, he did not express an iota of remorse over the jungle raj he created within just four years.

Who’s the Mastermind?

The next day Umar tweeted, also identifying the person who tried to shoot him. He was caught in CC TV camera. On 16 August,two men—Darwesh Shapur and Naveen Dala–claimed responsibilityfor the attack as “a gift of independence”by circulating a video on WhatsApp. The police that display amazing intelligence in discovering whatever documents required in establishing non-existent trail in admittedly ultra-secret Maoist network, hadpictures of the assailants their identities, and posting on WhatApp but could not reach anywhere. As I write,sevendays after the incident and fourdays after the availability of above information, there is no arrest.

The point, however, is not the police, whose credibility is an enduringquestion mark, but the temerity of the assailants to publicly challenge institutions that reveals brazen impunity they enjoy under the currentdispensation. After this shameful incident, the troll with which the hindutva camp celebrated it is perhaps more revealing:“Really condemn the unsuccessful attempt of shooting!! Try lynching him next time… This kind of anti national elements must be eliminated as soon as possible…”; Khalid hum sharminda Hain..tum jaise abhi bhi zinda hain.”[1] Are these not abetments to murder? Are these people not identifiable? The police that threatened ArunFereira’s friends who tried to testify to his innocence when he was arrested in 2009 with Maoist tag, that they too would be booked as Maoists[2], simplyignore such cognizable crime. This is not the first time that hate speech has gone brazen and unpunished on social media. When GauriLankesh was shot dead last year, along with condolences and outrage, social media erupted with hate, with many openly celebrating her killing. One recalls some Nikhil Dadhich writing, “Ekkutiyakuttekimautkyamarisarepilleek sur me bilbilarahehai” or some Aditya Jung Bahadur Rana writing, “..I hail who did that [killing Gauri]..salute them. Now plz don’t stop at that. Start shooting all those like her & d anti-nationals …” Needless to say, no action was taken against any of these culprits. 

This is still around the symptom and not the disease. Even if the man who pulled the trigger is booked, the real culprits will still be at large. After all they are the creations of the motivated propaganda by certain hate channels like Republic, Times Now and Zee TV which shamelessly act as the BJP’s propaganda arm. The anchors like Arnab Goswami, the court jester of jingoism created the hashtag of “anti-national” and “tukdetukde gang” for Umar without a shred of evidence is singularly responsible for this attack. His imitators like Navika Kumar, Rahul Shivshankar and Anand Narasimhanareare accomplices in the crime. Gaurav Bhatia, BJP’s national spokesperson, is the instigator of crime when he says on television, “Umar Khalid ketukdekarenge’” The police that overlooked his demand for protection in the wake of death threatsis an abettor. Umar issued a statement on this attack wrote:
This hate campaign against me has been going on for last two years. There is no evidence, only lies. There has been no charge-sheet, only media-trial….. BJP leaders openly support those who say they will do “tukdetukde” of the country…The real culprits were people breeding an ‘atmosphere of hatred, bloodlust and fear’ from their seats of power and those providing a complete impunity for ‘assassins and mob lynchers.’[3]

Along the Murder Trail
To the extent the attack on Umar bears similarity with the previous murders, the tentacles of the killer outfit that operated in Maharashtra-Goa-Karnataka appears to have reached the North. Narendra Dabholakar, who crusaded against superstition through his organization- Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (ANIS) struggled to get the anti-superstition bill passed in Maharahstra Assembly. It was opposed mainly by the orthodox Hindu outfits like Hindu JanajagrutiSamiti (HJS), a sister organization of the SanatanSanstha, a Goa-based extreme right-wing Hindu organisation headed by one Dr. Jayant Athawale. Two days before Dabholkar was gunned down on 20 August 2013, a caricature, published in SanatanSanstha mouthpiece, SanatanPrabhat depicted ANIS as a demon being slain by the HJS, Hindutvawadi outfits and Warkariorganisations. It was captioned “DharmdrohiKaydaBargalala (Anti-Religion Bill falls flat)” It clearly portended what followed.A day after, Athvalewrote in SanatanPrabhat, “It’s God’s grace to die in a manner in which Dabholkar died. It [instant death] is better than dying of a prolonged illness or suffering from pain induced by surgical procedures.,” Although these were clear enough clues, politicians rhetorically spoke of banning the organization but not to interrogate Athawale for his suggestive remarks. On 16 February 2015, Govind Pansare and his wife were fired upon, killing Pansare and paralyzing his wife. Two more murders would follow: Kalburgi’s on 30 August 2015 and GauriLankesh’s on 5 September 2017.
The SanatanSanstha appears to be the anchor for all these murders. Sanstha founded in 1999with a goal to establish Hindu Rashtra openly professes slaying of evildoers and had a systematic time table to reach its goal in 2023, which strikingly coheres with RSS versions. It terms the minorities, especially Christians and Muslims as the biggest obstacle and speaks of need to defeat even police and military to build a Hindu rashtra.[4] It considers “Violence towards evildoers is non-violence” and not to slay (murder) an evildoer as sin.[5]A list of 46 such evildoers was recovered by Karnataka SIT from Amol Kale, the mastermind of Gauri’s murder that contained the names of many progressive persons including leading Goan writer Damodarmauzo, provoking an on-going agitation in Goa to oust it. The expose of the Sanstha even in public domain is replete with gory details every bit of which is unlawful, which could shame the worst terrorist but none could touch it. Can this happen without blessings of power?

Hate Infrastructure
Much of the exposure of the murder network was accomplished by the Karnataka police but Maharashtra police groped in dark although most of the crime network existed on its soil and first of its crimes took place there. It is only when last month an exasperated bench of justices SC Dharamadhikari and Bharati Dangre of the Bombay High Court reprimanded the CBI as well as the government that the ATS raids in various places exposed the hate infrastructure of the hindutva forces. In four raids carried out in Nallasopara and Pune since August 9 this year, the ATS has allegedly recovered 20 crude bombs, a large cache of firearms and ammunition, including 16 country-made pistols, five air guns, ten pistol barrels, seven pistol slides, nine partially assembled pistols, 30 live cartridges, six pistol magazines, three partially-made magazines and springs and triggers for firearms; gelatin sticks, 26 detonators, safety fuse wires, 150 grams of white powder wrapped in newspaper, two bottles labelled ‘poison’, batteries, soldering equipment, PCB circuits, relay switches, a hand-drawn partial circuit diagram, circuit drawings and printouts on the composition of explosives. Apparently, and as ATS reported, this cache is not meant just to kill individuals but to hatch bigger conspiracies to polarize people to achieve their nefarious goal of hindurashtra.[6]

All the arrested people—Vaibhav Raut, Sharad Kalaskar, Sudhanva Gondhalekar and Shrikant Pangarkar—who are arrested recently or Sameer Gaikwad, VirendraTawde who were arrested earlier by Maharashtra ATS or Amol Kale, ParshuramWaghmare, and all others who were arrested by Karnataka ATS have been associated with hardline Hindutva outfits operating in Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka such as the SanatanSanstha, its affiliate Hindu JanjagrutiSamiti (HJS), SambhajiBhide’s Shri Shivpratishthan Hindustan and PramodMuthalik’s Sri Ram Sene, which are all ideological babies of the hydra-headed organization called RSS. It is said that Athawale of SanatanSanstha hypnotizes people into human robots to execute whatever is tasked to them. But the RSS has over the year hypnotized gullible masses of people into Hindu automatons who turn go rakshaks to lynch innocent people to death and come out on street in thousands in support of a rogue criminal as they did in protest against the arrest of VaibhavRaut in Nalasopara.

It is this venom that benumbed masses into enduring personal hardships unleashed by demonetization, blinded them to the destruction of the nation with jingoistic nationalism and made them celebrate lies as truth on to the path of self-destruction. It is the same venom that actuated them to brutally beat up Prof Sanjai Kumar in Motihari, Bihar just for commenting irreverently about Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his facebook page. It is this venom that spilled out in the form of tweets in the wake of unprecedented human tragedy as in Kerala: “Please donate to keep Kerala Hindus. Christians and Muslims worldwide raising lots of money to help mainly their own people and agendas” This tweet by the US-based Rajiv Malhotra, was retwitted in the thousands in India including the likes of Mohandas Pai.[7]

This hate republic is out to destroy India!

This article has also been published in the Economic and Political Weekly and is being reproduced here with the author’s permission

[1]Celebrating Attack on Umar Khalid – Isn’t That Seditious?
[2]Sandhya Srinivasan, Speaking out against wrong actions is both a right and a duty,
[4]Alok Deshpande, Hindu Rashtra is Sanatan’s goal,
[5]Rajan Narayan, ‘Goa Bachao, SanatanHatao’, 04-10 Aug 2018, Goan Observer
[6]VaibhavRaut: The bully of Nallasopara, Mumbai Mirror, 19 August 2018.
[7]T. S. Sudhir, Could there be anything worse than the Right linking #KeralaFloods to beef and Sabarimala?



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