Patronizing intolerance

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Despite the conflicting reports over the incident involving attack on Umar Khalid outside the Constitution Club in Central Delhi, the very fact that a man in possession of a gun grappled with the JNU student leader and brandished his gun is convincing enough argument that Umar is under potential threat from unknown persons. The conflicting versions of eye-witnesses pertain by and large to whether the attacker fired or not before he dropped his gun in a huff and fled. The rest of the versions have proved to be part of a fake news campaign triggered by some journalist who later retracted from his words. So, two facts emerge. One, the assailant came to attack Umar Khalid and second, that he came with a gun. These highlight the definite plan to kill, injure or intimidate the JNU student leader. Youth high on toxic ultra-nationalism have been baying for his blood ever since the JNU episode two years ago, after which sedition charges were pressed against Umar Khalid and he was consistently vilified on social media and by the professional media. This incident is part of a larger pattern of revengeful violence against dissenters and minorities seen across the country by systemically injecting a false sense of nationalism and invoking hatred against those who do not subscribe to that view. The shocking murders of Gauri Lankesh, preceded by murders of other rationalists like Dabholkar and Pansare, are also part of a similar pogrom. While these murders were more planned, the day to day attacks by revengeful mobs and persons are on the rise and pushing the country into abject lawlessness. The worst is that such attacks are being carried out with a sense of pride as two sting operations have lucidly revealed in the cases of cow vigilante mobs lynching poor Muslims over beef allegations with the tacit backing of the state’s institutions. Those involved in the lynching have been caught on camera admitting to their crime with great pride and claiming that the police was backing them. Much worse, a union minister felicitated cow vigilantes accused of murder at a grand ceremony recently. Such incidents and the way they are being patronised by those at the helm of affairs are a shocking reflection of the manner in which hate factories are being run in top gear, producing hate soaked revengeful citizens who will settle their scores with the rest. This is a typical way in which Hindu right wing RSS operates. It churns a discourse to provoke ordinary people into perpetuating violence and starting riots and, killings and mob-lynching. Now that the Hindu right wing is in power, it is able to achieve this with greater ease as its stealth is camouflaged at various levels by the state operatives. What makes the attack on Umar Khalid particularly shocking is also the fact that the incident took place in the highly securitized zone of Central Delhi, right under the nose of the seat of power. The Constitution Club is in the neighbourhood of the Indian Parliament and the offices of all the major central government functionaries and ministers. The incident also took place two days before Independence Day and raises the pertinent question of how a man is allowed to sneak in just outside the gates of Constitution Club and brandish his weapon despite massive sanitization operations in the area and beefed up security. This smacks of greater state patronage to such hooligans and assailants than is known about in the public domain. If there is method in this madness, then there is cause of deeper worry as it reveals the attempts being made right from the top echelons of power to push this country into deeper chaos and plunge it into a kind of hatred that allows mobs and hooligans to perpetuate violence in a systematic way, revealing that how those in power who should be protecting their citizens and the constitution are becoming the very tools in annihilating the citizens and subverting the constitution.