The inferno and mayhem that engulfed the nation’s capital for a few days in late February was tragic and heartrending. The loss of human lives and widespread destruction of both state and private property was appalling. On a purely human level, the magnitude of the losses that individuals and families had to bear was also disproportionately large, since the areas where the destruction took place were clearly underprivileged and less affluent than the rest of the capital city.
Saddened as we are by death and destruction, we owe it to ourselves and to our ancient civilisation to assess the recent tragedy as dispassionately as we can. Mere wringing of hands and even extending a dispassionate help-line to the victims of the carnage will not do. It is essential to put on our thinking caps and attempt to identify and study the reasons behind this conflagration as clinically and objectively as we can. Yes, murders, arson, killings and violence are heartrending in their impact and very often difficult to digest.
This writer and observer has no hesitation whatsoever in saying as emphatically as possible that the events were merely a disaster waiting to happen – a kettle or a factory boiler left unattended that would have exploded sooner or later. In such cases, it is only the degree of devastation that cannot be precisely estimated before the explosion takes place. In the Delhi outburst, the extent of the violence and destruction clearly surpassed what most observers were predicting. We will get to this issue later on in this essay.
The failures and deficiencies that led to the incidents last week were across the board – every single institution of the Indian Republic (except the Armed Forces that were mercifully spared in this disaster) were guilty of gross inefficiency, negligence, deliberate obduracy, manic grandstanding and outright malevolence. These crimes and offences are not ranked in any order of gravity.
And neither are the offenders whom I list now. The list comprises the polity (the Union Government and the Delhi Government, as well as a number of State Governments, like West Bengal etc. which gratuitously weighed in and pontificated on the Delhi events), the majority of the national political parties, led by the Congress and its motley allies, as well as the ruling coalition at the national level, the bureaucracy both at the apex echelon (and lower down), the police forces at all levels (whether the Delhi Police or the Central forces based in and around Delhi), the judiciary at the higher level (mainly because the lower judiciary was not involved), the Islamic clergy in Delhi and in the rest of the country that encouraged the squatters in Shaheen Bagh and the rioters in the streets last week and the media (specially the English newspapers and channels), along with their “intellectual” storm troopers.
We should now look at the role played by each of these actors. When the Shaheen Bagh mass blockade by women and children started, the Union Governments and its leading functionaries were strangely subdued and ineffective in their attempts to explain the CAA and its provisions. There should have been an information blitzkrieg from Raisina Hill to underline the salient features of the CAA (as enacted), as well as the forthcoming NRC and NPR that are so necessary for the country. This inertia was actually present even during the initial provocations by the Jamia Milia and Aligarh Muslim University marauding gangs, just after the CAA was enacted.
The West Bengal Government under the TMC and a few other State governments were, of course, openly hostile to the major changes in the Indian body politic that the CAA is meant to usher in. The AAP, from the beginning, played a dubious role in the entire affair. Aware of the Muslim vote bank that backed the party strongly, and yet not wanting to be shown as blatantly communal in the eyes of the non-Muslim voters, the AAP did a commendably adroit trapeze act before the Delhi State polls. When swept back to power in the capital, it clearly had no desire to confront the Shaheen Bag crowd.
The Congress was the chief agent provocateur. It constantly tried to ratchet up the confrontation and encouraged the anti-CAA rabble to become shriller every day. This political activism was matched by the complete lethargy of the central bureaucracy and the security forces. If they were actually discharging their duty of keeping the insurrectionary forces under watch, they were very successful in keeping their vigilance under wraps. Because, when the violence broke out and the extent of the resources that the rag-tag protesters actually had at their disposal was revealed, the Indian security apparatus had egg on its face.
The other placid spectator in this sad drama was the country’s judicial system, specifically the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court, to some extent. Because of the draconian power that the country’s apex judiciary has at its disposal, this commentator, like others, has to be especially circumspect in his observations. Having said this, I must not fail in my duty and should point out that the Supreme Court defied all logic and principles of law when it refused to ask the Shaheen Bagh lot to lift their blockage of a public road that they had closed for more than two months. Instead, it appointed some interlocutors to negotiate with the law-breakers and request them to move to a different location. Sure enough, the protestors refused to do so.
Article 19 (1) (b) of the Constitution indeed provides the right to every citizen to “assemble peaceably and without arms”. Yet, this right is immediately qualified in the subsequent Section (3) of the same Article, to allow the State to make “any law imposing, in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order, reasonable restrictions on the exercise” of the earlier right. When a major public artery in the capital of the Republic is blocked by protestors for more than 2 months, surely this latter provision rightfully comes into play.
The local police forces (including the Central police units posted in Delhi) and their associated intelligence units proved to be total disasters. When the actual disturbances broke out, it was woefully clear to all observers and analysts that the police paraphernalia had miserably failed to assess the extent of the threats and the relentless build-up of material, arms and cadres of the insurrectionists. Indeed, the organisational strengths and the levels of mobilisation that the insurrectionists displayed were of a very high level.
The actual performance of the khakiwallahs at the ground level as they confronted the rioters was ludicrous and risible. They strutted around in Army fatigues, their latest designer fad, and dismally failed to contain the prairie fires. The usual excuses will be proffered that they were waiting for the requisite green signal from their political and administrative masters. Ordinary citizens are entitled to ask them whether they have to wait for orders when they are confronted by a rioter holding a revolver against a police officer’s head. In any other country in the planet, including the most dysfunctional banana republic, other comrades of the besieged policeman would have taken out the criminal gunman with a long-distance head shot.
The only silver lining in this dismal scenario of the khakiwallahs playing out their puerile fantasies in Army uniforms is that the actual armed forces have now been compelled to protest to the Defence Ministry that police forces should no longer be permitted to wear clothing that resembles Army uniforms.
The dismal role of the English media (print and electronic) in these events needs a detailed analysis and assessment on its own. Apart from a few channels and anchors, the whole caboodle of “secular” TV commentators and their assorted “academic” experts sang their usual songs and chanted their normal scriptures.
At this stage, I would like to go back to history and briefly point out to some other instances where countries and regimes were destabilised by foreign countries and their allies, ultimately resulting in the fall of legitimate governments and democratically-elected regimes. The first case relates to the CIA’s coup in Chile in 1973, when the popular government of President Allende was overthrown in 1973 by an armed forces junta. The American President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, regarded Chile as a potential “second Cuba”. They decided, in the words of one cabinet member, to “make the Chilean economy scream”.
Strikes by lorry drivers financed by the US paralysed distribution of food and essential items, created a sense of chaos and forced Chileans to queue for petrol, food and medical treatment. Official American documents released many decades after the coup in Chile confirmed that the U.S. was providing weapons as well as funds to the saboteurs. The CIA also used a group of Chileans of German origin, who were rabid pro-Nazis, to drum up discontent in the country, especially among the law-and-order establishment. Readers in India will get the drift of what I am saying.
We have to go back a little further in history to the Spanish Civil War from 1936 onwards, when the rebels under General Franco used the “5th Columnists” to undermine and weaken the legitimately-elected Republican government. In socio-political analysis, a fifth column is any group of people who undermine a country or society from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilise openly to assist an external attack. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defence establishments by secret sympathisers of an external force. All this will be eerily familiar to people who observed the Delhi events a few days ago.
The origins of the disinformation campaign waged by some propagandists in India in the last few years can be traced back to old Goebbels and his Big Lie concept. Joseph, the Machiavellian villain, actually borrowed the concept from his guru, Adolf Hitler. Between the two of them, they fine-tuned and perfected this insidious technique so well that a supposedly- cultured people like the Germans fell for it. They unquestioningly believed whatever was dished out to them. The basis for all this was the notion that a lie big enough, if it is repeated often, will have people subscribing to it. In our country, the prayers from the mosques and assiduous parroting of their messages by people like the Sardesais and the Javed Akhtars all follow the Big Lie technique.
Finally, I would like to briefly remind my readers about the fundamentals of the “soft state” concept. This is because present-day India perfectly mirrors all the attributes of this model. This important sociological construct was first proposed by the well-known Swedish economist and social scientist Gunnar Myrdal in 1968 and 1970. According to him, a soft state is characterised by “all the various types of social indiscipline which manifest themselves by deficiencies in legislation and, in particular, law observance and enforcement, a widespread disobedience by public officials and, often, their collusion with powerful persons and groups … whose conduct they should regulate. Within the concept of the soft states belongs also corruption.”
In conclusion, let me emphasise what I have said earlier on many occasions. India’s civilisational enemies read the same texts that we do.
The recent events in Delhi are a wake-up call for all of us.
The author has articulated the views of a rational citizen very well.
However, as I see it the blame lies squarely at the doors of the apex court. These judges have emasculated all the other organs and institutions of governance. They had dumped a duly enacted law for constituting a national commission for appointment of judges. They had ruled that FIR will be filed in all cases of civilian death in areas where the armed forces are operating under the AFSPA, they had directed action to be taken against police officers who had stood by their subordinates during the confrontation with unruly advocates and so on…
Those apart, the judicial flip flops in the matter of right to protest needs recapitulation. This apex court had once held that bandhs were illegal, later condoned them saying that the right to protest is almost a fundamental right in a democracy. Meanwhile the Kerala High Court even banned road side meetings and send to jail a politician for calling the bluff of that decision. Legally it was for contempt of court for calling the judge who gave that decision a ‘sumban’ (dimwit). But horribly the same court had called that politician a worm during the same proceedings.
It is important to note that while the apex court had right away dismissed a petition to declare CAA as legal with the sarcastic remark that it was for the first time that the court was called upon to declare a duly enacted law as legal, it merely adjourned, by more than a month, almost 60 petitions to declare it as illegal, before proceeding on Christmas vacation. Now, did not this add fuel to the fire of disinformation being spread by the scamgress and allied parties?
The government cannot be faulted for not clarifying the issues involved in CAA. For anybody who had understood it there was nothing to protest. For those who had not understood it, it didn’t matter anyway. Then how did the trouble erupt? Without doubt, due to the deliberate false propaganda of the anti national elements.
Very very correctly and incisively analysed.
Why did the Central government not take spontaneous police action to disperse these Shaheen bagh ‘squatters who were actually planted there by the P. AAP Party with the Kachrawala heading the Delhi State?
The wretched Congress & Kachrawala were instigators and devilishly encouraging them with free Biriyani, tea and money! Shameful that the government let them continuethat later resulted in carnage, killing and rioting.
No nation in the whole wide world would ever have tolerated such blatant disobedience, apathetic and completely unlawful rebellious behaviour!
How did they dare to?
Of course, there were ‘internal & external enemies’ adding fuel to the fire.
Now the latest disregard of this ‘cursed community that poses to be the followers of peace’ by holding religious gatherings in mosques at the time of worldwide pandemic Covid-19 again exposes their true Jihadic mentality!
One would have definitely seen the viral videos of this community spitting on clean floors of hospital wards (Kanpur), soiling the walls with spit and other dirty nasal secretions, fruit vendors contaminating oranges with dirty saliva – all done deliberately with utterly brazen disregard for law and order and respect for the safety of other fellow countrymen!
This is definitely the new jihad being promoted by their ‘rehnuma’ – lighting their paths to attain Jannat!
How and why should the government at the Centre tolerate placidly all that has occurred in the last 2and à half months?
How can that rogue P. AAPi be let off without being questioned and rightfully punished for the role played by him and his henchmen?
The author has very rightfully demanded valid questions that need to be analysed, answered and action taken against the perpetrators of anti-national activities.
First for disobeying police orders to clear Shaheen Bagh and now congregating illegally
in mosques and spreading the Coronavirus among the people.
How long can this go on???
This is a superb and very well-written assessment of the Delhi events by this most gifted writer and columnist. His insight and depth of understanding are exemplary. He goes straight to the point, without the usual waffling that many Indian professional journalists resort to. For members of the Indian diaspora like me, this essay provides information and facts that are not known or readily available. More power to Jay Bhattacharjee’s pen.
the writer is assuming the protester were logical thinkers without political anti national agenda. u cannot wake up a person who is faking sleep.
What is the purpose of this post? The commentator, Abhay Kharade, has merely picked up the author’s assessment and analysis, and then used them in a supposed critique of the essay. What narcissism!
There is no point in blaming everybody, the fault lies with the govt. For some strange reason the HM treated the protests in Shaheen Bagh with kid gloves. At least when an infant died due to exposure to cold , he should have warned them to disperse and asked the NCPCR to take action against the mother who expressed no remorse and even said more children could die for the cause. The strong man image of the HM took a beating and the women continued to block the roads and created mayhem. Compare this with the way PC handled the Baba Ramdev protest in Ramlila grounds in 2011. The police rounded up the protesters a little after midnight, used tear gas, lathis and arrested BR and many of his followers, one woman died in this crackdown and several were injured. Even the SC pulled up the police for this midnight raid on sleeping protesters. Sibal said ” If we are accomodative, we can also be firm”. In the early stages a senior official should have gone to SB and explained to the women the the real purpose of the CAA and requested them to disperse peacefully. If that failed,the govt could have warned them of action to clear the road blocks and then taken police action. Prior to that they should have warned the women that bringing minor children to the protest site is prohibited. Since the govt. went soft , the protesters took advantage of the situation.Recall Sibal’s words above and PC’s firm action.
The SC also was reluctant to act, it sent a known protest sympathiser and anti-Modi lawyer to mediate. A predictable result followed.
This is exactly what the author has written.
Jay Bhattacharya started off well by condemning all who were guilty of inaction.
He too was critical of Judiciary but didn’t highlight that the Judiciary’s decision to allow Shaheen Bagh aids in deepening the chasm between the Hindus and Muslims .
Jay too laid the blame of mis information on the doors of the political parties but surprisingly missed out the chilling videos of people in power which clearly state NRC after CAA and the Delhi elections saw plethora of such vile pronouncements from the present law makers. That nor law enforcers or EC or Judiciary took suo moto cognisance of them erring at will depicts the state of these institutions or their complicity . And all such institutions are mandated to protect the Constitution and the common citizen s.
As per Jay, media should only be mouthpiece of the political party which is in power or they are to be termed subversive. Does Jay realise that dissent, discussion are the bulwark of a healthy democracy.
Jay is under the premise that all acts of any Government in power is to be taken as a gospel truth but that would belie the true definition of a Patriot , that ” A Patriot loves his / Her country the foremost and the Government of the Day , when it acts only in the good of the Nation”,
Nation comes first Jay, Always and there isn’t any compromise on this . And this can only happen when Institutions meant to safeguard the Constitution and Citizens , act fearlessly, less activism and maintain the Checks and Balances on the Government of the Day , as mandated for them in the Constitution.
Its only when these Institutions mandated to maintain the Checks and balances err, a nation becomes a ” Soft state”.
Wonder what effect this article will have at the Junior leaders of the Armed Forces ?
“Country First and till the last , Always and till Eternity ” Jay.
This is a meandering and confused post. The writer is either unaware of what he was discussing or he was deliberately trying to obfuscate the issues. It is sad to see some Indians being so cavalier with the truth and facts in their public discourse.
The author has written a very clear and precise essay on the sad events in Delhi a few weeks back and pinpointed the various factors that were at play. Why is Rabindra finding it difficult to understand the key points that this article makes ?. To cap it all, his last but one sentence is almost seditious. By introducing a non-existent issue, Rabindra is playing with fire. Why is he involving the country;s armed forces in this scenario?
Cleartly sums out the acts of omission on disturbances resulting from active disinformation by interested politicos to the gullible muslim hoards culminating in mass hysteria
The judiciary, the last resort of law clearly forgot its duty to protect the rights of the common man, who has been suffering all along.
A very well articulated article . I have already recirculated it Dada . Only If whats the Way out and long term solutions for Indics to Safeguard their Long term Civilisational interests would have been an added attraction.
Am excellent and clear analysis!
A very thoughtful analysis. Foreign powers take full advantage of India’s weakness as the weakness is firmly related to India’s Hindu Identity. The looting, the plundering and the exploiting of India and the ruthless persecution of the natives of the Land called India is sanctioned by both religious and political doctrines of the foreign invaders.
I will compare the Delhi street protests and disturbances to events associated with the dismemberment of the Republic of Yugoslavia that began in 1996, and the street protests and violence in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014. Foreign powers accomplished regime changes by orchestrating street protests and by provoking race/ethnic violence and intimidation.
Your photo seems familiar. You served as the Regimental Medical Officer of a Special Frontier Force unit (Vikas Regiment) as a captain. Isn’t it?
All this recent mayhem proves that ISI has got the measure of RAW. If NSA Doval has any integrity, he should submit his resignation immediately, instead of going around in the public for a photo opportunity to show his face as it is being reported in the news. If not, the cabinet needs to dismiss him. But will that happen? It reminds of the Chinese attack when Nehru shamelessly admitted that he was wrong in assessing Chou-en-Lai’s intentions. Were India a European nation, Nehru would have been shown the door out by the parliament the very next day. But nothing happened to his career, he continued in his “majestic” style as usual.
But that is the Indian nation. Modi & Co has naively played into the hands of TMC. This brings in Gurkhaland in the context of CAA. Nepalese people have been moving into the Darjeeling hills area ever since the1950s due to the open border of India and Nepal to get a better life economically. What about their citizenship? If you migrate to any of the western countries and settle there, you have to accept the local customs, language, etc. You cannot create your own enclave. But in the case of Gurkhas coming from adjoining Nepal, they are claiming land and everything by strong-arm tactics driving out the Bengali population from the Hills area over the years and want to create their own state now. But BJP turns a blind eye there going hand in gloves with these Nepali thugs for their own vote banks. If any Nepali wants to settle in Bengal, he must first seek permission from the Indian state to come there and made to accept the local values and customs – they cannot create their enclave. So CAA becomes a farce in the context. No political party in Delhi could care less about this state of affairs in Darjeeling. Modi is operating as the Prime Minister of Gujarat, not of India. You cannot go on slamming sedition charge willy nilly making it a farce.
All in all the writer has made a good incisive analysis here and credit is due to him.
I will give the benefit of doubt to Prime Minister Nehru. He was caught up between the Devil and the Deep Blue. India could not deal with the security challenge posed by China’s military conquest of Tibet in 1950. As you may know, China’s military adventurism was fully supported by the Soviet Union. India was not in a position to publicly offend the Soviet Union for India desperately needed the support of the Soviet Union to defend Kashmir from aggression instigated by the United Kingdom and the United States.
I do not agree with you. Soviets warned Delhi of impending Chinese attack in 1961 via the parliamentarian Mahavir Tyagi (Maxwell ?), but it fell on deaf ears of the PM. So after the humiliation, Congress put pressure on Nehru to get rid of Krishna Menon. Nehru would not budge. Then Congress gave an ultimatum that the PM must go. On that point Nehru had to agree on the dismissal of Menon to save his skin. You will find this record if you dig into the archives. Where did you read that the Chinese were fully supported by the Soviets in 1962? In fact, it was right the opposite. Sino-Soviet split has by then just started and in the aftermath of 1962, Soviets supplied India Mig 21 which they denied the Chinese who had only 17 and perhaps 19 inferior to 21. Even now to my information, Moscow passes on to India superior military hardware and technology than what they give to Beijing. If the Kashmir plebiscite came
up again in the Security Council, Russia will most likely veto the move – but that resolution is dead irrespective of whatever Pak and some others make noise.
Nobody in the highest position of any sovereign state deserves the benefit of the doubt on issues of war and defeat, and that includes Nehru. By the way, had India continued the war then in 1962 instead of chickening out in cowardice, India would have turned the table on China. Every aggressor has the upper hand initially in a war since it has planned about it, but the defender has to carry on to the end. Had India allowed the IAF to go to war in 1962, it would have devastated the PLA on the ground, the Chinese did not have any airbase in Tibet. Even at present, the PLA Air Force is at a great disadvantage in contrast to IAF because of the Himalayas. Read also some excellent accounts and analysis by Claude Arpi appearing in IDR from time to time in this context
An excellent analysis by the columnist. One of his most trenchant pieces ever, that rips the masks off the faces of Shaheen Bagh saboteurs and subversives. The political dispensation and the higher judiciary lost all nerve. It is one of the most shameful instances of how the whole system collapsed without a fight and disgraced itself.