Divided We Fall

Evelyn Beatrice Hall

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” — Evelyn Beatrice Hall

JNU sedition issue last year in January was bizarre and something that had never happened before in India, at least not at that scale. The perpetrators of the anti-India sloganeering were sent behind bars (a lot happened in between) but then came out on a bail, only to be hailed as a Che Guevara of Modern times by India Media (goes to show the amount of sensationalism Indian media loves). Somehow I knew last year that this issue won’t fade away easily, like it does in issues that it isn’t supposed to- rapes, corruption, for example. The wave of jingoism, thereon, reached an immense height. Jingoism- why? Because I’d absolutely hate calling this patriotism- for that would be an insult to the real patriots out there in the world contributing to the nation- do you hear me soldiers across the nation, ISRO scientists, honest tax-payers and everyone is who is doing their bit to make this country grow? This jingoism came in the form of social media warriors, propagandist media, clueless politicians, gaumata brigade and brought along tons and tons of hatred with it. Not only for the neighbouring nation, but also for the fellow countrymen, in equal measures. After the recent case of clashes in Ramjas College and the disgusting mob attack on social media on a martyr’s daughter- a 20 year-old Gurmehar Kaur, who advocated for peace between India and Pakistan in one of her videos and also stood against the ABVP in Ramjas case, I can safely say this nation doesn’t need a war now. It has already been divided and destructed in the name of nationalism, where there’s no room for difference in opinions and you are labelled an anti-national before you even know. The sense of division is unlike ever before, maybe even more visible because of the presence of social media- the echo chamber of all the hatred. The right is not right in this country and the left isn’t left with anything to say.

I, for one, study in the same university as Gurmehar Kaur’s, but my college is far away from the reach of politics. Chances of such things happening to me are rare. But does that make me feel safer and any better? No way. Who knows what my post-graduation college will have in offer for me? I feel like I am living in the tyranny of fear propagated by these student unions who have a different viewpoint than I do, except their reply to my spoken words is pelted stones (a thing which they absolutely loathe when done by separatists in Kashmir). A premier university like JNU (in case you have any doubt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jawaharlal_Nehru_University,_Delhi#Notable_alumni) is looked down upon as a groomer of terrorists by them when it, in fact, offers the most open atmosphere of discussions in this country. Like I told one of my friends jokingly, the only terrible thing these “discussions” can do to you is bore you with death. I would have loved to study in an institute that gave me an exposure and an environment where I can stand for what I think is right, be it on a trivial issue or on a complex issue like the Naxalites of India or the separatists in Kashmir. These things demand discussions and if you say they don’t, you’re only causing the hatred to increase. Suppressing the voices result in an expansion of hatred in the hearts and minds of the suppressed. Besides, is our country’s sovereignty so fragile as to break up by mere sloganeering of a few people? Talking about groomer of terrorists, I wonder why there was no “DNA analysis” on the arrested BJP IT head for having links with ISI? Also, no article up on The Frustrated Indian as well? Where does the nationalism fade away there?

The point being- India’s nationalism has been turned into a joke by these few leaders and their goons who give certificates to people- ranging from artists to common man. Were not Defence forces given their due respect before BJP came into power? I don’t believe they were not. But selling nationalism in the name of soldiers has really stained the value these forces endorse. You want to release a movie that has Pakistani artists in it? Donate 5 crore rupees to the army fund and get the certificate of nationalism. You want to belittle someone’s effort? Compare it to the soldiers dying at the border and make them sulk.

But unfortunately, this escape route is reserved for everyone except the affected martyr’s family and the soldiers themselves. For if they do so, they have some political motive, they are mentally unstable, they have some Pakistani friends on Facebook, and apparently their father’s martyrdom doesn’t affect their lives. Hypocrisy and bigotry at its peak.

The leftists of India are no better themselves. They are failing to tackle the voices and when they are doing so, they are doing it the wrong way- the same aggressive and cheap trolling for which Right Wing is famous. There are no two opinions in my mind about what Umar Khalid and his colleagues said was wrong, but being granted a bail officially by the court and called on for a mere discussion on a topic they have proficiency in- I fail to see anything wrong in that. If even there was, I don’t see the point of locking students in the conference room, punching and pushing them, pelting stones at them and giving rape threats to them.

ABVP’s Diksha Verma punching a student

Perhaps, a verbal dialogue between the student wings could have done the work, but sadly ABVP is no more into those things. Also, keep in mind that Ramjas college is not like JNU. There are students of age 17 to 20, who have just entered the college life and witnessing something as horrible as this would have left an indelible fear on their mind. I was naive at the age of 17 and if I would have faced a situation as horrific as this, I’d have probably thought of quitting DU.

In a nutshell, I don’t see anything wrong in what Gurmehar Kaur did. The frame of the video for which she is being ridiculed is taken out of context and is being terribly misunderstood by masses- including grown-ass celebrities and sports icons who are only promoting it. The video which was released about a year ago advocated a channel of peace between Pakistan and India, a “crime” which even our beloved Prime Minister has committed. Should he be shamed as well?

#IStandWithGurmeharKaur #IStandWithFOE #IStandWithIndia

Let sense prevail! A poem by Rabindranath Tagore that makes sense even now. Unfortunately, the ones who need to read it, won’t. This nation is in a dire need of someone who could recite this poem and explain it to them.

<Pardon me for grammatical mistakes, if there were any>

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