AAP Vigilantism and BJP criticism
By Faraz Ahmad
By now all sane and sensible people have condemned the Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti’s act of mobbing and sexually assaulting four young African women in Khirki village, Malviya Nagar on Thursday night, notwithstanding Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s theatre of the absurd of sitting on a dharna at Boat Club to demand action against officials of Delhi Police who came to the rescue of the African women.
It is bizarre, it is absurd, it is unimaginable—the Law minister of the capital of India leading vigilante mobs in posh South Delhi colony (residents pay rents double and triple the normal rate in other parts of Delhi only for relative peace and security and foreigners, specially poor Africans are charged many times more than the normal rates by the Shylockian owners of premises in South Delhi), Then Bharti’s band publicly egged on the Police officials to participate in this mob orgy, and satisfied its sexual fantasies by publicly witnessing their cavity search at AIIMS and forcing hapless women to provide in the open their urine samples. It was also one of the rare occasions when the victims actually praised the Delhi Police for coming to their rescue.
But what is to be expected from a briefless lawyer, indicted for tampering with evidence by the Patiala House court, now strutting around as a Law minister? Obviously the man seems to have little knowledge and regard for Law. But instead of feeling contrite and apologizing to the young African women, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his band chose to brazen it out! Virtually putting his stamp of approval on Somnath Bharti’s shocking observation “Yeh log hamare jaise nahin hote (These people are not like us)!” Meaning we are the virtuous lot. Ha, ha, ha! A disgustingly racist public utterance, which was enough for any civilized and just government to sack him immediately. But then this is the same set of people who insulted Lalu Yadav from the podium at Ramlila Grounds for having too many children and the vast crowd sitting there clapped and screamed in joy. This is the mob, whom suave socialist Yogendra Yadav represents through his glib talk and Comrade Kamal Mitra Chenoy has chosen to join!
But why laugh at them? The South Delhiwallahs accompanying Somnath Bharti also felt the same way about the poor Africans, It is symptomatic of a mindset which believes that all dark skinned people are criminals, drug addicts and their women prostitutes. Somnath Bharti was naïve enough to publicly spell that out in so many words. It is the same mindset which believes that all Muslims are terrorists, they have four wives and have 25 children. Remember Narendra Modi’s public denigration of hapless victims of post Godhra massacre, dying a slow death in Ahmedabad relief camps, again arranged not by his government but the community itself: “Hum paanch, hamare pachees.” Earlier in 1980s they discussed in their drawing rooms how Khalistanis had poisoned their drinking water. All Sanghi propaganda.
BJP and specially Arun Jaitley’s or Vijay Goel’s condemnation of this vigilantism therefore sounds hollow , because this racist and communal mindset is a product of the breeding and training provided in the Sangh shakhas and from the time RSS was formed it specialized in spreading rumours about the “others” and leading violent vigilante mobs to terrorise and chase the “others” out. That’s exactly what Somnath Bharti and his AAP volunteers were doing on January 16 nght. Only difference, the shoe is on the other foot now. There is a saying in Hindi, “Guru gud hi raha chela shakkar ho gaya”–the student outdoing his trainer.
We were still too young and impressionable when the Indo-Pak war of 1965 took place and the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri gave a free rein to the RSS to go around the streets to enforce blackouts. But I remember that anyone switching on the lights even for a minute in our Timarpur government quarters, was immediately labeled as a Pakistani spy. That was not all. It had become impossible for Burqa clad women to negotiate Chandni Chowk because veils were snatched by Sangh vigilantes on the pretext of Pakistani spies hiding behind those veils. That was the first time RSS got a free rein in independent India and that was also the first demonstration of such vigilantism. Later day Shiv Sena, Sri Ram Sene and such others strutting around the streets of Bangalore, Mangalore and Ahmedabad or Mumbai, all drew their lessons and training from the same source–the Sangh. Had BJP been in power it might have done the same thing, except that perhaps Dr Harsh Vardhan, Arun Jaitely and Vijay Goel may not have participated openly in this naked drama. Nevertheless, Arun Jaitley and Vijay Goel criticising Somnath Bharti and Arvind Kejriwal is like the Kettle calling the Pot Black.