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FTR #990 Hindutva Fascism, Part 3: Modi Operandi

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Introduction: Continuing our FTR series on Hindutva fascism (Hindu nationalist fascism) we highlight key features of the governance of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose BJP is a political front for the RSS. Formed along the lines of Mussolini’s Blackshirts in 1925, the RSS was the organization that assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. (We have discussed Modi, the RSS and the BJP in numerous broadcasts, including FTR #’s 795, 889, 441, 442, 445, 988 and 989.)

In past discussions of the RSS and BJP, we have noted the following:

  1. Modi’s political fortunes were boosted with support and apparent financing from Pierre Omidyar, who also helped finance the rise of the OUN/B fascists in Ukraine.
  2. Modi and his BJP are viewed with great favor by Breitbart kingpin, former Trump campaign manager and adviser Steve Bannon. A number of Trump’s business associates in India are associated with the BJP.
  3. Bernie Sanders’ prospective Vice-Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard helped arrange the details for Modi’s American visit and is networked with the RSS.
  4. Under Modi, anti-Muslim violence has dramatically accelerated, while free speech has been attenuated. BJP members have celebrated Gandhi’s murder.

 In this program, we flesh out our coverage of Narendra Modi’s governance of India.

Beginning with discussion of Modi’s appointment of Yogi Adityanath to be the governor of Uttar Pradesh province, India’s largest, we note:

  1. Yogi Adityanath is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).  ” . . . . Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, found his vocation in college as an activist in the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu organization. . . .”
  2. Adityanath’s political foundation is the virulently anti-Muslim ideology of the RSS:  . . . . As leader of a temple known for its militant Hindu supremacist tradition, he built an army of youths intent on avenging historic wrongs by Muslims, whom he has called ‘a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped.’ At one rally he cried out, ‘We are all preparing for religious war!’ . . .” 
  3. Modi’s “pro-business,” “pro-development” political agenda has given way to what The New York Times predictably labels “populist”–the Hindutva, anti-Muslim fascism which has long been the  mainstay of the RSS.   “Adityanath (pronounced Ah-DIT-ya-nath) was an astonishing choice by Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, who came into office three years ago promising to usher India into a new age of development and economic growth, and playing down any far-right Hindu agenda. But a populist drive to transform India into a ‘Hindu nation’ has drowned out Mr. Modi’s development agenda, shrinking the economic and social space for the country’s 170 million Muslims. . . .”
  4. The governor of Uttar Pradesh is also seen as the frontrunner to become Prime Minister. ” . . . . Few decisions in Indian politics matter more than the selection of the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, because the post is seen as a springboard for future prime ministers. At the age of 45, the diminutive, baby-faced Adityanath is receiving the kind of career-making attention that projects an Indian politician toward higher office. . . .”
  5. Adityanath is best known for encouraging vigilante death squads against Muslims. He also worshipped at the Gorakhnath Temple, whose head priest was arrested for encouraging Hindu militants to kill Gandhi only days before he was shot. ” . . . . He was so engrossed in the [RSS] group’s work that the first two or three times he was summoned by a distant relative, the head priest of the Gorakhnath Temple, he ‘could not find the time,‘ he has said. . . . But religion and politics were fast converging. Gorakhnath Temple had a tradition of militancy: Digvijay Nath, the head priest until 1969, was arrested for exhorting Hindu militants to kill Mahatma Gandhi days before he was shot. His successor, Mahant Avaidyanath, urged Hindu mobs in 1992 to tear down a 16th-century mosque and build a temple there, setting off some of the bloodiest religious riots in India’s recent history. . . .”

Modi is realizing the repressive fascist agenda of the BJP/RSS. Censoring the press and conducting widespread surveillance of critics are now routine. In addition, there have been a number of hitherto unsolved assassinations of journalists and politicians critical of Modi and his agenda.

Hindu Youth Brigade cadre. Close to Yogi Adinyanath. Note the motorbikes–a vehicle used in recent Indian political killings.

Prominent Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh was the latest victim:

” . . . . . Gauri Lankesh, one of India’s most outspoken journalists, was walking into her house on Tuesday night. It was around 8. The night was warm. She was alone. As she stepped through her gate, just feet from her front door, several gunshots rang out. She was killed instantly in what political opposition officials say appears to be yet another assassination of an intellectual who publicly criticized India’s governing party and the Hindu agenda it has pursued. In recent years, at least three other antiestablishment activists have been silenced by bullets. . . . On Monday, the day before she was killed, she shared a post on her Facebook page that was written by someone else. ‘The RSS is the terrorist organization,’ it read. . . . 

The same gun was used to kill both Gauri Lankesh and another prominent victim, M M Kalburgi: ” . . . . . A preliminary forensic analysis of bullets and cartridges found at the site of the September 5 shooting of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh and those recovered from the killing of Kannada research scholar M M Kalburgi two years ago has revealed that the same 7.65-mm countrymade pistol was used for the two killings. This finding has been communicated to the Special Investigation Team that is probing the murder of the 55-year-old journalist and activist, sources involved with the two separate investigations have told The Indian Express. . . . .”

There are numerous other similarities between the killings of Lankesh and Kalburgi. Note that the assassins rode motorbikes with helmets in both crimes, making it difficult to identify the shooter. Note the motorbikes present in the photo of Adinyath’s Hindu Youth Brigade, visible above.

The same weapon used to kill Gauri Lankesh and M M Kalburgi was also used to kill Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar! . . . . Scholar and rationalist Kalburgi was shot dead at his home at 8.40 am by two unidentified persons who drove up on a motorcycle. The assailants knocked on the door of the home of the 77-year-old Sahitya Akademi Award winner and shot him on the doorstep with two bullets from a 7.65 mm countrymade pistol. Lankesh was shot dead in the front yard of her home at 8 pm on September 5 by one of two persons who came on a motorcycle and fired four bullets from a 7.65 mm countrymade pistol while she was opening the gates to her home. Investigations in the Kalburgi murder case by the Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department had revealed that the 7.65 mm pistol used to kill the rationalist was the same one that was used to murder 81-year-old Maharashtra rationalist and Leftist thinker Govind Pansare in Kolhapur on February 16, 2015 by two unidentified men. The forensic analysis had also revealed that one of the two guns used to shoot down Pansare in 2015 had also been used to kill Maharashtra rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, 69, in Pune on August 20, 2013 by a pair of unidentified men. . . .”

The recent assassination of Indian journalist-turned-activist Gauri Lankesh highlights the role of the Dalit (formerly “untouchable”) caste in the electoral strategy of Modi’s BJP (again, a political front for the Hindutva fascist RSS.) ” . . . . Ms. Lankesh was also an effective political organizer with the ability to bring together social and political groups — Dalits, indigenous tribals, leftists, Muslims and others — opposed to the Hindu nationalist attempts to transform India into a country primarily for the Hindus. . . .”

An effective political organizer who appeared to have the ability to bridge a key divide between the Dalits and the rest of the non-Hindu nationalist segments of Indian society–Ms. Lankesh–gets gunned down. She was the latest activist who possessed that ability to bridge divides to be assassinated in exactly the same manner in recent years: The other three were Daabholkar, Kalburgi and Pansare, who were slain with the same weapon–a gun that was used to kill Lankesh as well. ” . . . . In August 2013, the activist Narendra Dabholkar, who campaigned against religious superstitions, was murdered. In August 2015, M. M. Kalburgi, a scholar and outspoken critic of idol worship among Hindus, was gunned down at his own doorstep. In February 2015, Govind Pansare, a Communist leader, community organizer and columnist, was killed in a small town near MumbaiMr. Dhabolkar, Mr. Kalburgi and Mr. Pansare were murdered by assassins on motorbikes, who hid their faces with helmets and fled after the murder. Exactly as Ms. Lankesh was killed. The murdered intellectuals also wrote in regional languages and worked as activists. Each of them shared the quality of being acceptable to the leftist groups and Dalit groups. They could bring together communities opposed to the Hindu right. . . . “

We note that the methodology of the RSS, the organization that killed Mahatma Gandhi, remains in place.

We also note that, if Modi wants to not only get reelected and also lead the BJP to a take over of parliament so he to fully implement his far-right agenda, he’s going to have to figure out how to get that Dalit vote: Ms. Lankesh and the other victims enumerated above stood in the way of that strategy: “ . . . . Caste, in short, remains perhaps the single most influential factor in Indian politics despite rapid modernization of the world’s largest democracy, as proven in the latest presidential contest. And Narendra Modi, who won a landslide victory by widening the party’s appeal beyond the orthodox Hindu class, is sure to milk it for all it’s worth. . . . Even though it has campaigned on preserving conservative Hindu traditions, including sanctity of upper-caste Brahmins, the BJP is dependent on the votes of Dalits and other lower castes to win crucial states. In the state of Bihar, the third most populous state, Modi and the BJP suffered a demoralizing defeat to the rival Rashtriya Janata Dal party in 2015 State Assembly elections. Bihar’s low-caste communities voted heavily in support of RJD and its leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was able to strike a fruitful electoral alliance between Bihar’s Muslims and the state’s marginalized, cow-herding Yadav caste . . . . In March, the right-wing Hindu party secured a major victory in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, winning over the state’s lower-caste votes. Modi steered clear of potentially divisive language in his speeches, and the party was reported to have inducted members of the lower caste in leadership positions. Not surprisingly, Modi and the BJP are continuing this trend with the latest nomination of Ram Nath Kovind for president. . . .”

In addition to political assassination and state repression, it appears that Modi’s success may well rest, in part, on the manipulation of electronic voting machines, something that will ring familiar to students of American electoral politics. ” . . . . Expressing shock and disbelief over the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati today accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of tampering with electronic voting machines (EVMs). ‘How come the BJP managed to win in Muslim bastions in the state. [The BJP and its political muse the RSS are violently anti-Muslim as a matter of doctrine.–D.E.] The poll results are very surprising’, Mayawati said. Alleging that there was massive rigging of voting machines in the state to favour the BJP, the BSP chief said, ‘Most votes in Muslim majority constituencies have gone to the BJP. This makes it clear that the voting machines were manipulated.’ . . . . ”

Tragically, the chaos enveloping India–the assassinations, censorship, corruption and continued grinding social and economic inequality–has fueled sentiment for a military government, presided over by a “strong leader.” “. . . . A majority of Indians, 53 percent, support military rule, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last week. . . .  At least 55 percent of Indians also back a governing system ‘in which a strong leader can make decisions without interference from parliament or the courts,’ the survey added, noting that support for autocratic rule is higher in India than in any other nation surveyed. . . .”

As Modi makes further moves to consolidate power, those moves may well have strong public backing. Especially with BJP voters: ” . . . . Supporters of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and urban dwellers ‘are significantly more likely’ to support military rule than backers of the opposition Congress party and rural residents, the Pew Research Center survey showed. . . .”

The program closes with juxtaposition of two grotesque actions by Narendra Modi–again the Prime Minister from the BJP, a political front for the Hindutva fascist RSS, the organization that murdered Gandhi. (See FTR #’s 988 and 989 for detailed analysis of the RSS and the killing of Gandhi.)

In a deliberate attempt to conflate his public relations image with that of Gandhi, Modi has posed with a spinning wheel, which Gandhi saw as both a vehicle for combating British colonial textile policy and as a tool for realizing Satyagraha and the personal insight and discipline required by it.

Gandhi practiced what he preached, going about attired in a loincloth of “homespun” fabric. Modi, in contrast, was photographed in an expensive, pin-striped suit when entertaining the Obamas on a state visit. (The pin-stripes were actually Narendra Modi’s name, in fine golden print.) Valued at around $16,000.00, the suit was eventually auctioned off for the sum of $695,000.00. Gandhi’s soul must be weeping to see what has been done to his legacy. ” . . . . India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is noted for making bold statements — both in policy and fashion. When Modi sported a suit with pinstripes that spelled out his name in tiny gold lettering, his critics called it the height of vanity. But the controversial suit raised more than eyebrows: It sold at auction today for nearly $695,000. The ‘selfie’ suit was debuted when Modi wore it to a bilateral meeting with President Obama during his visit to India last month. . . . .”

1. Narendra Modi just elevated Yogi Adityanath, a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) from Uttar Praddesh to govern that largest Indian province. ” . . . . Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, found his vocation in college as an activist in the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu organization. . . .”

The governor of Uttar Pradesh is also seen as the frontrunner to become Prime Minister. ” . . . . Few decisions in Indian politics matter more than the selection of the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, because the post is seen as a springboard for future prime ministers. At the age of 45, the diminutive, baby-faced Adityanath is receiving the kind of career-making attention that projects an Indian politician toward higher office. . . .”

Adityanath is best known for encouraging vigilante death squads against Muslims. He also worshipped at the Gorakhnath Temple, whose head priest was arrested for encourage Hindu militants to kill Gandhi only days before he was shot. ” . . . . He was so engrossed in the [RSS] group’s work that the first two or three times he was summoned by a distant relative, the head priest of the Gorakhnath Temple, he ‘could not find the time,‘ he has said. . . . But religion and politics were fast converging. Gorakhnath Temple had a tradition of militancy: Digvijay Nath, the head priest until 1969, was arrested for exhorting Hindu militants to kill Mahatma Gandhi days before he was shot. His successor, Mahant Avaidyanath, urged Hindu mobs in 1992 to tear down a 16th-century mosque and build a temple there, setting off some of the bloodiest religious riots in India’s recent history. . . .”

Hindu Youth Brigade cadre, formed by Yogi Adinyanath. Note the motorbikes–a vehicle used in recent Indian political killings.

“Firebrand Hindu Cleric Ascends India’s Political Ladder” by Ellen Barry and Suhasini Raj; The New York Times; 07/12/2017

A Hindu warrior-priest has been chosen to rule India’s most populous state, and the cable news channels cannot get enough of him. Yogi, as everyone calls him, is so ascetic and incorruptible that he doesn’t use air-conditioners, they say. Yogi sleeps on a hard mattress on the floor. Yogi sometimes eats only an apple for dinner.

But the taproot of Yogi Adityanath’s popularity is in a more ominous place. As leader of a temple known for its militant Hindu supremacist tradition, he built an army of youths intent on avenging historic wrongs by Muslims, whom he has called “a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped.” At one rally he cried out, “We are all preparing for religious war!”

Adityanath (pronounced Ah-DIT-ya-nath) was an astonishing choice by Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, who came into office three years ago promising to usher India into a new age of development and economic growth, and playing down any far-right Hindu agenda. But a populist drive to transform India into a “Hindu nation” has drowned out Mr. Modi’s development agenda, shrinking the economic and social space for the country’s 170 million Muslims.

Few decisions in Indian politics matter more than the selection of the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, because the post is seen as a springboard for future prime ministers. At the age of 45, the diminutive, baby-faced Adityanath is receiving the kind of career-making attention that projects an Indian politician toward higher office.

“He is automatically on anybody’s list as a potential contender to succeed Modi,” said Sadanand Dhume, an India specialist at the American Enterprise Institute. “They have normalized someone who, three years ago, was considered too extreme to be minister of state for textiles. Everything has been normalized so quickly.”

In March, when the Bharatiya Janata Party won a landslide electoral victory in Uttar Pradesh, political prognosticators expected Mr. Modi to make a safe choice — Manoj Sinha, a cabinet minister known for his diligence and loyalty to the party. On the morning of the announcement, an honor guard had been arranged outside his village.

But by midmorning, it was clear that something unusual was going on. A chartered flight had been sent to pick up Adityanath and take him to Delhi for a meeting with Amit Shah, the party president. At 6 p.m. the party announced it had appointed him as minister, sending a ripple of shock through India’s political class.

They were shocked because Adityanath is a radical, but also because he is ambitious, even rebellious. As recently as January, he walked out of the party’s executive meeting, reportedly because he was not allowed to speak. Mr. Modi is not known to have much tolerance for rivals.

The appointment “invests a certain amount of power in Yogi Adityanath that cannot be easily taken away,” said Ashutosh Varshney, a professor of political science and international studies at Brown University.

“Modi has been either unwilling to stop his rise, or unable to stop his rise,” he said.

As a young man, Adityanath’s passion was politics, not religion. One of seven children born to a forest ranger, Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, found his vocation in college as an activist in the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu organization.

He was so engrossed in the group’s work that the first two or three times he was summoned by a distant relative, the head priest of the Gorakhnath Temple, he “could not find the time,” he has said.

But religion and politics were fast converging. Gorakhnath Temple had a tradition of militancy: Digvijay Nath, the head priest until 1969, was arrested for exhorting Hindu militants to kill Mahatma Gandhi days before he was shot. His successor, Mahant Avaidyanath, urged Hindu mobs in 1992 to tear down a 16th-century mosque and build a temple there, setting off some of the bloodiest religious riots in India’s recent history.

Adityanath won a seat in Parliament, the first of five consecutive terms. Among his advantages was a new group he had formed: the Hindu Yuva Vahini, or Hindu Youth Brigade, a vigilante organization. The volunteers, now organized to the village level and said by leaders to number 250,000, show up in force where Muslims are rumored to be bothering Hindus.

Vijay Yadav, 21, a volunteer lounging at Gorakhnath Temple in Gorakhpur on a recent day, said he had recently mobilized 60 or 70 young men to beat a Muslim accused of cow slaughter. They stopped, he said, only because the police intervened.

“All the Hindus got together and the first slap was given by me,” he said proudly. “If they do something wrong, fear is what works best. If you do something wrong, we will stop you. If you talk too much, we will kill you. This is our saying for Muslims.”

During the first five years after the vigilante group was formed, 22 religious clashes broke out in the districts surrounding Gorakhpur, a city in Uttar Pradesh, in many cases with Adityanath’s encouragement, said Manoj Singh, a journalist. In 2007, Adityanath was arrested as he led a procession toward neighborhoods seething with religious tension.

Even then, Mr. Singh recalled, the officer who arrested Adityanath stopped first to touch his feet as a gesture of reverence.

Adityanath was released after 11 days, but the arrest seemed to jolt him. He became more cautious, no longer directly leading followers into religious confrontations, Mr. Singh said.

For India’s frenetic 24-hour cable television world, Adityanath’s first months as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh were a windfall. Arriving in Lucknow, a city weary of a corrupt bureaucracy, he projected a refreshing toughness and austerity. He warned officials that they would be expected to work 18 to 20 hours a day if they were to keep their jobs, and inspectors and bureaucrats were said to be too afraid to ask for bribes.

His first orders were unabashedly populist. The police were dispatched in “anti-Romeo squads” to detain youths suspected of harassing women. Inspectors shut down dozens of meat-processing plants, a major source of revenue for area Muslims, for regulatory problems.

Vishal Pratap Singh, a Lucknow-based television journalist, noted that Adityanath was a “totally changed man on camera,” careful to avoid comments offensive to Muslims.

Still, Mr. Singh said, his ratings are sky-high, and the reason is obvious.

“Like Modi, he speaks for the Hindus,” he said. “Within his heart, he is a totally anti-Muslim person. That is the reason he is so likable.”

Political observers in Delhi are watching him as one might watch an audition. Journalists filed reports of his first 100 days last week, and some were lukewarm, noting his failure to contain violent crime.

Neerja Chowdhury, an analyst, said Adityanath has two years to establish himself as an effective administrator.

“Remember, he is 20 years younger than Modi, and he is a known doer, so if he manages to deliver on some fronts, he would then become a possible candidate” in 2024, she said.

“India is moving right,” she added. “Whether India moves further right, and Modi begins to be looked upon as a moderate, I think that only time will tell.”

Adityanath may be interested in rebranding himself a mainstream politician, but his followers in the vigilante group do not all agree.

During the days after the election, some 5,000 men came forward to join the organization every day, prompting organizers to stop accepting applicants, said P. K. Mall, the group’s general secretary.

Sonu Yadav, 24, of Gorakhpur, who has served in the group for five years, said he had been disappointed by Mr. Modi’s tenure.

“We voted for Modi because Yogi endorsed him, but we are disillusioned,” he said. He went on to refer to the 2002 riots in the state Mr. Modi led, which his critics say he allowed to rage for several days, leading to more than 1,000 deaths.

“All of us in our colony felt that Modi would allow us to kill Muslims,” he said. “Muslims were scared. But nothing happened. When Yogi became chief minister, they were scared again.”

Mr. Modi has denied any wrongdoing, and Supreme Court panels have rejected petitions to prosecute Mr. Modi in the riots for lack of evidence.

For now, as Adityanath establishes a more mainstream reputation, Mr. Yadav and his friends have been told by their group’s leadership to cease all violent activities and instead perform community service. Vijay Yadav, Sonu’s friend, openly chafed at the new orders.

“This thing is going on in Yogi’s head that my shirt should not get a stain,” he said. “I couldn’t care less for his stained shirt. I can’t do good work and avoid getting a stain.”

He noted, by way of example, the recent beating death of a 62-year-old Muslim man whom vigilantes abducted and interrogated about a neighbor’s alleged love affair with a Hindu girl.

Vijay Yadav’s comment on the man’s death was a local proverb: “Along with the wheat,” he said, “small insects will get crushed.”

———-

2. In numerous programs (most recently FTR #’s 988 and 989) we have covered the Hindutva fascist RSS and its political cat’s paw the BJP. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is realizing the repressive fascist agenda of the BJP/RSS. Censoring the press and conducting widespread surveillance of critics are now routine. In addition, there have been a number of hitherto unsolved assassinations of journalists and politicians critical of Modi and his agenda.

“The Question More Indians Ask–‘Is My Phone Tapped?’” by Mira Kamdar; The New York Times; 10/27/2017; p. A22 [West Coast Edition]

A businessman told me he had stopped going online to buy books that the government might frown upon because he was afraid officials would track his purchases.

There’s good reason for such fears, another businessman said: “You go to a party where there are a dozen people you’ve known for years. Someone says something mildly critical of the government, and then you learn that person’s office was paid a visit the next day by the income-tax authorities.”

These were not reflections on life in some police state. These were conversations I had this month during a visit to India, a country I’ve been visiting for nearly 60 years.

It’s no secret that attacks on freedom of expression have accelerated since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014. Yet, nothing prepared me for the pervasive anxieties I encountered on this trip. While freedom of speech has never been an absolute right in India, I always thought that this raucous democracy would ultimately overcome any blanket effort to quash dissent, as it did when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency and clamped down on the news media in 1975.

But I was stunned when a well-known writer in New Delhi confided that she and others used encrypted communications. “We’re all on Proton-Mail and Signal at this point,” she said. Others said they only communicated on WhatsApp. “All our phones are tapped,” declared a news editor in Mumbai.

As the comments from businessman indicate, the fears I heard weren’t limited to journalists and writers disinclined to support Mr. Modi. People who had appreciated the pro-business elements of his candidacy, and who still have hope for his economic policies expressed similar concern.

Journalists, though, have particular reason for fear. In June, the Central Bureau of Investigation raided residences and offices connected to the founders of N.D.T.V., an influential cable TV station and online news outlet that has had run-ins with Mr. Modi’s government. The Editors Guild of India and leading media figures condemned the raid. But a magazine editor confided, “Of course we are afraid; they could go after anyone in our family, at any time.”

Even more disturbing have been a series of unsolved murders of journalists, and punitive legal actions against the news media.

The online news outlet The Wire was slapped with a criminal defamation suit after it published a story this month alleging that Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah, the powerful head of Mr. Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party, has profited handsomely under Mr. Modi’s government. Then, last week, a court in Gujarat—where Mr. Modi was formerly chief minister—barred the news outlet from publishing any stories “directly or indirectly” about Jay Shah until the suit was resolved. Defiant, The Wire posted a photo of the order, vowing “It goes without saying that this attempt to gag The Wire will not go unchallenged.”

On Monday, the B.J.P.-led government in Rajasthan State introduced an ordinance in the state’s Legislative Assembly that would essentially bar reporting of government malfeasance by requiring government permission to investigate “both serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants for on-duty actions.” It would also make it illegal to “print or publish or publicize in any manner the name, address, photograph, family details or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of a judge or magistrate or a public servant against whom” an investigation is pending.

Not all the Indians I spoke with were so uneasy. Many citizens remain outspoken. Courageous journalists continue to fight to do their job. But the growing fear of Indians to speak, to write and even to read freely poses a grave threat to one of the world’s great democracies.

3a. Symptomatic of the political and journalistic landscape of Modi’s India is the–as yet–unsolved murder of Gauri Lankesh, a courageous journalist and unsparing critic of Modi and the RSS. ” . . . . She was killed instantly in what political opposition officials say appears to be yet another assassination of an intellectual who publicly criticized India’s governing party and the Hindu agenda it has pursued. In recent years, at least three other anti-establishment activists have been silenced by bullets. . . . ‘Anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked & even killed,’ Rahul Gandhi, an opposition leader, said in a Twitter message. . . . ‘They want to impose only one ideology which is against the nature of India.’ . . . The three other activists killed in a somewhat similar manner in the past four years had also opposed the rise of hard-line Hinduism. . . . On Monday, the day before she was killed, she shared a post on her Facebook page that was written by someone else. ‘The RSS is the terrorist organization,’ it read. . . .

“In India, Another Government Critic Is Silenced by Bullets” by Jeffrey Gettleman and Hari Kumar; The New York Times; 9/6/2017.

Gauri Lankesh, one of India’s most outspoken journalists, was walking into her house on Tuesday night. It was around 8. The night was warm. She was alone. As she stepped through her gate, just feet from her front door, several gunshots rang out.

She was killed instantly in what political opposition officials say appears to be yet another assassination of an intellectual who publicly criticized India’s governing party and the Hindu agenda it has pursued. In recent years, at least three other antiestablishment activists have been silenced by bullets.

Ms. Lankesh’s death, which monopolized television news coverage on Wednesday, set off protests across India, a country increasingly polarized by supporters of the Hindu nationalist governing party and its detractors. Some of Mrs. Lankesh’s friends say they have no idea who killed her. But among government opponents, the circumstances of the shooting fueled suspicions that governing party backers, emboldened by their leaders to wipe out their enemies, were behind it.

“Anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked & even killed,’’ Rahul Gandhi, an opposition leader, said in a Twitter message. (R.S.S. is a Hindu organization that is closely connected to India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party.) “They want to impose only one ideology which is against the nature of India.” . . .

. . . . The three other activists killed in a somewhat similar manner in the past four years had also opposed the rise of hard-line Hinduism. . . .

. . . . Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party had been annoyed with Ms. Lankesh for years and sued her for defamation. The first court to hear the case convicted her and sentenced her to six months in prison last year, but she was granted bail while the case was on appeal. S. N. Sinha, president of India’s 28,000-member journalist union and a member of a news oversight council, said the council had gotten many complaints about Ms. Lankesh.

“She used to write very strongly,” Mr. Sinha said. “We warned her she has to be a little careful in her writing. It wasn’t the content; it was her language.” On Monday, the day before she was killed, she shared a post on her Facebook page that was written by someone else. “The RSS is the terrorist organization,” it read. . . .

3b. The same gun was used to kill both Gauri Lankesh and another prominent victim, M M Kalburgi: ” . . . . . A preliminary forensic analysis of bullets and cartridges found at the site of the September 5 shooting of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh and those recovered from the killing of Kannada research scholar M M Kalburgi two years ago has revealed that the same 7.65-mm countrymade pistol was used for the two killings. This finding has been communicated to the Special Investigation Team that is probing the murder of the 55-year-old journalist and activist, sources involved with the two separate investigations have told The Indian Express. . . . .”

“Gun Used to Kill Gauri Lankesh Is the Same One that Killed M M Kalburgi: Forensics” by Johnson T A; Indian Express; 9/14/2017.

A preliminary forensic analysis of bullets and cartridges found at the site of the September 5 shooting of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh and those recovered from the killing of Kannada research scholar M M Kalburgi two years ago has revealed that the same 7.65-mm countrymade pistol was used for the two killings.

This finding has been communicated to the Special Investigation Team that is probing the murder of the 55-year-old journalist and activist, sources involved with the two separate investigations have told The Indian Express.

On September 12, The Indian Express had reported that investigations had found clues that suggested a link between the two murders.

Lankesh was shot dead at her residence in west Bengaluru by an unidentified assailant with a 7.65-mm countrymade pistol around 8 pm while she was opening the gates to her home to park her car after returning from work. Kalburgi was killed at his home in the north Karnataka town of Dharwad at around 8.40 am on August 30, 2015 by an unidentified gunman who rang his doorbell.

Police recovered the three bullets that pierced Lankesh’s heart and lungs before exiting her body and a bullet that missed her along with the four empty cartridges. While the four cartridges were found at the murder site shortly after the killing, the fatal bullets were found by a search of the crime scene with metal detectors.

Investigators decided to compare the “ballistic signature” on the bullets and cartridges in the Lankesh case with that of bullets and cartridges in the Kalburgi case. The analysis has reported a match suggesting that one common gun was used in the two killings, sources said. This also suggests that one common outfit or group is behind the two killings, an official said.

Guns are believed to leave unique markings on cartridges and bullets — when the cartridge is struck by the firing pin and the bullet travels through the barrel — on the lines of fingerprints although there are sceptics who caution against using this matching test for crude countrymade weapons.

The forensic finding from the comparison of the ballistic evidence from the Lankesh and Kalburgi cases when juxtaposed with the forensic analysis of the shooting down of Maharashtra rationalist Govind Pansare, 81, on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur, suggests that the same gun has been used in three different killings over the last 30 months.

Following the murder of Kalburgi and Pansare in 2015, the Karnataka CID had attempted to analyse the evidence in the two cases by comparing striations on the bullets and cartridges used in the two murders and had found a match.

Govind Pansare and his wife Uma Pansare were shot with five bullets from two 7.65-mm countrymade guns. Uma Pansare survived the shooting. The forensic analysis in the Pansare and Kalburgi case revealed that one of the two guns used in the Pansare case in Maharashtra was the same gun used to shoot down Kalburgi in Karnataka.

A further comparison of the ballistic evidence found in the Pansare case with that of evidence in the shooting of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, 69, on August 20, 2013 in Pune revealed that the second gun used to shoot Pansare was the same gun that was used to kill Dabholkar.

In the 2013 killing of Dabholkar, the motorcycle borne assailant fired four bullets.

Though the investigation of the Kalburgi killing in Karnataka by the CID has not resulted in any headway in finding the killers, the CID has been co-ordinating with the CBI which is probing the Dabholkar murder and a Maharashtra SIT probing the Pansare murder.

The investigations in the Dabholkar and Pansare cases by the CBI and the Maharashtra SIT suggested the involvement of the radical right-wing outfit, Sanatan Sanstha, in the two killings.

On January 20 this year, the Bombay High Court noted that CBI had not been provided a report by the Scotland Yard forensic lab on the findings made by the Karnataka lab in the murders of the rationalists but had accepted a report of the Gujarat FSL and allowed it to be used as evidence by the CBI in the Dabholkar murder case.

“The Scotland Yard Police have informed the CBI in writing that unless and until a Mutual Agreement is arrived at, and in the absence of the clearance from the UK Home Department, it would not be possible to examine the materials and render any definite and conclusive opinion,’’ the court noted. “At this stage, we must also note the fact that the report, now being available for the CBI (the report of the Director of Forensic Sciences, Gujarat), is likely to be placed on the record of the criminal case, and particularly, the Sessions case arising out of the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar.’’

Although activists of the Sanatan Sanstha have emerged as the primary suspects in the case, the Karnataka SIT is also pursuing investigations on other lines and on Wednesday questioned family members of Lankesh and some associates whom she had helped move out of the Naxal movement into the mainstream.

On the basis of directions issued by the Bombay High Court on January 7, 2016, the Karnataka police shared information from its forensic findings in the Kalburgi case with the CBI and the Maharashtra SIT.

A co-ordination meeting was held by officers of the CBI, the SIT, Maharashtra and the CID, Karnataka on February 17, 2016, to discuss the investigation of the three seemingly linked murder cases. The CBI suggested verification of the ballistic findings of the Karnataka forensic lab through the Directorate of Forensic Services, at Scotland Yard, London.

Sources said Scotland Yard confirmed the forensic findings in the Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi cases but did not issue a report for lack of an agreement. The CBI then approached the Gujarat Forensic Science Lab to verify the findings of the Karnataka lab. The Gujarat FSL confirmed the ballistic findings linking the three cases, according to sources.

3c. There are numerous other similarities between the killings of Lankesh and Kalburgi. Note that the assassins rode motorbikes with helmets in both crimes, making it difficult to identify the shooter. Note the motorbikes present in the photo of Adinyath’s Hindu Youth Brigade, visible above.

The same weapon used to kill Gauri Lankesh and M M Kalburgi was also used to kill Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar! . . . . Scholar and rationalist Kalburgi was shot dead at his home at 8.40 am by two unidentified persons who drove up on a motorcycle. The assailants knocked on the door of the home of the 77-year-old Sahitya Akademi Award winner and shot him on the doorstep with two bullets from a 7.65 mm countrymade pistol. Lankesh was shot dead in the front yard of her home at 8 pm on September 5 by one of two persons who came on a motorcycle and fired four bullets from a 7.65 mm countrymade pistol while she was opening the gates to her home. Investigations in the Kalburgi murder case by the Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department had revealed that the 7.65 mm pistol used to kill the rationalist was the same one that was used to murder 81-year-old Maharashtra rationalist and Leftist thinker Govind Pansare in Kolhapur on February 16, 2015 by two unidentified men. The forensic analysis had also revealed that one of the two guns used to shoot down Pansare in 2015 had also been used to kill Maharashtra rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, 69, in Pune on August 20, 2013 by a pair of unidentified men. . . .”

“Probe Finds Clues That Point to Link Between Gauri Lankesh, M M Kalburgi Killing” by Johnson T A; Indian Express; 9/12/2017.

Investigations have revealed that the “mechanics of the crime’’ in the September 5 killing of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, 55, by an unidentified gunman is identical to that of the August 30, 2015 murder of Kannada literary scholar M M Kalburgi in Dharwad in north Karnataka.

More than one official familiar with the probe into Lankesh’s killing said that although the investigation remained open in terms of tracking down the killers — and formal forensics and ballistics reports are awaited — there has been a “significant finding” that suggests a link between the killings of Kalburgi and Lankesh.

While an official declined to give details, he said that this finding goes beyond just the speculation so far that both the deaths involved a similar type of weapon.

In fact, Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy had said on Saturday that the SIT set up to probe the murder had obtained important clues. Senior police sources have, over the last couple of days, said that they are “very sure” that the killings in Karnataka are linked to each other along with two murders in Maharashtra.

Scholar and rationalist Kalburgi was shot dead at his home at 8.40 am by two unidentified persons who drove up on a motorcycle. The assailants knocked on the door of the home of the 77-year-old Sahitya Akademi Award winner and shot him on the doorstep with two bullets from a 7.65 mm countrymade pistol.

Lankesh was shot dead in the front yard of her home at 8 pm on September 5 by one of two persons who came on a motorcycle and fired four bullets from a 7.65 mm countrymade pistol while she was opening the gates to her home.

Investigations in the Kalburgi murder case by the Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department had revealed that the 7.65 mm pistol used to kill the rationalist was the same one that was used to murder 81-year-old Maharashtra rationalist and Leftist thinker Govind Pansare in Kolhapur on February 16, 2015 by two unidentified men.

The forensic analysis had also revealed that one of the two guns used to shoot down Pansare in 2015 had also been used to kill Maharashtra rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, 69, in Pune on August 20, 2013 by a pair of unidentified men.

One part of the investigation in the murder of Gauri Lankesh over the past week has focused on the crime scene evidence and the mechanics of the crime like the bullets and gun used. Investigations by the CBI into the Dabholkar case and a Maharashtra SIT probe into the murder of Pansare found links to a radical right wing outfit called the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), affiliated to the Sanatan Sanstha, but the actual shooters have remained at large.

The findings from the Kalburgi and the two Maharashtra cases suggested that the killers were in possession of two guns they used to carry out the assassinations.

“The key difference between the murder of Gauri Lankesh and the other killings is the fact that she was killed at night while the other murders occurred in the morning. This could be because Gauri Lankesh did not venture out in the morning but returned late evening,’’ sources said.

The SIT is pursuing multiple angles to zero in on the perpetrators. Activists of the HJS and Sanatan Sanstha based in Karnataka are among those under the scanner along with a local unit of the outfit. “The weapon used to commit the crime has been a key focus of the investigation and efforts are on to find out how and where it was procured,’’ an official said.

The investigation is also looking at whether the killing involved hired killers or members of a group. Cell records, CCTV footage, history of stories published in the Gauri Lankesh Patrike, data from hotels and lodges in Bengaluru in the period preceding the murder and information from prisons about recently released convicts are all being probed, sources said.

4.  The following piece about the recent assassination of Indian journalist-turned-activist Gauri Lankesh suggests, highlights the role of the Dalit (formerly “untouchable”) caste in the electoral strategy of Modi’s BJP (again, a political front for the Hindutva fascist RSS.) ” . . . . Ms. Lankesh was also an effective political organizer with the ability to bring together social and political groups — Dalits, indigenous tribals, leftists, Muslims and others — opposed to the Hindu nationalist attempts to transform India into a country primarily for the Hindus. . . .”

An effective political organizer who appeared to have the ability to bridge a key divide between the Dalits and the rest of the non-Hindu nationalist segments of Indian society gets gunned down. She was just latest activist who possessed that ability to bridge divides to be assassinated in exactly the same manner in recent years: The other three were Daabholkar, Kalburgi and Pansare, who were slain with the same weapon–a gun that was used to kill Lankesh as well. ” . . . . In August 2013, the activist Narendra Dabholkar, who campaigned against religious superstitions, was murdered. In August 2015, M. M. Kalburgi, a scholar and outspoken critic of idol worship among Hindus, was gunned down at his own doorstep. In February 2015, Govind Pansare, a Communist leader, community organizer and columnist, was killed in a small town near MumbaiMr. Dhabolkar, Mr. Kalburgi and Mr. Pansare were murdered by assassins on motorbikes, who hid their faces with helmets and fled after the murder. Exactly as Ms. Lankesh was killed. The murdered intellectuals also wrote in regional languages and worked as activists. Each of them shared the quality of being acceptable to the leftist groups and Dalit groups. They could bring together communities opposed to the Hindu right. . . . “

We note that the methodology of the RSS, the organization that killed Mahatma Gandhi, remains in place.

“Why Was Gauri Lankesh Killed?” by Sudipto Mondal; The New York Times;
9/13/ 2017

On the evening of Sept. 5, I got a call from my wife, a fellow journalist. “Gauri Lankesh has been shot outside her house,” she said. “She is dead.” Ms. Lankesh, 55, was the editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a weekly newspaper, which she published from Bangalore, India, in the southern state of Karnataka.

I drove with two journalist friends to the morgue of a hospital where her body was. At 8 p.m., she had been entering her home in the upper-class area of Bangalore when an assassin on a motorbike fired at her and fled. Three bullets hit her, damaging her heart and lungs, according to the post-mortem report.

I had known her for 10 years. All I ever did was argue with her. Our arguments had acquired an increasing intensity in the three years since Narendra Modi came to power and India turned toward majoritarianism and intolerance. An outspoken critic of Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, she said in her last editorial that spreading fake news had contributed to the success of Mr. Modi and his party.

After Rohith Vemula, a Dalit graduate student and activist at a university in the southern city of Hyderabad, killed himself in January 2016 because of intense, unceasing institutionalized caste discrimination, a coalition of Dalit (lowest caste) and leftist student groups sought the prosecution of university officials and the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party politicians, who had pushed him to the brink. The leftist groups dominated by upper-caste Hindus were not willing to work under the leadership of Dalit activists.

I was agitatedly talking to Ms. Lankesh about how the Indian left was almost entirely led by upper-caste Hindus. Ten years of reporting on caste prejudice and politics and my personal history of growing up and working as a Dalit writer made me believe that even in struggles for civil and political rights, the Indian left excluded the Dalits from positions of leadership. Ms. Lankesh didn’t see leadership as a big question when in the context of the more pressing need to fight the rise of Hindu nationalism, which she described as “fascism.”

Ms. Lankesh was also an effective political organizer with the ability to bring together social and political groups — Dalits, indigenous tribals, leftists, Muslims and others — opposed to the Hindu nationalist attempts to transform India into a country primarily for the Hindus.

The priests at a temple in Udupi, a southern Indian town — a stronghold of the Hindu nationalist movement — were segregating the lower castes, especially Dalit devotees, from the upper-caste Hindus. Last September, Ms. Lankesh helped persuade numerous progressive, Dalit and leftist groups, and nongovernmental organizations — who loathe working together because of political differences — to come together in a march to protest segregation at the Udupi temple. The question of whether Dalits will get to lead the struggle for their rights returned. Ms. Lankesh negotiated with every group to ensure that the upper-caste leaders didn’t appropriate the march.

A month earlier, in July 2016, hard-line Hindu activists had stripped and flogged four Dalit men in Gujarat, the home state of Mr. Modi, for skinning a cow. Thousands of Dalits earn their meager livelihood from skinning dead cows and buffaloes and selling their hides to leather traders. Jignesh Mevani, a young Dalit lawyer, organized and led huge protests in Gujarat against the cow vigilantes.

Ms. Lankesh settled the question of leadership by getting everybody to agree that Mr. Mevani should lead the march against segregation to Udupi temple. Around 10,000 people joined the march. The opposition unity made an impression.

Soon after that I saw my social media timelines filled with photographs of Ms. Lankesh hugging Mr. Mevani and Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid andShehla Rashid, leftist student leaders from a university in New Delhi. She called them “her children.” It was her way of creating unity among various groups opposed to the rise of the majoritarian politics.

On the night of her murder, I stood outside her house with our common friends and we wondered why anyone would kill her. She wasn’t the only outspoken critic of the Hindu right. Her newspaper, which was critical of Mr. Modi’s government and the Hindu nationalists, didn’t sell more than a few thousand copies although it was much respected.

I wondered if they killed her because she was a member of the Lingayat community in Karnataka, which wants to separate from Brahmanical Hinduism. In the past few months, the Lingayat leaders had mobilized hundreds of thousands of supporters in public rallies. The mobilization threatens the chances of the Hindu nationalist B.J.P. in the forthcoming state elections in Karnataka. Although Ms. Lankesh supported the call, the Lingayat movement had other, enormously powerful leaders.

In August 2013, the activist Narendra Dabholkar, who campaigned against religious superstitions, was murdered. In August 2015, M. M. Kalburgi, a scholar and outspoken critic of idol worship among Hindus, was gunned down at his own doorstep. In February 2015, Govind Pansare, a Communist leader, community organizer and columnist, was killed in a small town near Mumbai.

Mr. Dhabolkar, Mr. Kalburgi and Mr. Pansare were murdered by assassins on motorbikes, who hid their faces with helmets and fled after the murder. Exactly as Ms. Lankesh was killed.

The murdered intellectuals also wrote in regional languages and worked as activists. Each of them shared the quality of being acceptable to the leftist groups and Dalit groups. They could bring together communities opposed to the Hindu right.

We don’t know yet who killed Ms. Lankesh, but various supporters of Mr. Modi, the B.J.P. and its parent organization, the Hindu nationalist mother ship, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, celebrated her murder on social media.

5. As Narendra Modi, the BJP, and Modi’s fascist RSS allies continue to consolidate their grip on power, the BJP electoral agenda is going to require the BJP to appeal to the very poor. The very poor in this case, are the “untouchables,” the Dalits, who understandably aren’t traditionally in the BJP target audience. And as the following article notes, if Modi wants to not only get reelected, but also lead the BJP to a take over of parliament so he to fully implement his far-right agenda, he’s going to have to figure out how to get that Dalit vote:

Caste, in short, remains perhaps the single most influential factor in Indian politics despite rapid modernization of the world’s largest democracy, as proven in the latest presidential contest. And Narendra Modi, who won a landslide victory by widening the party’s appeal beyond the orthodox Hindu class, is sure to milk it for all it’s worth. . . . Even though it has campaigned on preserving conservative Hindu traditions, including sanctity of upper-caste Brahmins, the BJP is dependent on the votes of Dalits and other lower castes to win crucial states. In the state of Bihar, the third most populous state, Modi and the BJP suffered a demoralizing defeat to the rival Rashtriya Janata Dal party in 2015 State Assembly elections. Bihar’s low-caste communities voted heavily in support of RJD and its leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was able to strike a fruitful electoral alliance between Bihar’s Muslims and the state’s marginalized, cow-herding Yadav caste . . . . In March, the right-wing Hindu party secured a major victory in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, winning over the state’s lower-caste votes. Modi steered clear of potentially divisive language in his speeches, and the party was reported to have inducted members of the lower caste in leadership positions. Not surprisingly, Modi and the BJP are continuing this trend with the latest nomination of Ram Nath Kovind for president. . . .”

It will be interesting to see if the BJP can continue making inroads into the Dalit electorate. Although one should not automatically conflate the Indian caste-burdened society with the U.S., we note that Trump, the GOP, the so-called “Alt-Right” in the U.S. and corresponding elements elsewhere have successfully targeted “have-nots” with various forms of propaganda, from outright lying to xenophobia to ethnic scapegoating.

“India’s Presidential Election Proves the Value of Exploiting Caste Politics” by Meeran Karim; Slate; 07/18/2017

Ram Nath Kovind, a member of India’s lower-caste Dalit community, is likely to become the country’s next president after the results of parliamentary polls are announced Thursday. Kovind’s candidacy as part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is widely perceived to be part of a strategy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist cohort to consolidate the party’s support among the country’s lower-caste voters.

Even though it has campaigned on preserving conservative Hindu traditions, including sanctity of upper-caste Brahmins, the BJP is dependent on the votes of Dalits and other lower castes to win crucial states. In the state of Bihar, the third most populous state, Modi and the BJP suffered a demoralizing defeat to the rival Rashtriya Janata Dal party in 2015 State Assembly elections. Bihar’s low-caste communities voted heavily in support of RJD and its leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, who was able to strike a fruitful electoral alliance between Bihar’s Muslims and the state’s marginalized, cow-herding Yadav caste.

Dalits, according to Hindu tradition, are believed to lie outside the four castes that determine the lives of Hindus, including their occupations and statuses in society. For much of the country’s history, they have been considered “impure,” suffering decades of exclusion and poverty that affirmative action programs in India have attempted to redress.

Learning from past mistakes, the BJP under Modi has softened its stance on caste issues. In March, the right-wing Hindu party secured a major victory in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, winning over the state’s lower-caste votes. Modi steered clear of potentially divisive language in his speeches, and the party was reported to have inducted members of the lower caste in leadership positions. Not surprisingly, Modi and the BJP are continuing this trend with the latest nomination of Ram Nath Kovind for president.

This thinly veiled attempt to secure Dalit support for future elections hasn’t slipped the attention of Indians. Indian academic Harish Wankhede remarked on the shrewdness of BJP and Modi for the Wire last month:

While the BJP has been trying to get the support of Dalits, many among the Dalits believed that the top posts after it wins would go to the party’s upper caste cadre. Yogi Adityanath, Devendra Fadnavis or Manohar Khattar all came from the Sangh or Hindutva fold and were upper caste saffron leaders. They mostly resorted to political tokenism when it came to rewarding Dalits. Kovind’s candidature is a big step forward.

And while the impact of Kovind’s nomination on lower castes is still unclear, Modi’s government still faces roadblocks in these communities. The BJP’s support of cow protection measures and Hindu nationalist campaigns to ban the consumption of cow meat has been indirectly linked to a recent spate of mob lynchings. In the Indian state of Gujarat, a mob of vigilantes was filmed flogging seven men belonging to the Dalit caste after being accused of skinning a dead cow. This led to a a wave of protests across India condemning BJP and Modi’s silence over the violence. Bans of meat instituted by BJP-led state governments have also hit India’s low castes the hardest, as thousands are employed in unskilled jobs in the meat and leather goods industries.

Kovind’s rival for president also hails from India’s Dalit community, further emphasizing the importance of caste in Indian politics right now. Meira Kumar, a longtime member of the Indian Parliament, is the nominee of the Indian National Congress–backed United Progressive Alliance. Although its leaders have exploited caste concerns to win votes, the Congress—in an interesting case of the pot calling the kettle black—has routinely blamed rivaling BJP and Modi for dividing the country along caste and religious lines. “The BJP mislead people and try trapping them,” Congress leader Sonia Gandhi said at 2014 rally. “They are doing caste-based politics. They want to divide people. They have a cheap mentality, and their ideology tries to harm the diversity of this nation.”

Caste, in short, remains perhaps the single most influential factor in Indian politics despite rapid modernization of the world’s largest democracy, as proven in the latest presidential contest. And Narendra Modi, who won a landslide victory by widening the party’s appeal beyond the orthodox Hindu class, is sure to milk it for all it’s worth.

 6. Modi’s surprising victory in the March Uttar Pradesh Assembly election may have had more to do withy vote tampering (with the electronic voting machines) than his support for (and by) the Dalits.

The success of the BJP was quite suspicious, in that the party carried the vote in largely Muslim districts–the RSS specifically targets and scapegoats Muslims.

We note, in this regard, that Modi was enthusiastically welcomed by the Silicon Valley elite, with whom his leo-liberal trade policies resonated. One wonders if they proved to be of assistance in the election?

“UP Election Results: BJP Tampered with EVMs, Couldn’t Have Won Otherwise in Muslim Bastions, Says Mayawati” by Ankit Misra; India Today; 3/11/2017.

Expressing shock and disbelief over the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati today accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of tampering with electronic voting machines (EVMs).

“How come the BJP managed to win in Muslim bastions in the state. The poll results are very surprising”, Mayawati said.

Alleging that there was massive rigging of voting machines in the state to favour the BJP, the BSP chief said, “Most votes in Muslim majority constituencies have gone to the BJP. This makes it clear that the voting machines were manipulated.”

Is is that the EVMs did not accept the votes cast for other parties, Mayawati wondered. “Muslims constitute 20 per cent votes in the state and the BJP did not give a single ticket to Muslims. But in Muslim-dominated seats also, the results went in the BJP’s favour and this is unpalatable to the BSP,” Mayawati said.

BSP COMPLAINS TO POLL PANEL

In a letter to the Election Commission, the BSP said that it had been informed by several people that there had been grave manipulation in voting machines by software and technology experts hired by the BJP.  Mayawati claimed that a similar complaint was made by her partymen in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but she had preferred to stay silent, thinking it was Modi wave and anti-Congress sentiment.

“They were nowhere close to winning at the ground level during elections. The BJP could not have got so many votes without tampering with EVMs”, a statement released by the BSP said.

Mayawati appealed to the Election Commission to stop counting votes, withhold results and hold fresh polls using traditional paper ballots.

The BSP supremo dared PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to ask the poll panel to hold fresh elections in the state “if they have an iota of morality and honesty left in them”.

Issuing an open warning to the BJP, Mayawati said they need not be happy that they got a majority as they have “killed democracy and this is betrayal of democracy”.

7. Ominous political news out of India: according to a new poll out of Indian voters, a majority of Indians support now military rule and even more support a central authority who can operated without checks and balances:

A majority of Indians, 53 percent, support military rule, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last week. . . .”

 Note that a majority of polled Indians were backing an autocratic system in general, with a single individual with unchecked powers: ” . 
. . . . At least 55 percent of Indians also back a governing system ‘in which a strong leader can make decisions without interference from parliament or the courts,’ the survey added, noting that support for autocratic rule is higher in India than in any other nation surveyed. . . .”

So as Modi makes further moves to consolidate power, those moves may well have strong public backing. Especially with BJP voters: ” . . . . Supporters of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and urban dwellers ‘are significantly more likely’ to support military rule than backers of the opposition Congress party and rural residents, the Pew Research Center survey showed. . . .”

One of the factors that appears to drive this growing embrace of authoritarianism is dissatisfaction with the outcomes of democratic governance—-a feeling like a strong-man is needed to ‘get things done’: ” . . . . . Given India’s high levels of corruption, there’s a perception that recent tough measures such as demonetization have made sense, so the public now wants a stronger hand on hot-button issues such as economic inequality as well as law and order, explained Tony Nash, founder and CEO of data analytics firm Complete Intelligence. The survey’s results weren’t surprising, Nash said. ‘Now that we’re deeper into the nationalistic wave that started with leaders such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, people are seeing that centralized decisions make progress so they’re not opposed to something more dramatic.’ . . .”

So the worse India’s governance gets, the more Indians just want a dictator to ‘fix’ things. Gee, what lessons are the oligarchs backing the BJP take from polls like this?!

“Most citizens support military rule in the world’s largest democracy” by Nyshka Chandran; CNBC; 11/19/2017

* A majority of Indians support military rule, according to a new Pew Research Center survey
* Citizens want a stronger hand on the country’s long-standing problems of corruption and economic inequality, experts explained

India, the world’s largest democracy, is showing an appetite for military rule — a potential indicator that the country’s nationalist politics are evolving.

A majority of Indians, 53 percent, support military rule, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last week. India is one of only four countries that has a majority in favor of a military government, the American think tank said. Vietnam, Indonesia, and South Africa are the other three.

At least 55 percent of Indians also back a governing system “in which a strong leader can make decisions without interference from parliament or the courts,” the survey added, noting that support for autocratic rule is higher in India than in any other nation surveyed.

Since its first election in 1952 following the end of British colonial rule, the South Asian nation has become a multiparty government with a parliamentary system and a commitment to free elections. But like many democracies around the world, its citizens are increasingly leaning toward a leader with authoritarian tendencies.

From President Donald Trump to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the revival of the strongman leader has been a defining trend of global politics in recent years. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who remains immensely popular at home, is no different with his hard-line stance on corruption and security.

Supporters of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and urban dwellers “are significantly more likely” to support military rule than backers of the opposition Congress party and rural residents, the Pew Research Center survey showed.

Given India’s high levels of corruption, there’s a perception that recent tough measures such as demonetization have made sense, so the public now wants a stronger hand on hot-button issues such as economic inequality as well as law and order, explained Tony Nash, founder and CEO of data analytics firm Complete Intelligence.

The survey’s results weren’t surprising, Nash said. “Now that we’re deeper into the nationalistic wave that started with leaders such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, people are seeing that centralized decisions make progress so they’re not opposed to something more dramatic.”

Modi’s critics often accuse his government of autocratic rule. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is the founder of the All India Trinamool Congress political party, alleged last month that the BJP was hurting media freedom by harassing news agencies critical of New Delhi. Another common complaint directed at the BJP is its use of central agencies to interfere in provincial governments.

8a. In a grotesque public relations gambit, Modi has posed at a spinning wheel. Gandhi, murdered by the RSS (again, the foundation of the Modi’s BJP), motivated his followers to spin their own clothing, in a successful boycott of British textiles. (This was part of Gandhi’s anti-colonial strategy.

“A Bizarre Spin on the Spinning Wheel” by Manash Firaq Battachargee; The Wire; 1/13/2017.

The prime minister featuring prominently in the traditional spinning pose of Mahatma Gandhi in the 2017 wall calendar and table diary published by the Khadi Village Industries Commission is the post-truth event of the year. The image is bewildering not because of any sentimental reasons, but for historical, political and ethical reasons associated with Gandhi and the spinning wheel. It is necessary to carve out those reasons sharply in an era where political, cultural and economic institutions are bent upon inventing meanings that ring hollow and lend themselves to dangerous misappropriation.

“There is an art that kills and an art that gives life,” wrote Gandhi in Young India on August 11, 1921. He was speaking in favour of spinning the wheel and producing khadi. It was not just the idea of self-sufficiency that Gandhi associated with the spinning wheel, and nor did others who associated the historic act with Gandhi merely read it as a symbol of self-sufficiency. The symbol of the spinning wheel meant other significant things: of attending to a work that appeared boring without any sense of boredom, of labouring for a pleasure without privilege, of simply doing one’s work that consists of a single motion, of doing a work as monotonous and singular as spinning. Spinning does not only mean an activity but also denotes a space, where the task of rotating a simple machine and weaving cloth out of it takes place. Threads are the fruit of labour and the source of joy. One never produces enough thread in a day even after hours of spinning. There is a non-capitalist imbalance in the equation between doing and producing, as much as between time and production. Gandhi was not merely producing cloth to sustain a home-grown industry and the idea of self-sufficiency, but producing a specific relation between time and work in the process.

The idea of giving “life” by spinning cloth meant a self- regenerative process for Gandhi, where a certain meaning of self-fashioning was taking place. On March 28, 1945, Gandhi wrote in Sevagram,

“Do spin and spin after due deliberation… ‘Due deliberation’ means realization that charkha or act of spinning is the symbol of non-violence. Ponder; it will be self-evident.”

We can see the connections emerging from this statement. The act of spinning was an act of deliberation, an act of the will. It was a will to be non-violent. If spinning was an activity of deliberation, it was the opposite of the idea of provocation. Gandhi spun in the face of provocations during the anti-colonial movement not simply as a political message to his opponents and to power, but to create a space where the self-at-work can be sovereign within that activity. Spinning created a space for negotiating with power. Gandhi realised the only way to challenge modern (colonial) power is by creating a place where the self can announce its own sovereignty, its own will and a strength to produce for itself. Gandhi’s spinning of the wheel symbolised the soul of Satyagraha, which was also an act of protest, against the devious means of the colonial regime to have a claim over the coloniser’s time, will, sustenance and sovereignty.

Today, even though in concrete terms the idea of such an industry does not rule over the economics or discourse of production, the larger meanings of Gandhi’s enterprise are worth pondering over as ways to negotiate with the violence of industrial productivity. This violence, born from the division of class interests between owners and workers, confronts labour with the burden of productive goals that endlessly expand and exploit labour time. The idea of self-sovereignty, producing work at one’s own pace without bothering about a larger industrial logic of profit-making, is worth thinking over in an era when capitalism is on a death drive.

The other, related aspect is the idea of slowness that Gandhi associated with the idea of ethical life. “Good travels at a snail’s pace,” wrote Gandhi in 1909 in Hind Swaraj. It may be interesting to compare Gandhi’s views on slowness with Milan Kundera’s observations in his novel Slowness. Kundera writes, “There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting.” Forgetting has become an unnoticeable malady, a wound that people are suffering from without realising it. Despite Italo Calvino’s praise of speed and quickness as mark of human agility and creativity, it is also time to ponder over the limits and devastations that have been caused by speed. To say like Carlo Levi, in his introduction to the Italian edition of Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (quoted by Italo Calvino), “Death is hidden in the clocks”. It precisely describes the tragedy of modern technological life, where a machine external to the working of the body controls the lifespan and vitality of the body. The gradual disappearing of memory and the clock turning larger than life are the limit situations of our life-world. This mechanisation of life and the erasure of the human would not have surprised Gandhi.

But the most political and ethical core of the reason why Gandhi is irreplaceable from the idea and the image of the spinning wheel is related to non-violence. During Gandhi’s sojourn in Noakhali during the communal riots of 1946, spinning was an exceptional act in the face of an atmosphere completely ridden with violence. Apart from the element of self-control, the act of spinning also contributed to a calm and soothing effect to people in the ashram. Since Gandhi believed it is impossible to meet violence non-violently without a certain practice that enunciates a peaceful mind, spinning granted that mode of peaceful restrain against the news and provocation of violence in Noakhali. Gandhi’s spinning khadi was not just an act of industry but also imbued with a responsibility and commitment to non-violence.

The prime minister and his regime can make no similar claims. No sincere attempt has been made to counter or discourage violence against minorities and Dalits. There have been relentless moves to police and make illegal democratic protest. Apart from token gestures made towards national self-sufficiency, corporate houses and big business have been given a big nod. Instead of serving the truth, media houses defending the regime have indulged in rampant manufacturing of lies. The image of the prime minister spinning the charkha seems totally out of place. This bizarre spin on the spinning wheel is one more tricky delivery in the playground of the nation’s political culture.

8b. Compounding Modi’s grotesque posing of himself with a spinning wheel, he sported an expensive pin-stripe suit estimated to be worth $16,000.oo (The pin-stripes were actually composed of his name when seen in a close-up.) When critics scored Modi’s behavior, he put the suit up for auction for $695,000.00!

“Modi’s Fancy Pin-Stripe Suit Lands $694,000 at Auction” by Julie McCarthy; NPR; 2/20/2015.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is noted for making bold statements — both in policy and fashion. When Modi sported a suit with pinstripes that spelled out his name in tiny gold lettering, his critics called it the height of vanity.

But the controversial suit raised more than eyebrows: It sold at auction today for nearly $695,000.

The “selfie” suit was debuted when Modi wore it to a bilateral meeting with President Obama during his visit to India last month.

Modi’s eye-catching wardrobe provided a diversion at times, with his pastel tunics, richly colored scarves and lavish headdresses. Even President Obama said Modi was a fashion icon who could join the ranks of First Lady Michele Obama.

But the suit, with pinstripes fashioned from letters that vertically spelled out “Narendra Damodardas Modi,” raised a rumpus on social media. Magnified photographs of the gold pinstripes went viral and invited ridicule.

Opposition parties leapt at Modi’s “wardrobe malfunction,” saying the man who prided himself as a one-time humble tea-seller was a hypocrite for wearing an expensive suit that some reports claimed cost nearly a million rupees, or $16,000. . . .

Discussion

3 comments for “FTR #990 Hindutva Fascism, Part 3: Modi Operandi”

  1. Check out the latest example of the influence of Yogi Adityanath, the RSS figure from Uttar Praddesh who is known for encouraging vigilante death squads against Muslims and openly backed by Narendra Modi: a week of riots between Muslims and far-right Hindus. Specifically, the week of riots broke out in the city of Kasganj in the state of Uttar Pradesh on Jan. 26, India’s Republic Day. The accounts of how exact the riots started are disputed, but what is clear is that the appointment of Adityanath as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh by Modi’s BJP last March made the Hindu-Muslim tensions in this city predictably A LOT worse:

    The New York Times

    After Religious Clash in India, Rumors Create a False ‘Martyr’

    By SUHASINI RAJ and KAI SCHULTZ
    FEB. 5, 2018

    KASGANJ, India — Rahul Upadhyay, a wiry journalist with a shock of black hair, was at home when he received news of his death.

    During celebrations on India’s Republic Day, Jan. 26, a clash broke out between Hindus and Muslims in the city of Kasganj. Schools, shops and a mosque were damaged. One person was killed; another nearly had his eye gouged out.

    Mr. Upadhyay, 24, stayed away from the violence, bunkering down inside his home in a nearby village. But the following evening, a friend called to share a peculiar bit of news: “You have been elevated to being a martyr.”

    In the span of a few hours, messages on WhatsApp and Facebook mourning “martyr Rahul,” and saying he had been killed in clashes, went viral across Uttar Pradesh State, which includes Kasganj.

    Candlelight vigils paying respect to Mr. Upadhyay, who is Hindu, lit up the streets of seven districts, some with the participation of local politicians.

    By the time Mr. Upadhyay found out, there was little he could do: The riots had become so bad in Kasganj that the authorities shut down the internet.

    “No media house or politician bothered to visit my place or call me first to confirm that I was indeed dead,” he said. “The marketplace of rumors had heated up beyond control.”

    Kasganj was not always like this. For much of its history, Muslims and Hindus coexisted peacefully in this dusty city about 100 miles east of New Delhi. As the price of land shot up in the area, the city prospered. Now, rows of mustard-colored crops, markers of the region’s agrarian roots, frame Honda dealerships catering to a population eager to trade bicycles for motorbikes.

    In the years since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party rose to power in 2014, violent outbreaks between Hindus and Muslims have become more common in some pockets of India.

    But locals said the energy did not change in Kasganj until last year, when Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand politician with ties to far-right Hindu nationalist groups, was chosen as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, home to over 200 million people.

    The clashes began with a flag. On Jan. 26, a group of Muslims gathered in an open square in Kasganj, unstacking rows of red plastic chairs and preparing to hoist a flag into the air to celebrate Republic Day, which marks the enactment of India’s constitution in 1950.

    Around the same time, dozens of men on motorbikes affiliated with a far-right Hindu student group approached the assembly, asking that the Muslims move the chairs so they could pass. Accounts of what happened next vary.

    According to a police report filed by Sushil Gupta, the father of Abhishek Gupta, the man who was actually killed, a group of Muslims began taunting the Hindus, shouting “Long Live Pakistan,” and telling them that they would have to chant “Hail Pakistan” if they wanted to pass.

    Shamsul Arafeen, 70, a Muslim tailor who was part of the crowd, remembered the encounter differently, describing a “big mob” of Hindus who demanded that the Muslims move the chairs before boiling the argument down to religion. Others said the Hindus told the Muslims to go back to Pakistan.

    “They started abusing us, saying, ‘If you want to live in Hindustan, you must chant ‘Hail Sita and Ram,’” Mr. Arafeen said, using another name for India and referring to two Hindu gods.

    The confrontation became physical soon afterward, with rioters from both sides throwing stones at each other and burning shops to the ground. Videos of the confrontations spread rapidly. The authorities shut down internet service in the area for hours.

    By the end of the clashes, which stretched over a week, over 100 people had been arrested, both Hindu and Muslim. Mohar Singh Tomar, an investigating officer with Kasganj’s police force, said it was unclear who started the clashes, brushing aside suggestions that either religious group had received unfair treatment.

    Purnendra Pratap Singh Solanki, the district president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, took a harder line, characterizing the confrontation as a “preplanned conspiracy” by a growing Muslim population to target Hindus.

    “What is very problematic for us is that Muslims are ruled by their religion first,” he said. “They consider themselves Muslims before Indians, whereas the Hindus consider themselves Indians first and then Hindus.”

    “The solution to such problems is to control their population,” Mr. Solanki added. “Their religious education at the madrassas must be combined with nationalism, peppered with nationalism. The problem is they don’t want to get educated at all.”

    Reacting to the violence in Kasganj, R. V. Singh, the district magistrate in Bareilly, also in Uttar Pradesh, described a recent episode involving a Hindu march in a village in his district.

    “A strange trend has started of carrying out processions through Muslim localities and raising anti-Pakistan slogans,” he wrote in a Facebook post that was subsequently deleted after he faced pressure from the state government. “Why? Are these people from Pakistan?”

    At the same time, the always rocky relationship between Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan has notably worsened in recent months.

    Around Kasganj, many people said they were terrified to leave their homes and return to work.

    As for Mr. Upadhyay, he still has not figured out who first reported his death or why he had been singled out. Over the last weekend in January, he fielded over 400 calls from people asking if he had died. “My mother had to serve endless cups of tea to visitors and convince them that I was alive,” he said.

    Eventually, Mr. Upadhyay figured that if he could not control social media, he might as well participate.

    “I am Rahul Upadhyay,” he said in a recorded message sent out into cyberspace. “I am well and I have not even received a scratch.”

    Still, he said, the damage was done. Hundreds of miles away, in the city of Gorakhpur, posters with his photograph had already been distributed.

    Near his face was a warning: “We will take revenge for the death of martyr Rahul Upadhyay.”

    ———-

    “After Religious Clash in India, Rumors Create a False ‘Martyr’” by SUHASINI RAJ and KAI SCHULTZ; The New York Times; 02/05/2018

    “But locals said the energy did not change in Kasganj until last year, when Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand politician with ties to far-right Hindu nationalist groups, was chosen as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, home to over 200 million people.”

    If you’re looking for a spark to inflame sectarian tensions, you could hardly come up with a more effective spark than appointing someone like Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of a state. And yet that’s exactly what Modi’s BJP did last year. And now the city of Kasganj, which doesn’t have a history of Muslim/Hindu tensions, just experienced a week of riots:


    Kasganj was not always like this. For much of its history, Muslims and Hindus coexisted peacefully in this dusty city about 100 miles east of New Delhi. As the price of land shot up in the area, the city prospered. Now, rows of mustard-colored crops, markers of the region’s agrarian roots, frame Honda dealerships catering to a population eager to trade bicycles for motorbikes.

    In the years since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party rose to power in 2014, violent outbreaks between Hindus and Muslims have become more common in some pockets of India.

    And while the exact cause of the riot is in dispute, it sure looks like it was the far-right Hindus who showed up for a fight. The stories are conflicting, but when you read the conflicting accounts and factor in that the chief minister of the state is a guy who foments mob violence against Muslims, it’s a lot easier to believe the accounts of the local Muslims over the gang far-right Hindus who suddenly showed up on motor bikes right before the initial fight broke out:


    The clashes began with a flag. On Jan. 26, a group of Muslims gathered in an open square in Kasganj, unstacking rows of red plastic chairs and preparing to hoist a flag into the air to celebrate Republic Day, which marks the enactment of India’s constitution in 1950.

    Around the same time, dozens of men on motorbikes affiliated with a far-right Hindu student group approached the assembly, asking that the Muslims move the chairs so they could pass. Accounts of what happened next vary.

    According to a police report filed by Sushil Gupta, the father of Abhishek Gupta, the man who was actually killed, a group of Muslims began taunting the Hindus, shouting “Long Live Pakistan,” and telling them that they would have to chant “Hail Pakistan” if they wanted to pass.

    Shamsul Arafeen, 70, a Muslim tailor who was part of the crowd, remembered the encounter differently, describing a “big mob” of Hindus who demanded that the Muslims move the chairs before boiling the argument down to religion. Others said the Hindus told the Muslims to go back to Pakistan.

    “They started abusing us, saying, ‘If you want to live in Hindustan, you must chant ‘Hail Sita and Ram,’” Mr. Arafeen said, using another name for India and referring to two Hindu gods.

    The confrontation became physical soon afterward, with rioters from both sides throwing stones at each other and burning shops to the ground. Videos of the confrontations spread rapidly. The authorities shut down internet service in the area for hours.

    So did the local Muslims demand that the far-right biker gang chant “Hail Pakistan” (on India’s independence day) in order to pass through the town square or did that far-right biker gang show up and basically pick a fight with the Muslims who were already gathered there and succeed in picking that fight? That’s the general question surrounding how this riot broke out. And that would be more of an open question had the BJP not appointed Yogi Adityanath – a guy who advocates mob violence against Muslims – as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. But they did. And now a week of riots and violence happened.

    So what’s the BJP’s response to the situation they appear to have created? Well, according to the district president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the problem is that this was all a “preplanned conspiracy” by the Muslim population of India and the solution is to “control their population” by injecting Indian nationalism into the Muslim religious education from the madrassas:


    Purnendra Pratap Singh Solanki, the district president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, took a harder line, characterizing the confrontation as a “preplanned conspiracy” by a growing Muslim population to target Hindus.

    “What is very problematic for us is that Muslims are ruled by their religion first,” he said. “They consider themselves Muslims before Indians, whereas the Hindus consider themselves Indians first and then Hindus.”

    “The solution to such problems is to control their population,” Mr. Solanki added. “Their religious education at the madrassas must be combined with nationalism, peppered with nationalism. The problem is they don’t want to get educated at all.”

    ““The solution to such problems is to control their population,” Mr. Solanki added. “Their religious education at the madrassas must be combined with nationalism, peppered with nationalism. The problem is they don’t want to get educated at all.””

    Now, there is undoubtedly going to be some very problematic aspects of the education India’s Muslims get in madrassas, just as there is obviously a deep need for reform in the religious education given to the people making up the Hindu nationalism championed by people like Yogi Adityanath. Ill-advised religious education is tragically widespread, especially when it’s a deeply conservative religion rooted in far-right ideals that abandon the Golden Rule. But it’s hard to imagine a less effective means of promoting national pride in India’s Muslims than a BJP push to force Indian nationalism to be taught in madrassas. Especially since the BJP and its RSS allies which will undoubtedly demand that this be a Hindu-nationalist form of Indian nationalism.

    And yet that’s the direction Modi and the BJP pushing Indian society: a giant HIndu/Muslim culture war that’s used as a reason to impose Hindu nationalism as India’s ‘official’ culture and ideology. And big riots like what just took place are clearly seen as integral to that culture war strategy. When will the next riots flare up? Who knows, but as R. V. Singh, the district magistrate in Bareilly, noted, there appears to be a trend “of carrying out processions through Muslim localities and raising anti-Pakistan slogans,” so it’s hard to imagine that the next riot is going to be too far off:


    Reacting to the violence in Kasganj, R. V. Singh, the district magistrate in Bareilly, also in Uttar Pradesh, described a recent episode involving a Hindu march in a village in his district.

    “A strange trend has started of carrying out processions through Muslim localities and raising anti-Pakistan slogans,” he wrote in a Facebook post that was subsequently deleted after he faced pressure from the state government. “Why? Are these people from Pakistan?”

    “A strange trend has started of carrying out processions through Muslim localities and raising anti-Pakistan slogans.”

    That sure sounds like a far-right movement looking to pick fights in order to further its far-right causes. Which is exactly what we should have expected after Modi’s BJP appointed someone like Yogi Adityanath to be chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. Adn that’s no doubt what Modi’s BJP expected too, which is probably why they picked him.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 6, 2018, 10:54 pm
  2. As the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover. But there are exceptions. For instance, when a children’s book is entitled “Great Leaders” and has a picture of Adolf Hitler standing next to Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela, that’s the kind of book cover that suggests this is a book best worth skipping. Especially if you’re a kid looking for a history education.

    And, of course, that’s exactly the kind of book kids in India have access to now that Pegasus, owned by India’s B. Jain Publishing Group, published its “Great Leaders” children’s book. Oh, and Narendra Modi is on the cover too. Surprise!

    And, of course, none of this should really be very surprising for India in the era of Narendra’s Modi. And not only because of the general embrace of open fascism we’re witnessing under the Modi government. It’s also because, as the following article notes, Modi himself has his own political history with children’s books that promote Hitler as a great leader: Back in 2004, the high-school textbooks in the state of Gujarat, which was then led by Mr. Modi, reportedly spoke glowingly of fascism and Nazism. In one section of the book called “Ideology of Nazism,” the textbook said Hitler had “lent dignity and prestige to the German government,” “made untiring efforts to make Germany self-reliant” and “instilled the spirit of adventure in the common people.” It only contains a brief mention of the holocaust.

    That was the kind of history education highschool children received back in 2004 when Modi led Gujarat. And now Modi leads India. So, surprise!, there’s a children’s textbook about “Great Leaders” with Gandhi, Obama, Modi, and Hitler on the cover:

    The New York Times

    Indian Children’s Book Lists Hitler as Leader ‘Who Will Inspire You’

    By KAI SCHULTZ
    MARCH 17, 2018

    NEW DELHI — An Indian publisher came under fire this week for including Hitler in a children’s book about world leaders who have “devoted their lives for the betterment of their country and people.”

    “Dedicated to the betterment of countries and people? Adolf Hitler? This description would bring tears of joy to the Nazis and their racist neo-Nazi heirs,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization, said in a statement.

    Published by the Pegasus imprint of India’s B. Jain Publishing Group, the book, called “Leaders” — but listed on the publisher’s website as “Great Leaders” — spotlights 11 leaders “who will inspire you,” according to a product description on the publisher’s website.

    On the book’s cover, a stony-faced Hitler is featured alongside Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. Also included on the cover is Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has recently come under sharp criticism for refusing to acknowledge atrocities committed by the country’s military against the Rohingya ethnic group.

    Earlier this week, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is based in Los Angeles, called for the publisher to remove “Great Leaders” from circulation and its online store, where it is sold for about $2.

    “Placing Hitler alongside truly great political and humanitarian leaders is an abomination that is made worse as it targets young people with little or no knowledge of world history and ethics,” Rabbi Cooper said in the statement.

    Annshu Juneja, a publishing manager at the imprint, said by email that Hitler was featured because, like Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, “his leadership skills and speeches influenced masses.”

    We are not talking about his way of conduct or his views or whether he was a good leader or a bad leader but simply portraying how powerful he was as a leader,” he said.

    In parts of Asia, atrocities committed in Nazi Germany are poorly understood and Hitler is sometimes glorified as a strong, effective leader.

    In 2004, reports surfaced of high-school textbooks in the state of Gujarat, which was then led by Mr. Modi, that spoke glowingly of Nazism and fascism.

    According to The Times of India, in a section called “Ideology of Nazism,” the textbook said Hitler had “lent dignity and prestige to the German government,” “made untiring efforts to make Germany self-reliant” and “instilled the spirit of adventure in the common people.” Only briefly does the book mention the extermination of millions of Jews and others by the end of World War II.

    Dilip D’Souza, an Indian journalist, wrote in a 2012 editorial that when 25 mostly upper-middle-class students taught by his wife at a private French school in Mumbai were asked to name the historical figure they most admired, nine of them picked Hitler.

    “ ‘And what about the millions he murdered?’ asked my wife. ‘Oh, yes, that was bad,’ said the kids. ‘But you know what, some of them were traitors.’ ”

    The statement from the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that “Great Leaders” had been sold this month at the Krithi International Book Fair in Kochi, a city with a long Jewish heritage. The 48-page book was originally published in 2016, according to the publisher’s website, and it was still available for sale online on Saturday. It is unclear who wrote it.

    ———-

    “Indian Children’s Book Lists Hitler as Leader ‘Who Will Inspire You’” by KAI SCHULTZ; The New York Times; 03/17/2018

    “An Indian publisher came under fire this week for including Hitler in a children’s book about world leaders who have “devoted their lives for the betterment of their country and people.”

    Hitler was one of the great world leaders who “devoted their lives for the betterment of their country and people.” That’s what the children who read “Great Leaders will learn. In a book about 11 leaders who will inspire you. Leaders like Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela. And Hitler. And Modi:


    Published by the Pegasus imprint of India’s B. Jain Publishing Group, the book, called “Leaders” — but listed on the publisher’s website as “Great Leaders” — spotlights 11 leaders “who will inspire you,” according to a product description on the publisher’s website.

    On the book’s cover, a stony-faced Hitler is featured alongside Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. Also included on the cover is Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has recently come under sharp criticism for refusing to acknowledge atrocities committed by the country’s military against the Rohingya ethnic group.

    So how does the publisher defend a children’s book like this? By pointing out that they weren’t actually commenting on Hitler’s “way of conduct or his views or whether he was a good leader or a bad leader but simply portraying how powerful he was as a leader.” So it was a value-free declaration of Hitler’s greatness. That’s, according to the publishers, is supposed to be reassuring:


    Annshu Juneja, a publishing manager at the imprint, said by email that Hitler was featured because, like Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, “his leadership skills and speeches influenced masses.”

    We are not talking about his way of conduct or his views or whether he was a good leader or a bad leader but simply portraying how powerful he was as a leader,” he said.

    And this kind of story is tragically not new for India. Especially when Modi is involved:


    In parts of Asia, atrocities committed in Nazi Germany are poorly understood and Hitler is sometimes glorified as a strong, effective leader.

    In 2004, reports surfaced of high-school textbooks in the state of Gujarat, which was then led by Mr. Modi, that spoke glowingly of Nazism and fascism.

    According to The Times of India, in a section called “Ideology of Nazism,” the textbook said Hitler had “lent dignity and prestige to the German government,” “made untiring efforts to make Germany self-reliant” and “instilled the spirit of adventure in the common people.” Only briefly does the book mention the extermination of millions of Jews and others by the end of World War II.

    And then there was the 2012 editorial by Dilip D’Souza, an Indian journalist married to a teacher who discovered that 9 out of 25 of her upper-middle-class students at a private French school in Mumbai named Hitler as the historical figure they admired most:


    Dilip D’Souza, an Indian journalist, wrote in a 2012 editorial that when 25 mostly upper-middle-class students taught by his wife at a private French school in Mumbai were asked to name the historical figure they most admired, nine of them picked Hitler.

    “ ‘And what about the millions he murdered?’ asked my wife. ‘Oh, yes, that was bad,’ said the kids. ‘But you know what, some of them were traitors.’ ”

    So as we can see, there is amazingly a profoundly misguided and widespread appreciation for Hitler in India. And while much of that appears to be fueled by a widespread lack of understanding of who he was and what he stood for, it’s also undoubtedly fueled by publishers who put out pro-Hitler children’s books.

    And as Dilip D’Souza, the author of that 2012 editorial, pointed out, that classroom of school children filled with fans of Hitler had a very different sentiment about Gandhi. “He’s a coward!” That’s the obvious flip side this love of Hitler in India. It’s an implicit rejection of Gandhi.

    And as Dilip D’Souza also pointed out, this tragic adulation of Hitler in India isn’t limited to children’s books and high-school textbooks. Hitler has a shockingly popular reputation in Indian, thanks in part to the efforts of Bal Thackeray, the now deceased chief of the Shiv Sena party which is a long-standing ally of the BJP for the last quarter century (although that alliance appears to be fracturing this year). So thanks to the leader of one of the BJP’s allies, Hitler’s reputation has enjoyed a strangely positive afterlife in India:

    The Daily Beast

    Hitler’s Strange Afterlife in India

    Hated and mocked in much of the world, the Nazi leader has developed a strange following among schoolchildren and readers of Mein Kampf in India. Dilip D’Souza on how political leader Bal Thackeray influenced Indians to admire Hitler and despise Gandhi.

    Dilip D’Souza
    11.30.12 4:45 AM ET

    My wife teaches French to tenth-grade students at a private school here in Mumbai. During one recent class, she asked these mostly upper-middle-class kids to complete the sentence “J’admire …” with the name of the historical figure they most admired.

    To say she was disturbed by the results would be to understate her reaction. Of 25 students in the class, 9 picked Adolf Hitler, making him easily the highest vote-getter in this particular exercise; a certain Mohandas Gandhi was the choice of precisely one student. Discussing the idea of courage with other students once, my wife was startled by the contempt they had for Gandhi. “He was a coward!” they said. And as far back as 2002, the Times of India reported a survey that found that 17 percent of students in elite Indian colleges “favored Adolf Hitler as the kind of leader India ought to have.”

    In a place where Gandhi becomes a coward, perhaps Hitler becomes a hero.

    Still, why Hitler? “He was a fantastic orator,” said the 10th-grade kids. “He loved his country; he was a great patriot. He gave back to Germany a sense of pride they had lost after the Treaty of Versailles,” they said.

    “And what about the millions he murdered?” asked my wife. “Oh, yes, that was bad,” said the kids. “But you know what, some of them were traitors.”

    Admiring Hitler for his oratorical skills? Surreal enough. Add to that the easy condemnation of his millions of victims as traitors. Add to that the characterization of this man as a patriot. I mean, in a short dozen years, Hitler led Germany through a scarcely believable orgy of blood to utter shame and wholesale destruction. Even the mere thought of calling such a man a patriot profoundly corrupts—is violently antithetical to—the idea of patriotism.

    But these are kids, you think, and kids say the darndest things. Except this is no easily written-off experience. The evidence is that Hitler has plenty of admirers in India, plenty of whom are by no means kids.

    Consider Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography. Reviled it might be in the much of the world, but Indians buy thousands of copies of it every month. As a recent paper in the journal EPW tells us (PDF), there are over a dozen Indian publishers who have editions of the book on the market. Jaico, for example, printed its 55th edition in 2010, claiming to have sold 100,000 copies in the previous seven years. (Contrast this to the 3,000 copies my own 2009 book, Roadrunner, has sold). In a country where 10,000 copies sold makes a book a bestseller, these are significant numbers.

    And the approval goes beyond just sales. Mein Kampf is available for sale on flipkart.com, India’s Amazon. As I write this, 51 customers have rated the book; 35 of those gave it a five-star rating. What’s more, there’s a steady trickle of reports that say it has become a must-read for business-school students; a management guide much like Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese or Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking. If this undistinguished artist could take an entire country with him, I imagine the reasoning goes, surely his book has some lessons for future captains of industry?

    Much of Hitler’s Indian afterlife is the legacy of Bal Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena party who died on Nov. 17.

    Thackeray freely, openly, and often admitted his admiration for Hitler, his book, the Nazis, and their methods. In 1993, for example, he gave an interview to Time magazine. “There is nothing wrong,” he said then, “if [Indian] Muslims are treated as Jews were in Nazi Germany.”

    This interview came only months after the December 1992 and January 1993 riots in Mumbai, which left about a thousand Indians slaughtered, the majority of them Muslim. Thackeray was active right through those weeks, writing editorial after editorial in his party mouthpiece, “Saamna” (“Confrontation”) about how to “treat” Muslims.

    On Dec. 9, 1992, for example, his editorial contained these lines: “Pakistan need not cross the borders and attack India. 250 million Muslims in India will stage an armed insurrection. They form one of Pakistan’s seven atomic bombs.”

    A month later, on Jan. 8, 1993, there was this: “Muslims of Bhendi Bazar, Null Bazar, Dongri and Pydhonie, the areas [of Mumbai] we call Mini Pakistan … must be shot on the spot.”

    There was plenty more too: much of it inspired by the failed artist who became Germany’s führer. After all, only weeks before the riots erupted, Thackeray said this about the führer’s famous autobiography: “If you take Mein Kampf and if you remove the word Jew and put in the word Muslim, that is what I believe in.”

    With rhetoric like that, it’s no wonder the streets of my city saw the slaughter of 1992-93. It’s no wonder kids come to admire a mass-murderer, to rationalize away his massacres. It’s no wonder they cling to almost comically superficial ideas of courage and patriotism, in which a megalomaniac’s every ghastly crime is forgotten so long as we can pretend that he “loved” his country.

    In his acclaimed 1997 book Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen writes: “Hitler, in possession of great oratorical skills, was the [Nazi] Party’s most forceful public speaker. Like Hitler, the party from its earliest days was devoted to the destruction of … democracy [and to] most especially and relentlessly, anti-Semitism. … The Nazi Party became Hitler’s Party, obsessively anti-Semitic and apocalyptic in its rhetoric about its enemies.”

    Do some substitutions in those sentences along the lines Thackeray wanted to do with Mein Kampf. Indeed, what you get is a more than adequate description of … no surprise, Thackeray himself.

    ———-

    “Hitler’s Strange Afterlife in India” by Dilip D’Souza; The Daily Beast; 11/30/2012

    “To say she was disturbed by the results would be to understate her reaction. Of 25 students in the class, 9 picked Adolf Hitler, making him easily the highest vote-getter in this particular exercise; a certain Mohandas Gandhi was the choice of precisely one student. Discussing the idea of courage with other students once, my wife was startled by the contempt they had for Gandhi. “He was a coward!” they said. And as far back as 2002, the Times of India reported a survey that found that 17 percent of students in elite Indian colleges “favored Adolf Hitler as the kind of leader India ought to have.””

    Gandhi, the guy who led a non-violent resistance movement against a violent oppressor, was a coward. That’s the up-is-down lesson that was somehow taught to the children who admire Hitler. And that’s apparently quite a few children. Who grow up to become adults who admire Hitler:


    But these are kids, you think, and kids say the darndest things. Except this is no easily written-off experience. The evidence is that Hitler has plenty of admirers in India, plenty of whom are by no means kids.

    Consider Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography. Reviled it might be in the much of the world, but Indians buy thousands of copies of it every month. As a recent paper in the journal EPW tells us (PDF), there are over a dozen Indian publishers who have editions of the book on the market. Jaico, for example, printed its 55th edition in 2010, claiming to have sold 100,000 copies in the previous seven years. (Contrast this to the 3,000 copies my own 2009 book, Roadrunner, has sold). In a country where 10,000 copies sold makes a book a bestseller, these are significant numbers.

    And the approval goes beyond just sales. Mein Kampf is available for sale on flipkart.com, India’s Amazon. As I write this, 51 customers have rated the book; 35 of those gave it a five-star rating. What’s more, there’s a steady trickle of reports that say it has become a must-read for business-school students; a management guide much like Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese or Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking. If this undistinguished artist could take an entire country with him, I imagine the reasoning goes, surely his book has some lessons for future captains of industry?

    Mein Kampf, the must-read for business-school students. Because, hey, if this undistinguished artist could take an entire country with him, I imagine the reasoning goes, surely his book has some lessons for future captains of industry? And now, thanks to Donald Trump – who kept a book of Hitler’s speeches on his nightstand according to his ex-wife Ivana – one of those Hitler-loving captains of industry became the US President. It’s one of the many unfortunate lessons to the world brought to us by the Trump presidency. But for Indian society, those high-profile Hitler-loving lessons didn’t start with Trump. And in recent decades these lessons were openly promoted to India’s public by Bal Thackeray, chief of the far right Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party. Lessons like how India should treat Muslims like how the Nazis treated the Jews:


    Much of Hitler’s Indian afterlife is the legacy of Bal Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena party who died on Nov. 17.

    Thackeray freely, openly, and often admitted his admiration for Hitler, his book, the Nazis, and their methods. In 1993, for example, he gave an interview to Time magazine. “There is nothing wrong,” he said then, “if [Indian] Muslims are treated as Jews were in Nazi Germany.”

    This interview came only months after the December 1992 and January 1993 riots in Mumbai, which left about a thousand Indians slaughtered, the majority of them Muslim. Thackeray was active right through those weeks, writing editorial after editorial in his party mouthpiece, “Saamna” (“Confrontation”) about how to “treat” Muslims.

    On Dec. 9, 1992, for example, his editorial contained these lines: “Pakistan need not cross the borders and attack India. 250 million Muslims in India will stage an armed insurrection. They form one of Pakistan’s seven atomic bombs.”

    A month later, on Jan. 8, 1993, there was this: “Muslims of Bhendi Bazar, Null Bazar, Dongri and Pydhonie, the areas [of Mumbai] we call Mini Pakistan … must be shot on the spot.”

    There was plenty more too: much of it inspired by the failed artist who became Germany’s führer. After all, only weeks before the riots erupted, Thackeray said this about the führer’s famous autobiography: “If you take Mein Kampf and if you remove the word Jew and put in the word Muslim, that is what I believe in.”

    With rhetoric like that, it’s no wonder the streets of my city saw the slaughter of 1992-93. It’s no wonder kids come to admire a mass-murderer, to rationalize away his massacres. It’s no wonder they cling to almost comically superficial ideas of courage and patriotism, in which a megalomaniac’s every ghastly crime is forgotten so long as we can pretend that he “loved” his country.

    Again, Thackeray’s Shiv Sena party is a long-standing BJP ally. Which is a reminder that the BJP really is a fascistic party. That’s why it’s allied with so many other fascistic parties like Shiv Sena and the RSS.

    So while Obama, Gandhi, and Mandela are rather jarring figures to see on a book cover next to Hitler, a Hitler/Modi book cover is probably something we should reasonably expect at this point. Although hopefully not children’s book covers.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 19, 2018, 9:57 pm
  3. Oh look at that: Jayant Sinha, the lead advisor for the Omidyar Network in India who became Narendra Modi’s finance minister and is now a member of parliament, was just caught garlanding (adorning with flowers) eight men convicted of killing a meat trader last year as part of a far right Hindu national “cow vigilantism” campaign. The killing was caught on video. One of the men just happened to be a local BJP leader.

    The killing took place a day after Modi belatedly proclaimed that “killing people in the name of cow protection unacceptable”, which was notable since these cow vigilantism acts have been going on for years with a muted response from Modi’s government. Consequently, the eleven people involved with the killing were sent to a fast track court and given life sentences in March, making it the FIRST successful conviction over an act of cow vigilantism.

    But Sinha protested that conviction, claiming that he was convinced that justice was not done. He then demanded that the case be probed again but by the Central Bureau of Investigation this time. Fast forward to today, and eight of them were just released on bail last week while they appeal their conviction. They then traveled to Sinha’s residence where they were feted:

    NDTV

    Minister Jayant Sinha Garlands 8 Men Who Killed Meat Trader In Jharkhand
    The meat trader in Jharkhand was dragged out of his car and beaten to death by a mob that suspected he was carrying beef. As Alimuddin Ansari, 55, lay dying on a road in Ramgarh town, his car was also set on fire.

    All India | Reported by Manish Kumar, Edited by Aloke Tikku | Updated: July 06, 2018 22:45 IST

    Hazaribag, Jharkhand:

    Jayant Sinha, the union minister from Jharkhand has landed himself in the middle of a row after the minister felicitated eight men convicted for killing a meat trader last year.

    The controversy erupted after photographs emerged showing the minister welcoming them at his residence. In some, the union minister of state for civil aviation is also seen garlanding the eight convicts at his residence on the outskirts of Hazaribagh

    “This is despicable,” Jharkhand’s leader of opposition Hemant Soren tweeted in a stinging swipe at the union minister, tagging the minister’s alma mater, the prestigious Harvard University of the US.

    “Your alumnus @jayantsinha felicitating the accused in cow related lynching death in India. Is this what @Harvard stands for?” Mr Soren tweeted about Mr Sinha, the BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Hazaribagh. Ramgarh town is also a part of his constituency.

    A total of 11 men, including a local BJP leader, were sentenced to a life term for beating Alimuddin to death on 30 June last year.

    The meat trader in Jharkhand was dragged out of his car and beaten to death by a mob that suspected he was carrying beef. As Alimuddin Ansari, 55, lay dying on a road in Ramgarh town, his car was also set on fire.

    The deadly attack by the self-styled cow vigilantes had come just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called “killing people in the name of cow protection unacceptable”.

    The Raghubar Das government in Jharkhand decided to send a strong message, ordered the police to quickly probe the case and sent it to a fast track court.

    The court verdict came nine months later, in March this year.

    They were convicted on the basis of a statement by Alimuddin’s wife Mariam Khatoon.

    The police also came across a video that it said showed Nityanand Mahto, 45, the district BJP’s media in-charge dragging Alimuddin Ansari out of the car that a group of cow vigilantes had forced to stop near Ranchi. The mob took over from there and mercilessly thrashed him.

    Ajoy Kumar of the Congress too expressed his shock at Mr Sinha, who he said was considered “among the most educated minister in PM Modi’s cabinet, “openly” supporting people convicted for killing an innocent. “Do they have no work to show except playing politics on dead bodies and dividing society?” he said in an attack on the BJP.

    This isn’t the first time that Mr Sinha has been seen to be associating himself with the accused in this case.

    After the court convicted the 11 people in March, Mr Sinha had demanded that the case be probed again. This time, by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

    ———-

    “Minister Jayant Sinha Garlands 8 Men Who Killed Meat Trader In Jharkhand” by Manish Kumar; NDTV; 07/06/2018

    The controversy erupted after photographs emerged showing the minister welcoming them at his residence. In some, the union minister of state for civil aviation is also seen garlanding the eight convicts at his residence on the outskirts of Hazaribagh.”

    So eight of the the guys caught on video beating a man to death after in an act of far right “cow vigilantism” were released on bail while they appeal their life sentence, and what do they do while on bail? They head to Sinha’s residence to get feted. Classy.

    And don’t forget that one of these men was a local BJP leader, highlighting the fact that these cow vigilantes are part of the BJP Hindu nationalist base:


    A total of 11 men, including a local BJP leader, were sentenced to a life term for beating Alimuddin to death on 30 June last year.

    The meat trader in Jharkhand was dragged out of his car and beaten to death by a mob that suspected he was carrying beef. As Alimuddin Ansari, 55, lay dying on a road in Ramgarh town, his car was also set on fire.

    Also note how the attack came one day after Modi had called “killing people in the name of cow protection unacceptable”. This was tragically notable because of the extended silence on cow vigilantism by Modi and his BJP that preceded Modi’s statement. So while it’s largely been ‘open season’ for these cow vigilantes, this particular group had really bad timing leading to their swift convictions life sentences. The fact that the local BJP leader was caught on video dragging the victim out of his car didn’t help with their legal defense:


    The deadly attack by the self-styled cow vigilantes had come just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called “killing people in the name of cow protection unacceptable”.

    The Raghubar Das government in Jharkhand decided to send a strong message, ordered the police to quickly probe the case and sent it to a fast track court.

    The court verdict came nine months later, in March this year.

    They were convicted on the basis of a statement by Alimuddin’s wife Mariam Khatoon.

    The police also came across a video that it said showed Nityanand Mahto, 45, the district BJP’s media in-charge dragging Alimuddin Ansari out of the car that a group of cow vigilantes had forced to stop near Ranchi. The mob took over from there and mercilessly thrashed him.

    But despite that video evidence, Jayant Sinha determined that justice wasn’t done and the case needed to be reinvestigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation:


    Ajoy Kumar of the Congress too expressed his shock at Mr Sinha, who he said was considered “among the most educated minister in PM Modi’s cabinet, “openly” supporting people convicted for killing an innocent. “Do they have no work to show except playing politics on dead bodies and dividing society?” he said in an attack on the BJP.

    This isn’t the first time that Mr Sinha has been seen to be associating himself with the accused in this case.

    After the court convicted the 11 people in March, Mr Sinha had demanded that the case be probed again. This time, by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

    As the following article describes, Sinha ‘studied the various facets of the case’ and came to firmly believe that ‘complete justice has not been done’. Presumably ‘complete justice’ involved acquitting the individuals caught on tape beating a man to death. And he arrived at this conclusion after taking advice from the BJP.

    And as the following article also points out, the conviction of these 11 men was the first case in the country where people accused to cow vigilantism violence were actually convicted. So, from a symbolic standpoint, this was a highly significant case:

    Hindustan Times

    Jayant Sinha wants CBI probe in Ramgarh lynching case in which 11 were convicted
    On March 21, the court had awarded life imprisonment to 11 cow vigilantes, including a local BJP leader, for lynching 55-year old Alimuddin alias Asgar Ali for carrying what they claimed was beef in his vehicle last year.

    Vishal Kant
    Hindustan Times, New Delhi
    india Updated: Apr 07, 2018 23:18 IST

    Union minister Jayant Sinha on Saturday demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Ramgarh lynching case of a Muslim trader, raising doubts over the police investigation, in which a local court convicted and awarded life sentence to 11 people last month.

    On March 21, the court had awarded life imprisonment to 11 cow vigilantes, including a local BJP leader, for lynching 55-year old Alimuddin alias Asgar Ali for carrying what they claimed was beef in his vehicle last year.

    “We respect the judicial process. But from whatever I have gathered after consultations and studying the various facets (of the case), I firmly believe that complete justice has not been done. I am not a police officer, and I have not done a detailed inquiry, but as per my understanding, complete justice has not been done. I consulted senior lawyers and also took advice from the party (BJP) on the matter. I have decided to write to the (Jharkhand) chief minister (Raghubar Das), requesting him to recommend a CBI probe,” the minister said.

    The court of additional district judge Om Prakash held guilty all the accused under Section 302 (murder) and other offences of the IPC, making it the first case in the country in connection with cow vigilantism and related violence in which the accused were convicted. The BJP-ruled Jharkhand witnessed a series of lynching of Muslim cattle traders in the months of May and June in 2017.
    ———-

    “Jayant Sinha wants CBI probe in Ramgarh lynching case in which 11 were convicted” by Vishal Kant; Hindustan Times; 04/07/2018

    ““We respect the judicial process. But from whatever I have gathered after consultations and studying the various facets (of the case), I firmly believe that complete justice has not been done. I am not a police officer, and I have not done a detailed inquiry, but as per my understanding, complete justice has not been done. I consulted senior lawyers and also took advice from the party (BJP) on the matter. I have decided to write to the (Jharkhand) chief minister (Raghubar Das), requesting him to recommend a CBI probe,” the minister said.”

    After getting advice from the BJP, Sinha concluded that “complete justice has not been done.”

    And this was the first case of cow vigilante violence resulting in a conviction. So if they manage to get these guys acquitted India will be back to have no instance of cow vigilantes facing punishment:


    The court of additional district judge Om Prakash held guilty all the accused under Section 302 (murder) and other offences of the IPC, making it the first case in the country in connection with cow vigilantism and related violence in which the accused were convicted. The BJP-ruled Jharkhand witnessed a series of lynching of Muslim cattle traders in the months of May and June in 2017.

    And as the following article describes, the symbolic importance of cow vigilantism isn’t simply a demonstration of the BJP’s willingness to cater to whims of Hindu nationalists. The focus on cow is an part of the narrative the BJP and its ideological RSS parent movement have been promoting that attack modernism and pluralism. The cow vigilantism is part of a narrative that exalts a mythical time of Brahamic purity that allegedly existed before the arrival of the British and Muslims on the Indian subcontinent. And because it’s primarily Muslims and lower-caste Hindus who consume beef in India, the cow vigilantism provides a convenient proxy issue to excuse attacks on those seen as an ‘other’ by the Hindu nationalists. As the article puts it, a crucial ingredient to Modi’s political success has been tapping into a nostalgic impulse for a purer past and the sacredness of the cow has come to symbolize that Hindu nationalist drive for national renewal:

    The New Republic

    How “Cow Vigilantes” Launched India’s Lynching Epidemic
    Narendra Modi is presiding over a new, bloody politics surrounding the consumption of beef—one that could destroy the soul of Indian democracy.

    By Amar Diwakar
    July 26, 2017

    India has been beset by a wave of gruesome lynchings. And at the epicenter of the country’s violent upheaval is the indolent cow. Emboldened by an ascendant Hindu nationalist movement, coupled with a controversial government ban on cattle slaughter, so-called cow-vigilante groups have been carrying out a ruthless form of mob justice, summarily executing those suspected of killing, trading, or consuming beef. India’s embattled minorities, particularly Muslims, have borne the brunt of the violence, confirming the worst suspicions about what Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his brand of Hindu chauvinism would unleash on the country.

    The atrocities have steadily been mounting. In September 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq was hanged over rumors that he killed a cow and refrigerated its meat. A month later, 16-year-old Zahid Rasool Bhaat was slain by vigilante groups. In March of this year, suspected cattle traders Muhammed Majloom and Azad Khan were lynched. In April, 55-year old dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was accused of smuggling cows and was brutally beaten to death. In May, traders were assaulted for alleged beef storage, and Abu Hanifa and Riazuddin Ali were killed for purportedly stealing cattle. In June, Ainul Ansari was attacked on suspicion of transporting beef, while 15-year-old Junaid Khan was stabbed to death by a mob after being branded a beef eater.

    Since September of last year, there have been more than a dozen lynchings across the country. Modi, who was feted by Donald Trump at the White House in June, has been ominously quiet on the issue.

    Two cases in particular—of Pehlu Khan and Junaid Khan—offer the starkest evidence to date that an indelible rot is growing in the Indian Republic. Pehlu Khan’s death at the hands of cow vigilantes in Rajasthan occurred with the complicity of the crowd, who collectively bayed for his execution. It was also captured on camera, and subsequently watched by millions on social media. Just as chilling was the muted response that followed, as Aatish Taseer argued in a column for The New York Times:

    Like all forms of theater, a lynching depends on what is left unsaid; it creates a mood, an atmosphere. The silence that settles in after the euphoric act of violence, which all have witnessed, tells a minority group that it has been forsaken. It is this element of a suggestive and creeping threat, in which the state apparatus and a silent majority are complicit, that has the power to demoralize a community as much as the physical acts of violence.

    In the case of Junaid Khan, police were unable to produce a witness for the grim spectacle of his stabbing death, despite the fact that some 200 people had been assembled on the railway platform in Haryana where the killing took place. This kind of “unseeing” has become common—as Aarti Sethi writes, lynchings are a “social non-event in contemporary India.” This is an extreme form of alienation, in which Hindus have chosen to disregard the dead body of a Muslim child. In doing so, they symbolically withdrew Junaid’s membership from the socio-political order.

    The country’s ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), under the stewardship of Modi and his openly Hindutva (“Hindu-first”) platform, have done little to stem the rise in communal tensions. They have not denounced this barbarism with conviction, only paying reluctant lip service in the face of incessant public pressure.

    In fact, much of the hysteria over the cow, a sacred animal in Hinduism, was shrewdly engineered. During Modi’s election campaign in 2014, he railed against a “pink revolution,” a euphemism for India’s $5 billion-a-year meat export industry (the color pink is a reference to the color of beef), which was flourishing under Congress Party rule. The industry is concentrated in Uttar Pradesh, providing direct or indirect employment to around 2.5 million people. The sector is dominated by Muslims but also provides work to low-caste Hindus, which means the surge in cow protectionism has had a disproportionate impact on those communities.

    “Do you want to support people who want to bring about a Pink Revolution?” Modi bellowed on the campaign trail.

    It should come as no surprise that, in the three years since the BJP took the reins of power, India has witnessed a growing climate of intolerance against minorities. Whipping up communal strife is a necessary part of the Hindu nationalist playbook. But the roots of the current crisis, in which the life of a cow is considered more sacred than that of a teenaged boy, go much deeper than Modi, reaching into the fundamental battle for modern India’s soul, between illiberal Hindutva forces and a pluralistic tradition that has rarely looked so vulnerable.

    This is why Modi’s adherents have constructed a grand monolithic narrative to justify their actions, one that proclaims cultural continuity of tradition and that pivots upon a retrograde Brahmanical core. The complex history of the priestly caste is papered over with strident assertions of Brahmanical purity, of which vegetarianism and the sanctity of the cow are indispensable components.

    Under this worldview, the golden age of Hindu rule in the Vedic period, subsequently sullied by foreign pollutants—the British, yes, but the rapacious Muslim in particular—is to be channeled into twenty-first-century renewal, piloted by an arbitrary set of “Hindu values.” And foremost among these is the inviolability of the cow.

    However, this schema suffers from a significant flaw: A pristine and contiguous Hindu civilization in which the cow’s sanctity was upheld is disputed by the historical record. It is little more than embellished mythmaking. Much like other appeals to a bygone era of civilizational supremacy and homogeneity, it is thoroughly a product of modernity. The concept of a “Hindu” India was largely shaped by nineteenth-century European Indologists, and it gained traction, along with competing nationalist ideologies like Mahatma Gandhi’s, in response to British colonialism.

    The BJP, as well as its ideological parent organization the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, peddle a version of nationalism that prioritizes exclusivity, in which Indians are rigidly defined by ethnicity and religion. The trope of the cow is thus a convenient instrument, measuring the allegiance to the nation along gastronomical—and thereby spiritual—lines. Non-Hindus are deemed a surplus population, and violence against them is sanctioned in an attempt to cleanse the true body politic.

    We have seen versions of this story play out across the world, in response to the failures of technocratic elites and the supposed champions of pluralistic democracy. In India’s case, the Congress Party became mired in corruption scandals, paving the way for Modi and the BJP to present themselves as pragmatic reformers. And indeed, that is how Modi is generally conveyed in the international press, with a focus on his attempts to overhaul India’s sclerotic tax system and to root out endemic corruption.

    But the crucial ingredient is the way Modi has tapped into the nostalgic impulse. Svetlana Boym, a Russian-American philologist, has described this as the “historical emotion” of modernity, and argued that attempts to create a “phantom homeland” through ahistorical restoration would only breed monstrous consequences. As she writes in The Future of Nostalgia, it is a “restorative nostalgia” that “is at the core of recent national and religious revivals. It knows two main plots—the return to origins and the conspiracy.”

    And so we inhabit a landscape where MAGA caps, Little England, the Hindu Rashtra, and the Islamic Caliphate have arrested the imagination of millions. These are all overtures to an Edenic past, promising an order that preserves tradition by purifying society of contagion.

    Modi’s two central agendas—economic development and Hindu cultural revival— compete with one another for headlines. Yet his commitment to pandering to the far right has never truly been in question. The creation of communal discord crystallizes the BJP’s ambition to alter history and hegemonize “Indian values” as exclusively Hindu values. The party has eagerly deployed Hindu symbols and myths to convert nostalgia into electoral support. So far this approach has been extremely successful: Close to half of Indians now dwell in BJP-controlled states, devoid of an effective opposition.

    ————

    “How “Cow Vigilantes” Launched India’s Lynching Epidemic” by Amar Diwakar; The New Republic; 07/26/2017

    “India has been beset by a wave of gruesome lynchings. And at the epicenter of the country’s violent upheaval is the indolent cow. Emboldened by an ascendant Hindu nationalist movement, coupled with a controversial government ban on cattle slaughter, so-called cow-vigilante groups have been carrying out a ruthless form of mob justice, summarily executing those suspected of killing, trading, or consuming beef. India’s embattled minorities, particularly Muslims, have borne the brunt of the violence, confirming the worst suspicions about what Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his brand of Hindu chauvinism would unleash on the country.”

    Yep, as part of the Modi government’s Hindu nationalist program the government imposed a ban a cattle slaughter (which didn’t actual ban the slaughter of cattle but made it much, much harder to Muslim meat and leather traders to do it), emboldening the cow vigilantes and leading to a string of high profile attacks. Attacks that happened in the middle of large crowds or were filmed, and yet no witnesses could be found resulting in no convictions. In other words, in some cases the cow vigilantism is a community-wide act involving community-wide silence after the attack:


    The atrocities have steadily been mounting. In September 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq was hanged over rumors that he killed a cow and refrigerated its meat. A month later, 16-year-old Zahid Rasool Bhaat was slain by vigilante groups. In March of this year, suspected cattle traders Muhammed Majloom and Azad Khan were lynched. In April, 55-year old dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was accused of smuggling cows and was brutally beaten to death. In May, traders were assaulted for alleged beef storage, and Abu Hanifa and Riazuddin Ali were killed for purportedly stealing cattle. In June, Ainul Ansari was attacked on suspicion of transporting beef, while 15-year-old Junaid Khan was stabbed to death by a mob after being branded a beef eater.

    Since September of last year, there have been more than a dozen lynchings across the country. Modi, who was feted by Donald Trump at the White House in June, has been ominously quiet on the issue.

    Two cases in particular—of Pehlu Khan and Junaid Khan—offer the starkest evidence to date that an indelible rot is growing in the Indian Republic. Pehlu Khan’s death at the hands of cow vigilantes in Rajasthan occurred with the complicity of the crowd, who collectively bayed for his execution. It was also captured on camera, and subsequently watched by millions on social media. Just as chilling was the muted response that followed, as Aatish Taseer argued in a column for The New York Times:

    Like all forms of theater, a lynching depends on what is left unsaid; it creates a mood, an atmosphere. The silence that settles in after the euphoric act of violence, which all have witnessed, tells a minority group that it has been forsaken. It is this element of a suggestive and creeping threat, in which the state apparatus and a silent majority are complicit, that has the power to demoralize a community as much as the physical acts of violence.

    In the case of Junaid Khan, police were unable to produce a witness for the grim spectacle of his stabbing death, despite the fact that some 200 people had been assembled on the railway platform in Haryana where the killing took place. This kind of “unseeing” has become common—as Aarti Sethi writes, lynchings are a “social non-event in contemporary India.” This is an extreme form of alienation, in which Hindus have chosen to disregard the dead body of a Muslim child. In doing so, they symbolically withdrew Junaid’s membership from the socio-political order.

    Modi himself railed against the slaughter of cows during his 2014 campaign and used as a proxy attack on Muslim and low-caste Hindus:


    The country’s ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), under the stewardship of Modi and his openly Hindutva (“Hindu-first”) platform, have done little to stem the rise in communal tensions. They have not denounced this barbarism with conviction, only paying reluctant lip service in the face of incessant public pressure.

    In fact, much of the hysteria over the cow, a sacred animal in Hinduism, was shrewdly engineered. During Modi’s election campaign in 2014, he railed against a “pink revolution,” a euphemism for India’s $5 billion-a-year meat export industry (the color pink is a reference to the color of beef), which was flourishing under Congress Party rule. The industry is concentrated in Uttar Pradesh, providing direct or indirect employment to around 2.5 million people. The sector is dominated by Muslims but also provides work to low-caste Hindus, which means the surge in cow protectionism has had a disproportionate impact on those communities.

    “Do you want to support people who want to bring about a Pink Revolution?” Modi bellowed on the campaign trail.

    And this embrace of cow vigilantism turns out to be a crucial element of the BJP/RSS political narrative of nostalgia about a non-existent past of Hindu glory and purity, before Muslims and the British arrived, that we see play out by far right movements around the world: sell the public on the idea that there can be a return to an Edenic past once society purges itself of these outside contagions:


    It should come as no surprise that, in the three years since the BJP took the reins of power, India has witnessed a growing climate of intolerance against minorities. Whipping up communal strife is a necessary part of the Hindu nationalist playbook. But the roots of the current crisis, in which the life of a cow is considered more sacred than that of a teenaged boy, go much deeper than Modi, reaching into the fundamental battle for modern India’s soul, between illiberal Hindutva forces and a pluralistic tradition that has rarely looked so vulnerable.

    This is why Modi’s adherents have constructed a grand monolithic narrative to justify their actions, one that proclaims cultural continuity of tradition and that pivots upon a retrograde Brahmanical core. The complex history of the priestly caste is papered over with strident assertions of Brahmanical purity, of which vegetarianism and the sanctity of the cow are indispensable components.

    Under this worldview, the golden age of Hindu rule in the Vedic period, subsequently sullied by foreign pollutants—the British, yes, but the rapacious Muslim in particular—is to be channeled into twenty-first-century renewal, piloted by an arbitrary set of “Hindu values.” And foremost among these is the inviolability of the cow.

    However, this schema suffers from a significant flaw: A pristine and contiguous Hindu civilization in which the cow’s sanctity was upheld is disputed by the historical record. It is little more than embellished mythmaking. Much like other appeals to a bygone era of civilizational supremacy and homogeneity, it is thoroughly a product of modernity. The concept of a “Hindu” India was largely shaped by nineteenth-century European Indologists, and it gained traction, along with competing nationalist ideologies like Mahatma Gandhi’s, in response to British colonialism.

    The BJP, as well as its ideological parent organization the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, peddle a version of nationalism that prioritizes exclusivity, in which Indians are rigidly defined by ethnicity and religion. The trope of the cow is thus a convenient instrument, measuring the allegiance to the nation along gastronomical—and thereby spiritual—lines. Non-Hindus are deemed a surplus population, and violence against them is sanctioned in an attempt to cleanse the true body politic.

    We have seen versions of this story play out across the world, in response to the failures of technocratic elites and the supposed champions of pluralistic democracy. In India’s case, the Congress Party became mired in corruption scandals, paving the way for Modi and the BJP to present themselves as pragmatic reformers. And indeed, that is how Modi is generally conveyed in the international press, with a focus on his attempts to overhaul India’s sclerotic tax system and to root out endemic corruption.

    But the crucial ingredient is the way Modi has tapped into the nostalgic impulse. Svetlana Boym, a Russian-American philologist, has described this as the “historical emotion” of modernity, and argued that attempts to create a “phantom homeland” through ahistorical restoration would only breed monstrous consequences. As she writes in The Future of Nostalgia, it is a “restorative nostalgia” that “is at the core of recent national and religious revivals. It knows two main plots—the return to origins and the conspiracy.”

    And so we inhabit a landscape where MAGA caps, Little England, the Hindu Rashtra, and the Islamic Caliphate have arrested the imagination of millions. These are all overtures to an Edenic past, promising an order that preserves tradition by purifying society of contagion.

    “Under this worldview, the golden age of Hindu rule in the Vedic period, subsequently sullied by foreign pollutants—the British, yes, but the rapacious Muslim in particular—is to be channeled into twenty-first-century renewal, piloted by an arbitrary set of “Hindu values.” And foremost among these is the inviolability of the cow.”

    Of course, this strategy has been tragically effective:


    Modi’s two central agendas—economic development and Hindu cultural revival— compete with one another for headlines. Yet his commitment to pandering to the far right has never truly been in question. The creation of communal discord crystallizes the BJP’s ambition to alter history and hegemonize “Indian values” as exclusively Hindu values. The party has eagerly deployed Hindu symbols and myths to convert nostalgia into electoral support. So far this approach has been extremely successful: Close to half of Indians now dwell in BJP-controlled states, devoid of an effective opposition.

    Keep in mind that this appeal to a mythical pure past is alarmingly similar to exact same strategy Adolf Hitler and the Nazis employed, as Peter Levenda discusses in FTR#1013. So that’s one more element of Nazism embraced by the BJP and RSS, and which is currently being championed by the Omidyar Network’s Jayant Sinha.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 6, 2018, 2:30 pm

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