Arindam Chaudhuri
[June, 2011]

The modern day Jalianwala Bagh at Ramlila Grounds shows the demonic attitude of the government, the weak spine of the opposition and the hypocrisy of the media towards Bharat!

My question is, are we living in a democracy or in a shamelessly unapologetic dictatorial regime? Has the government finally lost it totally? Or do they believe that the people of the country are so foolish that they will quietly accept any amount of dictatorship and vote them to power again in 2014? Is there absolutely no learning from DMK’s huge loss in Tamil Nadu where it virtually controlled the media and yet people kicked them out? What happened on June 4th, 2011, is an absolute blot on the Indian democracy. There is absolutely no exaggeration when people compare the incidents of the day to Emergency or the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre. June 4th is the 2011 equivalent of both. Today, one doesn’t need to shove people inside a well and fire. Going in the midst of sleeping protesters – men, women and children – beating them up and taking the huge risk of a possible stampede and fire that could have killed thousands, is Jalianwala Bagh. And this stinks of the thought process that went behind the Emergency.

Baba Ramdev has mostly raised very, very pertinent issues of national concern. From asking the government to ban the thousand rupee note (since that makes it ten times easier to hoard black money than hundred rupee notes; a reason why countries like the USA or UK have the hundred dollar bill as the highest denominator for their currency) to asking the government to bring back the 1.4 trillion dollars stashed away in Swiss banks (India is the country with the largest pile of black money stashed abroad, the second being Russia with $400 billion, followed by UK, Ukraine and China at the fifth place with $96 billion), the man is perhaps the only mass leader of the nation with a nationwide followership and someone whose remedies have benefited millions of Indians for real – and they literally swear by him. There have also been murmurs about RSS’ growing proximity with the Baba in the wake of its dissatisfaction with the BJP. Naturally, the government had reasons to be scared. Mighty scared; especially with the civil societies around the world in a mood for uprisings. So, to crush the mass movement that he was creating, they did what was unthinkable in Indian democracy, and that too in the capital of the country. The government actions are now a clear indication that this government has turned demonic and is losing legitimacy to run the country with every passing day.

The incident also proves how spineless the opposition parties, especially the BJP, has become. A strong opposition would have and should have brought this country to a standstill till the Prime Minister tendered his resignation on moral grounds or at the least apologized for his demonic actions. A strong opposition would not have allowed the PM to say shamelessly that the police action was inevitable, or allowed Rahul Gandhi to make statements that the Congress would not allow such protests! What a joke in the world’s so called largest democracy. It is time that BJP leaders stop the infighting and show the government its place. Had they seized this or the countless other opportunities this government has been providing systematically, they would have been assured of a return to power. Not that it won’t happen, but it looks now that if such a return to power happens, it wouldn’t be so much because of the BJP but more despite the BJP.

It is sad and shameful that the Supreme Court of India, instead of giving a 24 hour notice to the government to explain its actions against Baba Ramdev, and taking a stern action thereafter, gave a shocking 14 day notice to the government to file a reply on the happenings. The government got enough time for manipulations and passing the buck! But worse perhaps is the clear divide between ‘Bharat’ and ‘India’ that came across during this event. The government wouldn’t have dared to take such an action as they did had the crowd consisted of middle class and upper middle class people. They had this audacity because the people who were there with Baba Ramdev represented the hapless and poorer sections of the country. Even the media followed the same thought process, despite the fact that a majority in the media are from the so called Bharat. When the Anna Hazare movement happened. there were designer dress-clad Delhites out there to support him; and the media was going gaga. When the same common man, the man who represents Bharat, took to the streets for the sake of Baba Ramdev, the same media was looking at the movement with suspicion and question marks.

Finally, I just want to say that we live in a country that is proud – and often criticized – to have inherited its Constitution, laws and democratic framework from the British; yet, it’s astonishing that one of the greatest virtues of the British democracy is missing! You enter London’s Hyde Park and the Parliament area and you see all kinds of protesters sitting all around doing all kinds of demonstrations! In New Delhi today, if one wants to protest, he is being denied a place! This is unbelievable! In the land of Gandhi, people who want to protest peacefully are being thrashed mercilessly and made ‘tadipaars’! This is not the democracy that Gandhi dreamt of. In simple words, it is the shameful and unapologetic dictatorship of the sycophants. And it must end.
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