Those silently watching JNU attack are like Dhritrashtra’s darbaris

Police that once arrested JNU students led by Kanhaiyya Kumar on the basis of doctored videos has not been able to identify a single person involved in the attack, even when their identities are public. Photo: PTI File

The India of today has begun to resemble Kuru king Dhritrashtra’s darbar. Its honour, traditions and pride are being disrobed, its students are being attacked and girls are being manhandled with impunity by thugs. And the people responsible for speaking up and taking a stand are watching in silence.

Some of the darbaris of the Kuru kingdom at least had a conscience, if not courage. Even though they were incapacitated by their loyalty to the throne, they hung their heads in shame as the ugly drama unfolded in front of their eyes. But, the darbaris of today are not just shameless, they are actually puffing their chests with pride, slapping their thighs in excitement, like Dushasana, and finding innovative justifications for the current chaos.

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It would be futile to talk about the political leadership here. For some strange reason, it seems to be inhabiting a different world, and is keen to talk only about Pakistan, utter absurdities like “tukde-tukde” gang when campuses across India are burning, being attacked by goons under the patronage of their political masters. When the history of this phase is written without fear, without any bias, those in power today would be ashamed to read some of the chapters.

Or, maybe they wouldn’t be bothered at all. The worrying fact about the ruling class is that it exudes a chilling brand of insensitivity. Psychoanalysts would be able to say more about it at a later stage, but prima facie it resembles a person whose only purpose in life is to demolish political and ideological rivals, and win at all cost. It’s only credo is ruthlessness. India’s home minister, in particular, appears to be made of stuff that’s immune to sensitivity, compassion and many other traits that have served humanity for ages. Perhaps his fans are right in calling him India’s iron man, without, of course, Tony Stark’s heart.

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The scary thing about this darbar is that its members seem to have been cast in the image of its dark lords, as if some powerful force has breathed its poison down their lungs, and sucked out their conscience. If JK Rowling were to write about them, she would find the darbaris eerily similar to the dementors in her fantasy world. We had seen the first sign of these frigid souls in the aftermath of Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad in January 2016. Back then, instead of addressing the concerns of students, sympathising with the dead student’s family, the then HRD minister Smriti Irani had addressed Parliament in her trademark style: nostrils flaring, lips curled, hands flailing, as if she was at war with her own wards. In four years we have seen the Irani-isation of the entire Delhi darbar.

Witness the sorry plight of our police force. It has been weaponised as a tool of repression, like a militia prepared to work on the margins of lawlessness to inflict damage, destruction and death on Indian citizens. The conduct of the Delhi police — the agency responsible for maintaining law and order in the Indian capital — has been alarming and pitiable, by turn. When this elite force got beaten up by lawyers it ran away with its tail tucked between the legs. When in the midst of students protesting in campuses, this forced rediscovered its machismo, attacked libraries, fired at unarmed youth and lied about it without remorse.

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Its role in the recent attack on students and teachers of JNU is horrifying. There is mounting evidence to suggest the Sunday evening attack was planned by the ABVP, facilitated by some insiders and watched in silence by Delhi cops. The manner in which the streets were darkened before the attack, appeals for help were ignored and the attackers were allowed to walk out of the campus after two hours of mayhem points to a malign conspiracy. In any other democracy, many heads would have rolled because of this toxic mix of conspiracy and incompetence. But, unfortunately, the Kuru darbar has its own code of morality.

It is surprising that the Delhi police have not been able to book a single person in connection with the attack on students and teachers. News channels, social media and newspapers have been full of details of the attack, names of the conspirators and perpetrators. But, the police that once arrested JNU students led by Kanhaiyya Kumar on the basis of doctored videos has not been able to identify a single person involved in the attack, even when their identities are public.

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The closest description of the JNU attack has come from the man who knows a thing or two about violence — Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. He has compared it to the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai. But, at least on that night, several cops had made India proud by putting their lives at stake, taking the bullet on the chest. (One of them, Hemant Karkare, was incidentally “cursed” by BJP parliamentarian Pragya, herself a terror-accused). It would be more fitting to compare the attack on JNU campus to the Kristallnacht (night of broken glass) in Nazi Germany.

The Kuru darbar of today thrives on hate. It revels in deep divisions. It feeds on the deep-seated fears and greed of vulnerable citizens. To keep the fires of hate, anger and fear burning, it pursues the policy of finding new enemies every few days and then indoctrinating forces to take them on. This darbar is the real ‘tukde-tukde’ gang of India — it is pitting Indians against Indians, dividing the country for its petty politics. It is preparing the ground for a Mahabharata — within its own territory, among its own citizens.

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But, a country that starts attacking its own citizens is like a deranged snake eating its own tail. In the end, it annihilates itself with the manic rage. Its destructive-zeal gets accelerated when the sycophants watching it start encouraging it, calling its cannibalistic tendency a glorious feast.

Wasn’t it Lord Krishna who prophesied, every time dharma is harmed, and evil begins to flourish, I shall be born again? If the darbaris of today’s India know our history, mythology and philosophy, they should be really scared of the consequences of their politics.

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