The legacy of hate

Was Bala Sahab's death really a national loss?

COMMENT

HASSAN ZAINAGAIRI

 Bal Thackeray and Shiv Sena: the very mention of the supremo and the organization he floated in sixties visualize the politics of fear, culture of violence, toxicity of intolerance and jaundice of exclusiveness. His consistency in preaching hate and practicing terror draws him close to Hitler and his party workers to Nazis. He was an open admirer of Adolf Hitler. He also supported late prime Minister Indhra Gandhi for her Emergency which sounded death knell to civil rights and dissension.
 The cartoonist-turned politician which started his political career as a bully intimidating  south Indians and exacted Hafta  as protection money from them. Soon Gujaratees, Biharees, UP-ites were forked into the xenophobic fold. As an effective tool of industrialists and corporations Thackeray let loose his Saniks against Communists and trade unions. Minorities, in particular Muslims, were his special target. He used his newspaper, Samna to cultivate an image of the defender of Hindus and protector of ethnic Maharashtrians. Vilification of Islam and intimidation of Muslims featured in his hubris-driven editorials. He made it point that no one raise his head against him and attempted to rule Mumbai by fear. Unleashing his terror brigade he monopolized terror on streets and ensured nothing appear in books, media, or on screen against his hate politics.
 For his brand of politics reaching epidemic proportion and his ‘tiger’ image stature remain intact the brand of democracy practiced by various “secular” governments in Mumbai and Delhi played their part too. Going soft on Thackeray lionized him and made him think he is inviolable and unassailable. The lack of courage by different organs of the sate to catch the “tiger” and make him accountable emboldened him to improvise violence and convert Gujarat into laboratory for his pernicious ideology. He learnt, as he grew with the incapacitated law-enforcing system, that more he would make the violence routine, more the dread of his would get encrypted in the psyche of the people. And the sense of outrage against the violence would cease to the benefit of the “tiger”.
 True election Commission in 1999 struck off Thackeray’s name from the voters' list and barred him from contesting election for six years for using religion for votes, but he continued to hold power in remote. The role of Thackeray in one of India’s most shameful episodes, the carnage of Muslims in Mumbai in 1992-1993, following demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, is known to all. Shri Krishna Commission holds Thackeray and Shiv Sena squarely responsible for co-ordinating and supervising the riots. ‘There is no doubt’, the report says, ‘that the Shiv Sena and Shiv Saniks took the lead in organizing attacks on Muslims and their properties under the guidance of several leaders of Shiv Sena from the level of Shaka Pramukh to the Shiv Sena Pramukh Bal Thackeray who, like the veteran General, commanded his loyal Shiv Saniks to retaliate by organizing attacks against Muslims’. 
 The report also indicted Maharashtra police for its dubious role it played in aiding and abetting Saniks to do the violence. Nearly one thousand Muslims were killed and suffered colossal damage in property. But no action has been taken by the state on the report. Far from being remorseful on the blood-bath, Thackeray swelled in pride for what he and his Saniks did.
 The world of Indian media, political establishment and the charming celebrityhood all have expressed grief and shock on the death of “Bala Saheb”, while at the same time his “greatness” has been marveled in the epithets like ‘Godfather’, ‘tiger’, ‘Mumbai icon’, ‘hero’ and ‘Bala Saheb’. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, mourning the death of Thackeray, described it ‘great loss’ to India. Parliament also paid him great tributes.
 Thackeray left a legacy of hate while vilifying and targeting some particular ethnic, religious and political groups forms a legitimate part of politics. This legacy of communal and anti-minority venom the financial capital of India inherited, hours after Thackeray’s death, when two girls, Shaheen and Renu, were arrested by the police and their properties vandalized, for the “crime” of posting an innocuous comment on the Facebook like: ‘here many people like Thackeray die everyday. Should Mumbai then shut like this.
 With army of Shiv (Shiv Sena) on streets, people scrambled home, shopkeepers pulled down shutters, cinemas called off screen, streets got emptied of people. Thus Mumbai shuts on Thackeray’s death. Because of “respect”.
 That Godfather of such a legacy was draped in the Indian tricolor and was given a state funeral with gun salute does not augur well for the ‘secular’ character of India. To borrow from Rohit Chopra’s line from his article: ‘and it is a disgrace that none of our political leaders, celebrities or media seem to think any of this is a disgrace’.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 29 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 29 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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