Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
Noam Chomsky is one of the
leading peace workers in the world. In the wake of America's attack on Vietnam,
he brought out his classic formulation, 'manufacturing consent'. The phrase
explains the state manipulating public opinion to have the public approve of it
policies—in this case, the attack of the American state on Vietnam, which was
then struggling to free itself from French colonial rule.
In India, we are witness to
manufactured hate against religious minorities. This hatred serves to enhance
polarisation in society, which undermines India's democracy and Constitution
and promotes support for a Hindu nation. Hate is being manufactured through
multiple mechanisms. For example, it manifests in violence against religious
minorities. Some recent ghastly expressions of this manufactured hate was the
massive communal violence witnessed in Mumbai (1992-93), Gujarat (2002),
Kandhamal (2008) and Muzaffarnagar (2013). Its other manifestation was in the
form of lynching of those accused of having killed a cow or consumed beef. A
parallel phenomenon is the brutal flogging, often to death, of Dalits who deal
with animal carcasses or leather.
Yet another form of this was
seen when Shambhulal Regar, indoctrinated by the propaganda of Hindu
nationalists, burned alive Afrazul Khan and shot the video of the heinous act.
For his brutality, he was praised by many. Regar was incited into the act by
the propaganda around love jihad. Lately, we have the same phenomenon of
manufactured hate taking on even more dastardly proportions as youth related to
Hindu nationalist organisations have been caught using pistols, while police
authorities look on.
Anurag Thakur, a BJP minster in
the central government recently incited a crowd in Delhi to complete his chant
of what should happen to 'traitors of the country..." with a "they should be
shot". Just two days later, a youth brought a pistol to the site of a protest
at Jamia Millia Islamia university and shouted "take Azaadi!" and fired it. One
bullet hit a student of Jamia. This happened on 30 January, the day Nathuram
Godse had shot Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. A few days later, another youth fired
near the site of protests against the CAA and NRC at Shaheen Bagh. Soon after,
he said that in India, "only Hindus will rule".
What is very obvious is that the
shootings by those associated with Hindu nationalist organisations are the
culmination of a long campaign of spreading hate against religious minorities
in India in general and against Muslims in particular. The present phase is the
outcome of a long and sustained hate campaign, the beginning of which lies in
nationalism in the name of religion; Muslim nationalism and Hindu nationalism.
This sectarian nationalism picked up the communal view of history and the
communal historiography which the British introduced in order to pursue their 'divide and rule' policy.
In India what became part of "social common sense" was that Muslim kings had destroyed Hindu temples, that
Islam was spread by force, and that it is a foreign religion, and so on.
Campaigns, such as the one for a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Rama to be
built at the site where the Babri masjid once stood, further deepened the idea
of a Muslim as a "temple-destroyer". Aurangzeb, Tipu Sultan and other Muslim
kings were tarnished as the ones who spread Islam by force in the subcontinent.
The tragic Partition, which was primarily due to British policies, and was
well-supported by communal streams also, was entirely attributed to Muslims.
The Kashmir conflict, which is the outcome of regional, ethnic and other
historical issues, coupled with the American policy of supporting Pakistan's
ambitions of regional hegemony, (which also fostered the birth of Al-Qaeda),
was also attributed to the Muslims.
With recurring incidents of
communal violence, these falsehoods went on going deeper into the social
thinking. Violence itself led to ghettoisation of Muslims and further broke
inter-community social bonds. On the one hand, a ghettoised community is cut
off from others and on the other hand the victims come to be presented as
culprits. The percolation of this hate through word-of-mouth propaganda, media
and re-writing of school curricula, had a strong impact on social attitudes
towards the minorities.
In the last couple of decades,
the process of manufacturing hate has been intensified by the social media
platforms which are being cleverly used by the communal forces. Swati
Chaturvedi's book, I Am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of
the BJP's Digital Army,
tells us how the BJP used social media to spread hate. Whatapp University
became the source of understanding for large sections of society and hate for
the 'Other', went up by leaps and bounds. To add on to this process, the
phenomenon of fake news was shrewdly deployed to intensify divisiveness.
Currently, the Shaheen Bagh
movement is a big uniting force for the country; but it is being demonised as a
gathering of 'anti-nationals'. Another BJP leader has said that these
protesters will indulge in crimes like rape. This has intensified the prevalent
While there is a general
dominance of hate, the likes of Shambhulal Regar and the Jamia shooter do get
taken in by the incitement and act out the violence that is constantly hinted
at. The deeper issue involved is the prevalence of hate, misconceptions and
biases, which have become the part of social thinking.
These misconceptions are undoing
the amity between different religious communities which was built during the
freedom movement. They are undoing the fraternity which emerged with the
process of India as a nation in the making. The processes which brought these
communities together broadly drew from Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar. It is
these values which need to be rooted again in the society. The communal forces
have resorted to false propaganda against the minorities, and that needs to be
undone with sincerity.
Combating those foundational
misconceptions which create hatred is a massive task which needs to be taken up
by the social organisations and political parties which have faith in the
Indian Constitution and values of freedom movement. It needs to be done right
away as a priority issue in with a focus on cultivating Indian fraternity yet
The author is a social
activist and commentator. The views are personal.