By tweeting that Arundhati Roy should be tied to the Army jeep instead of the alleged stone-pelting miscreant, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Paresh Rawal has not covered himself in glory. What he and the nationalists of his ilk don’t realize is that by such ugly outbursts they are maligning patriotism as well as the country they profess to love.
Rawal tweeted, “Instead of tying stone pelter on the army jeep tie Arundhati Roy!” He also preferred a similar treatment for the journalist Sagarika Ghose. His tweets came after Roy’s alleged recent visit to Srinagar. Thewire.in reports that she didn’t visit Kashmir recently and made no anti-India remarks. However, Geo TV of Pakistan quoted her saying that “New Delhi’s oppression cannot subdue Kashmiri struggle.” Geo TV also reported her as saying that “India cannot achieve its objective in the occupied valley even if its army deployment raises (sic) from 7 lakh to 70 lakh, further adding that Kashmiris have remained committed with their anti-India sentiments from many years.”
Did she go to Kashmir? Did she say what many believe she said? Nothing is clear, and yet there are inflammatory remarks. This is bizarre, to say the least.
To be fair to Rawal and other internet Hindus, what Roy supposedly said in a recent visit to Kashmir was in consonance with her views she has expressed many a time. Be it as it may, why should they make personal remarks against their opponents? For instance, Rawal said, “Her birth certi[ficate] in fact is a regret letter from maternity ward.” Less-known nationalists say even worse things about the people whose views they don’t agree with; references are made to the community, physical appearance, profession, etc.; sexually colored comments are made; often tweets rely solely on profanities.
Quite apart from polluting public discourse, trolling and vituperation discredit the cause of nationalism. Worse, abusive comment against Roy and people of similar persuasion deflects attention from the content of the theorizing and arguments.
This is very unfortunate, because the doctrines and arguments offered by Roy & Co are both dangerous as well as untenable. For example, she supported Afzal Guru, a culprit in the 2001 Parliament attack. In her reckoning, he was innocent. She wrote that his execution satisfied “our collective conscience.” In the wake of the hanging, “the commentators in the studios and the thugs on the streets seemed, like cowards who hunt in packs, to need each other to keep their courage up. Perhaps because, deep inside, themselves they knew they had colluded in doing something terribly wrong.”
Of course, she didn’t explain why we, the people of India, didn’t satisfy our collective conscience in a more wholesome manner. Why, for instance, didn’t we hang the Delhi University teacher for good measure who, by the way, was found guilty by the special trial court? The Delhi High Court overturned his conviction. Why didn’t the Supreme Court overrule the High Court? Why did it take 12 years to hang Guru?
Further, Guru was not a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi; he was a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed, an Islamist organization which has been designated as a terrorist body by the UN and several nations, including India, Australia, Canada, the UAE, the UK, and the US. The organization believes in Islamic supremacy, to be implemented by way of Shariah. It openly stands for the dehumanization of women and subjugation of non-Muslims. This was what the great freedom fighter Afzal Guru stood for; this was the azaadi he wanted to herald in Kashmir.
And Roy has never felt any shame in supporting Guru. Nor has she ever felt any discomfort in eulogizing Maoists or Naxals. Their god, Mao tse-Tung, was arguably the biggest butcher mankind has ever suffered; he was responsible for the death of 70 million people in peacetime. In their Mao: The Unknown Story, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday said that the Chinese leader killed more people than Stalin and Hitler put together. Unsurprisingly, his Indian followers murder cops, paramilitary troopers, and common citizens with impunity; they terrorize people in the vast swathes of India’s poorest areas. But Roy calls them “Gandhians with guns”!
Roy’s fiction may have some merit, but her understanding of politics, economy, history, etc., is pathetic; had it not been her Booker Prize, few would have published her rambling essays and fewer would have bothered to comment upon them. It makes more sense exposing her ignorance and idiocy than threatening to tie her up on an Army jeep.
Internet Hindus should target the dangerous ideas their opponents spread, not the persons of their opponents. It is tough, for it requires a broad knowledge base, if not scholarship, along with poise and articulation. Prominent BJP leaders like Rawal should have taken a lead in this project. However, many of them, including Rawal, have chosen the easy option—of abuse and invective. Unsurprisingly, they disgrace themselves rather than expose their opponents.