BJP MPs’ Night Out — A Suggested Itinerary

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The MPs of the Bhartiya Janata Party, having exhausted themselves with the sheer physical effort of passing the annual budget without any discussion and resisting any debate on the two non-confidence motions, have now been given a furlough by Mr. Modi: they have been asked to spend some nights in Dalit villages lest there is a catastrophic run on their vote banks. I am heartened by the PM’s new found empathy for those at the bottom of the caste heap and would therefore like to suggest three places they should visit, where they can see at first hand the new India they are building. I shall take the liberty of addressing our Hon’ MPs in the first person: a citizen of India is still entitled to do so, right?

[1] Rasana village in Kathua district of Jammu. A little girl was gang raped and murdered here on 13th January 2018. I’m aware she’s not important for the MPs because she was a nomadic Bakarwal Muslim (though she herself was too young, perhaps, to even know which religion she belonged to). But don’t worry, you won’t be tainted by any contact with this community on your visit because there are only four Bakarwal families in this village, and even they have moved out because of the fear psychosis created. And yet they posed such a great “threat” to the Hindus there that the little tot had to be massacred to make an example! You may like to find out why and whether your venomous ideology had anything to do with it?

I realise that you folks are very busy people, and that Rasana is a god-forsaken place, seven miles from any road and cannot provide you gentlemen the comforts you are used to on such visits (usually paid for by the PSUs under your government). But do tarry in the village a little while and visit a few spots. Go to the dharmasthan where the little, helpless girl was confined and raped for seven days; after uttering the obligatory “Jai Shri Ram” do reflect briefly on the uses to which religion is being put to these days. Visit next her pathetic make-shift grave, make-shift because the local residents would not allow her battered body to be buried in the Bakerwala graveyard – ask the local worthies whether an eight year old child is just as dangerous dead as alive? If you have the time take in also the clump of bushes where her body was found with a torn vagina and her head battered out of shape.

Then, and only then, should you go to Kathua and ask your supporters – the Hindu Ekta Manch and the lawyers – why they are preventing the Jammu police from filing a charge-sheet and taking action against the accused. Have they been emboldened by the complicit silence of people like you and your leaders in Delhi? Pick up the phone and talk to your two Ministers in the Mehbooba govt – Chandan Prakash Gupta and Lal Singh – and ask them whether they too have daughters or not and whether they think that “Beti padhao, Beti bachao” is just a slogan, or whether (worse still) it does not apply to Muslim girls. Take the trouble of dialling again, this time Mehbooba herself, and ask her why it took her a week to sack them from her Cabinet ? An awkward question, I know, because if you extend this logic then most of your Ministers in other BJP ruled states would have to pack their bags too- like that non-entity in Madhya Pradesh, Nand Kumar Chauhan, who last week claimed that the murder was the handiwork of Pakistan! What would your party do, I wonder, if it could not blame Pakistan for everything that goes wrong?

[2] But wait! Don’t go back to Lutyen’s Delhi yet – see a bit of Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh first. Your next visit should be to Makhi village of Unnao District in UP where another chapter of Yogi Adityanath’s mis-rule is playing out. By now, gentlemen, it should not surprise you that rape and murder is the primary motif here too, or that defending the accused is the overwhelming priority of the Chief Minister. A young girl was allegedly raped by the local MLA ten months ago, she named him in her complaint but the police, good lap dogs that they are, did nothing. Earlier this month, therefore, she tried to immolate herself before the CM’s residence in protest. And here’s the amusing bit (since I know you find all this quite funny) – her father was arrested for allegedly possessing an unlicensed weapon, beaten up by the police and the MLA’s brother, and died. The govt. refused to arrest this “mahabali” MLA; the CBI did so only on Saturday when the Allahabad High Court threatened to order the arrest itself..So here’s the first question you can ask this saintly Chief Minister: Is this his concept of Ram Rajya? Where a person with a weapon is arrested immediately but a criminal politician with rape and murder charges against him is not touched for ten months ? You could perhaps suggest to him that he should declare UP a national park and a conservation area for political criminals under the Wildlife Protection Act. These animals are not endangered, of course (they are thriving) and this may pose a problem, but I’m sure the PMO can resolve this little issue, perhaps by changing the definition of animals.

You will note in this whole sorry episode that the victim’s family is neither Muslim, nor Christian, nor Dalit – just an ordinary Hindu rural family. And this is the bit that you can report with pride to Mr. Amit Shah when you go back to that grand new BJP office in New Delhi – that the Yogi is a truly secular person; he does not target minorities only, even Hindus are grist to his mill, provided, of course, they are poor, vulnerable and have daughters his MLAs can take a fancy to. You can also report to Mr. Modi that making Yogi Adithyanath Chief Minister was a master-stroke, for he has made UP the sanctum sanctorum for all BJP politicians with criminal cases – not only has he withdrawn a case against himself, he is in the process of withdrawing criminal cases against dozens of others, including an ex Union Minister accused of – you guessed it – rape. Indeed, the visit to Unnao will be an eye-opener for all of you, and you have much to be proud of.

[3] By now, of course, you must be desperate to get back to Delhi and the kababs of Moti Mahal. But persist for just one more day if you will and take a short detour to Nizampur village of Kasganj district of western UP – after all the PM did exhort you to go to a Dalit village, did he not? Nizampur is one such village, with 7 Dalit families out of 65 houses: the upper caste Thakurs dominate here. You will be relieved (and no doubt surprised) to learn that the bone of contention here is neither a rape nor a murder nor an absconding MLA. The story here is much more primeval – an educated, young , aware Dalit couple who are getting married next month want to take out their marriage (baraat) procession through the village and the Thakurs will not let them. Another matter of some hilarity for you, no doubt, when juxtaposed with your PM’s ad nauseam reiteration that we are the fastest growing economy in the world – but for the Dalits here it is literally a matter of life and death. The Thakurs, all your supporters, have already imposed a complete social and economic boycott on the Dalit families here. On your gracious visit to the village, therefore, you may like to prevail upon them to restore to the Dalits the drinking and irrigation water they have cut off, open the public toilets which they used and which have now been locked, forcing the Dalits to defecate in their own houses, restore the electricity to their houses. You may lose some votes of the Thakurs, undoubtedly, but think of it this way: for how long can you flog the ghost (or statue) of Dr. Ambedkar and allow persecution of his Dalits at the same time? Oh! I almost forgot – while exiting Nizampur, you may like to offer a special word of praise (and maybe a recommendation for an out of turn promotion) to the District Magistrate of Kasganj who publicly endorsed the Thakurs by stating that processions are not an integral part of Hindu marriages! In private, of course, you can remind him of Shivji ki baraat, and advise him to emulate our Prime Minister in maintaining silence at all times.

This then is the suggested itinerary, taking in the microcosm of the promised ‘acche din’. I am hoping that all of you honourable folks will return wiser and sadder men – but I’m not counting on it. By the time you return to Delhi your national leaders will have started crawling out of the woodwork, spouting their customary inane clitches about the guilty being punished. The Prime Minister has already flagged off this bout of platitudinous diarrhoea with his usual proforma, ex-post facto statements on the 13th, realising that constipated silence was no longer an option. We wish you well on your return with the hope that you realise how fortunate you are – you can go back to your plush govt. bungalows, but you leave behind at least three families who have been either driven out of their habitations or are terrified of continuing to live there. And remember the words of the poet:

Ek ansoo bhi hukumat ke liye khatra hai,
Tumne dekha nahi ansoo ka samundar hona

Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains.....he has made them his home. He blogs at http://avayshukla.blogspot.in/

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