The constitutional fabric of this country is under threat, for now is the age of information wars with far-right ideologies spewing venom perpetuating “US vs THEM”. I wake up every day with a never before felt anxiety of having existed and merely born as a ‘Muslim’. Disillusionment of a reality created by a political climate infused by party propaganda. The fact and act no longer renders any meaning but the identification of a particular side of truth that reaffirms one’s ideology is what the war of Information hinges.
The propaganda machinery works day in and out fuelling hatred creating the enemy ‘other’. This is what I have been witnessing since past one year for merely having Aligarh Muslim University as my Alma Mater. The lockdown happened and I moved to my hometown Moradabad. I haven’t been politically active on social media but since I have witnessed state brutality by merely being present in the Anti-CAA-NRC protests, I have been pretty vocal. People who used to be my friends, mostly upper-class Hindus have started to attack me. It’s every day that a personal hell is unleashed.
Folks sending me WhatsApp forwards of the very obvious Muslim looking people violating the lockdown and accusing me of siding with the traitors. Funny what has become of this idiot nation that even after my consistently sharing Quint’s webqoof and Altnews fact checks, they don’t seem to rest. It took me a while to realise it’s not even about distinguishing the real from the fake. It’s more about asserting one’s ideology being symbolized through a psyche created by the propaganda. They identify with it, it’s that indoctrinated corrupt self-gaining momentum.
Fascism as we know it has used propaganda as a successful tool to get masses on their side. What remains of the people in my town where there is a lack of political consciousness, are saffronised herds who have idealised the ruling party to an extent of Godly madness. Rape threats and harassment of whoever happens to be critical of it is now the new normal; while the calls of a Hindu Rashtra are gaining momentum with Twitter’s bot campaigns.
The violence in parts of North-east Delhi, attacks on Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University will not be forgotten. The irony is that the state forces are now spineless puppets, whatever happened to the values that shine through the State emblem, “Satyameva Jayate” (Truth alone triumphs).
The guy who casually walked around with a gun with the Police chilling in the background and the provocative speeches by the ministers of the ruling party. The chest-thumping threats of the far-right trolling and harassing women for having a voice of their own. The apathy around such traumatic events happening at such an alarming pace have been registered and sedimented into our consciousness. None will be forgotten.
What bothers me about this inhuman normalization is how this grave human rights violation go unregistered and rendered acceptable. Mainstream media is giving birth to criminals that the unaware masses happen to trust for getting their daily feed. Events happening under the disillusionment of an opaque reality where one fails to see the violent act or fact, or at least not as violent or the least of it justified and distorted. There is this ideological mystification wherein the usage of certain words and images are used to conceal, distort, or sanitise information.
There’s this very interesting take that I juxtaposed from the Slovenian theorist, Slavoj Žižek and his conceptualisation of the “Theft of Enjoyment”, with his reference to an anti-Semite analysis of a “Jew”, for the Nazi but in context of the current Indian Polity. It is now the “Muslim”.
The ‘Conceptual Jihadi/Muslim/infiltrator’, or the Muslim race, is a figure invented and presented as the enemy that contravenes the law and must be punished and eventually eradicated so that a new harmonious ‘Hindu’ state can then emerge. Precisely because they possess wealth, power and influence. But more importantly, by possessing that they are depriving the Hindu Supremacist of their desired rightful position in the society.
The figure of the ‘conceptual Jihadi/Muslim/infiltrator’ is a precondition for the Hindutva Ideology to sustain itself. For any authoritarian regime to work, the active participation and support of the population is required, else, the regime will collapse. Reasons for how the population comes to identify with the ideology is where the superego imperative of the enjoyment comes in. The insecurity of the rightful position usurped or the theft of enjoyment by the ‘conceptual Muslim/infiltrator’ is the logic behind the ideology followed by a chain of self-compulsion and primitively conditioned notion of natural self-determination.
The events of the past that have been distorted by the insecure hunt through the motion of history straining on the rhetoric of natural self-determination are backed up by some supra-human law. The figure of an enemy ‘Other’ is invented to reason the irrationality of Hindutva Ideology giving it consistency. The Hindutva propaganda injects the portrayal of Muslims as less than Human (Jihadi, Terrorist, infiltrator) in the collective consciousness to finally justify their acts whatever they might be. The dualistic process whereby dehumanising the Muslims is accompanied by the inflation of their long-standing power, influence and strength. It is those sheer insecure sentiments that the ruling party has successfully managed to capitalize on. It worked though, there’s this pervasive fear around us, around schools, universities, workplaces and on the roads.
The Pandemic is now being used to silence the dissent. Student activists are being picked up for barely voicing their dissent. Safoora Zargar is incarcerated irrespective of her pregnancy. While Twitter is flooded with far-right misogynists with their casual harassment and revenge plots. Ironically, the state has prioritised silencing dissent over the helpless plea of the migrant workers, over the wailing child waking his dead mother. The average public is okay tripping on the hippie haze created by their beloved “Pradhan Sevak”.
Varisha Sami is a Philosophy Major at Aligarh Muslim University. She writes on issues concerning Peace Research, Philosophy and Art. She tweets @varisha2206