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The jingles of 'Modiraj'; Dr Shah Alam Khan’s ‘Announcing The Monster’


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Shouldn’t the Rajasthan chief minister, Ashok Gehlot  have the Pehlu Khan lynching case re-opened and with that,  re-examined? Yes, he should.  So that the murdered man and his family get justice and also that his killers are not bailed out and allowed to roam about scot-free, as they are doing now.

I’m simply appalled and amazed at the very turn of events.  Short of having the dead man’s broken bones and frame (that is, whatever remains of that!) dug out from his grave, every effort seems on by the state machinery to further dent and destroy the already battered and shattered Pehlu Khan family.  What, with the latest news of the arrest orders against his sons.  Imagine, the murdered victim’s sons are booked and the murderers are out on bail!

The least that the present day Congress government in Rajasthan ought to do is to have the Pehlu  Khan case  re- studied so that the  message gets relayed to the masses that those  lynched by the Right- wing  goons  will not  get re-lynched  by the  State machinery.

In fact, this brings me to focus on another extremely dangerous trend:  law-makers turning brutally violent and  then sitting justifying the brute use of  force and authority they yield!  The way Akash Vijayvargiya used a  bat to thrash  a municipal corporation officer in  Indore should have  called for his immediate dismissal from the world of politics,  yet the  man was arrested  and imprisoned only briefly  before  getting  bailed  out and then garlanded and  made out to be some sort of hero! With media attention unmoving from him he came up with those strangely unapologetic statements-   "I am not guilty or embarrassed about what I did as it was in public interest…”

Of course let us not bypass the fact that Akash happens to be the son of Kailash Vijayvargiya, the BJP's Bengal campaign in-charge in the national election, and who managed to get away with the supposed crime of  hitting a government  official on  duty - amply justifying it too.  Shouldn’t such a violent man be stripped of all his perks and power and made to sit in a prison-cell hole!

Now, of course, comes Prime Minister’ Modi’s statement along the strain that stern action ought to be taken against such violent political characters like Akash Vijayyargiya.  But isn’t it time the prime minister’s statement gets translated into action?  The sooner the better.  So that the other legislators and parliamentarians do not go about armed with bats and bricks to settle the so-called crisis moments in every day governance. Not to be overlooked is the fact that a large percentage of the parliamentarians and  legislators have crimes and criminal charges fitted against their names. And ah yes , a terror  accused also sits in the Parliament!

Another Book on these dark times: Dr Shah Alam Khan’s ‘Announcing The Monster’

I had first heard Dr Shah Alam Khan on the small screen.  As far as I can recollect,  it was a panel discussion on NDTV on controversies around the hip replacement implants imported by a leading medical company.   And he was giving his expert opinion.  After all, he is a Professor of Orthopaedics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS, New Delhi)… But  before I move  further,  I must  offload that  what I  liked about his arguments was his  sheer  confidence;  that certain firmness and  grit  in his  voice came through, as he was speaking out in that discussion.  He came across as much more than a medical man;  more of a passionate activist who dared to talk aloud, irrespective of the  aftermath.

Months after this programme was telecast,  came a surprise of sorts, as there came Dr Shah Alam Khan’s novel –Man With The White Beard.  A strong hard hitting work (Nah, can’t say of pure fiction!).  And after that  I  kept   track of his  writings in the  various national  dailies and  online platforms, where he has  been writing;  focusing on the  political degeneration and all the mess that  invariably comes along with  that.

In fact, this latest book from him – ‘Announcing The Monster’ ( Aakar)  carries his features and essays.  To quote him – “Announcing the Monster is a collection of more than sixty essays written on various aspects of the  so called ‘ New  India’ which we saw  emerge after the  May 2014 general elections.  This  new  India, is  fiercely  religious, murderously  sensitive to a cow carcass, unknowing  of the  poor,  but  knowing of the interests of the rich and  powerful.  The country  threw  many  horrors, many  trepidations, and many  stories which were  interesting and  horrible enough to  write upon .The  period  between 2014  and  2019  saw unprecedented changes in our social and  political  life.  A  remarkable change in this regard was the gradual  erosion of the  freedom of expression and right to  dignity and life, all under the  watchful eye of the regime.”

Yes,  each one of his essays  focuses on the  eerie  political  build- ups and  offshoots  spreading around , affecting you and me. Though I am tempted to quote  rather extensively  from several of his  hard-hitting essays ,  space constraints come in the  way,  so it's  best  if I quote on the very  crucial ‘why’ he  decided to  unleash words,  such an  array of strong  sentiments, “ The  Marxist theorist, Rosa Luxemburg, had once said that  those who  do not  move, do not  notice their chains.  Nothing can be closer to the truth, particularly in societies which ‘normalize’ chains, instead of  neutralizing them.  It is  thus  essential  to make the  correct   noises at the correct time and if  need  be all the time … In my  opinion one of the best ways to create  noises is through the  written word.  When all is said and done, words will survive to tell the story of our times. The rough jangle of chains which  Rosa Luxemburg mentioned, can  reach the ears of  history through  words and  hence it is  essential that we etch our times on paper….Announcing The  Monster is one such  effort to  put on record some aspects of  India’s social, political , and  economic   history  during the  times of  ‘ Modi Raj’, a period extending  between May 2014 to May 2019.  There are the whispers of blood and the pleading  of the bone marrow.”

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