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Takeaways from Gogoi's letter and attack on nuns

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Takeaways from Gogois letter and attack on nuns
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The letter written by Akhil Gogoi, social activist jailed in Assam facing sedition charges slapped for participation in the anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) agitation, to his party colleagues in Assam, is an expose with details about the pugnacious posture of the ruling elite. The content of the letter accuses the entire government machinery of having been turned into the sangh parivar line. It was not any leaders of the RSS or the BJP, but the officials of the country's highest investigation agency, the NIA that dangled before him the promise that if he joined the RSS or the BJP he could be released from jail, and would be made a minister in the BJP government that would be formed, together with an offer of Rs 20 crores. Although the letter uncovers how far the investigative arms of the government have become the instruments of the regime to decimate democracy, the national media and the public have been apathetic to the phenomenon with the indifferent reaction that this is all but natural, and after all NIA has denied them. To them, it was destined to end up as a minor item in the inner columns of newspapers.

About the same time of this news came another flash about the incident in which Hindutva extremists attacked four Christian nuns on board a train from Delhi to Rourkela, Odisha. Behind the attack were workers of the BJP's student wing ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad), who were returning from a study camp in Rishikesh. The ABVP workers, predictably trained in the RSS line, alleged that the two novices travelling with the nuns were being led for forced religious conversion, forced all the four out of the train at Jhansi railway station and put them at the mercy of crowd for a mob trial lasting five hours. After the long trial with hooting and brawl by the sangh parivar fanatics, and then a police interrogation, the four hapless nuns had to produce before the police documents certifying that they were baptised in 2003 for being released. However, even this did not make big news for the national media. Union home minister Amit Shah, who was in an election campaign in Kerala, was forced to address the Christian sentiment during an election meeting at Ponkunnam; and had he not said that strict action would be taken against those who insulted the nuns. , the event would have died out without being recorded anywhere worth mention. However, despite Amit Shah's response, the UP government has not taken any steps to register a case or to arrest the culprits.

Both incidents illustrate the kind of state chase and mob trials that are acquiring a 'natural' routine touch. Gogoi's letter tell us that the country's investigating agency has become a feeder entity of the ruling party. And the Jhansi attack makes it clear that the feeder party of the ruling elite has assumed the role of police to maintain 'law and order' . It was the mere presence of two women in ordinary clothes together with two others clad in nun's habit that roused a suspicion in the ABVP volunteers and their yelling that the latter were taking the other two for religious conversion. The fact that forced religious conversion is banned by law in UP is the factor that emboldened the Hindutva extremists to take them out of the train at Jhansi and subject them to mob interrogation. Strangely enough, the police and officials were coming to terms with the mob's assertion that India does not give freedom to travel any place of one's choice or embrace any religion one likes. Luckily they were able to establish their credentials as born Christians by producing their baptism certificates. Or else, they would have been led to the jail fo violating the law banning forced conversion!

There is no right for any one to ask about the religion of co-passengers in a train and to question them on that basis. In the process, what the sangh 'mob' is trying to see negated is the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to propagate or embrace any religion. And if those wielding authority – who are bound to arrest any one found intolerant or behaving fanatically – sink to the level of asking nuns for their baptism certificate, and if this despicable act passes muster as law enforcement, that is a worrisome state of affairs. The BJP governments have elevated frenzied mobs to the level of law enforcers by introducing legislation about religious conversion, love jihad and cow protection. Thus the sangh parivar is leading the nation to a fascist era in which administrative apparatus is turned into party machinery and party outfits into law enforcers. That is the loud message emanating from Assam's jail where Akhil Gogoi is put and the nuns in Jhansi, during this season of elections.

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TAGS:Akhil Gogoi letter from jail state agency inducements mob taking law into hands 
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