Saturday, March 2, 2024

Demonization of dissent

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 

The aforementioned quote alludes to the unequivocal fact that power is directly proportional to depravity. It also accentuates the appalling actuality of excessive power and it’s inequitable impact on humanity.

It is no surprise that power exercised by politicians plays a stupendous role in shaping the socio-economic framework of a country. There is no getting around the fact that, in a country like India, religion is a raw nerve and for a long time, Indian bureaucracy has been brewing strategies to create a wedge between the Hindus and the Muslims for their political progression. They subtly use these strategies for their ulterior motive which in turn cause unrest in the country. In doing so, they are blatantly blotting the secular fabric of our democracy and are hell bent on hollowing the very foundation of our secular Constitution. 

Our so-called leaders are least interested in working towards the upliftment of the society. Rather, the government’s focal point is to eradicate vociferous activists and just journalists who dig facts and divulge the distorted news. There is a long list of outspoken activists, academics, journalists and, recently added, comedians who are being vilified by the Hindutva fascist leaders. The reason being, the government sees them as a threat. The Muslim comedian Munawwar Faruqui has been dragged under the umbrella of Hindu extremism and Islamophobia. It was impermissible for him to perform standup after the cancellation of his shows 16 times in a row . It goes without saying that he is simply being attached for being an opinionated Muslim, walking with his chin up.

Media, being the fourth pillar of democracy, has a big role to play in propagating malicious propaganda and pushing a false narrative on minorities and marginalized people in the country. It is used as a deleterious catalyst by governing leaders to outrun the opposition and gain public advocacy. The most worrisome thing about media controlling the type of content we consume is not what sort of content they share but the content that is omitted from being amplified by the mainstream media. To add to this, in a desperate attempt to magnify the area of authority, politicians leave no stone unturned in misusing the platform of social media as well to turn the situation to their advantage. It is as plain as a pikestaff that weaponization of media, social networking sites and demonization of dissent is causing negative reinforcement which is leading India on the road to oppression. 

It is undebatable that the hubris of unscrupulous political parties is accountable for our dysfunctional democracy and political legitimacy crisis. For they cannot stand denunciation of their immoral methods. In lieu of taking it as constructive criticism, the easiest way for politicians to change the tangent of any criticism is making it religion-centric. Speaking of religion, Muslims are misrepresented by the media unabashedly by adulterating their speeches and their values. Not to mention, every move of media is sanctioned by the centre. Simply put, the government is depriving Muslims of their right to practice any profession, freedom of speech and right to life with dignity. 

Under BJP rule, unethical acts of disseminating communal hatred are being celebrated flagrantly and the culpable are roaming around freely. It is rather conspicuous that the Indian government is not good at governing whatsoever and is too fragile to handle cogent criticism which is inching our country towards the abyss of authoritarianism. The situation is going haywire wherein open lynching and exploitation of the marginalized community is the new normal. If activists try to lacerate the skewed functioning and incompetence of the government by stating facts, they are explicitly labelled as anti-national and are charged with sedation. This is how muslim voices are muffled and dissent is being demonised in the world’s largest democracy. Ironically, the citizen who is not a part of Hindutva ecosystem cannot simply exercise the basic human rights.

The current situation of India is very much similar to that of a pendulum swinging between the scrimmage  of the right-wing and the left-wing. Sadly, the innocent citizens are bearing the brunt of it all. This pendulum of politics has put India under an undeclared emergency wherein the leaders are reluctant to take the liability of the rampant lawlessness.Their calculative move to malign dissidents is proof enough of exploitation of power which is the prime cause of political legitimacy crisis. Moreover, the authorities are not taking any austere action against the miscreants but are busy penalizing student activists, rights activists, comedians for a crime that they haven’t even committed. They are simply mirroring their malevolent moves. Having said that, the only thing that the government is good at is burying their heads in the sand and escaping accountability which is causing irreparable damage to our democracy.

Our corrupt leaders ought to understand that where there is domination, there is resistance. Fun fact is that they are very well cognizant of the might of dissent. They know that only dissent can vanquish and overthrow unjust regimes. This is what frightens them the most in the wake of which they are sparing no effort in suppressing dissent by hook or by crook. Their amiss attitude is proof enough of their insecurity about their position.

This prompts one pertinent question that says- Where are we, as a country, headed with an insecure body of government that is vying to secure their seat rather than focussing on the country’s progress?

Any person with a pragmatic point of view would say that we are digging our own graves by denying the depravity of an unjust regime that is putting our future at stake in the name of religion. Under no circumstances should a person be robbed of their rights in a democracy but just for the sake of sustaining their power, BJP leaders are violating that very essence of democracy.

Taking the recent events of deliberate suppression and scapegoating of Muslims that goes unattended into consideration, quelling this feud of religion seems an insurmountable task. It is pretty palpable that politics has taken over public interest. It is another big reminder of the fact that if you are an Indian Muslim, you have to pay a price because your identity acts as an albatross around your neck.

Ilma Mujeeb
Ilma Mujeeb
Ilma Mujeeb is an independent journalist and a student in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
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