– Vidya Bhushan Rawat
This last day of October reminds us the brutal assassination of the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi, by her own security guards who were supposed to protect her. Since June 1984 when Indira Gandhi ordered ‘Operation Bluestar’ at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikh feelings were tremendously hurt but there was no attempt to assuage the feelings. Somehow every Sikh became a ‘terrorist’ and victim of the sinister campaign to humiliate him. I still feel, those times were much better than today because we did not have these goons who threaten people from their newsrooms and instigate violence against them. Can you imagine, what would have been the role of this media in a powerful government of Rajiv Gandhi. Doordarshan was showing the dead body of Mrs Gandhi for many days as people were shouting slogan : Khoon Ka Badla Khoon se lenge..
as Indiraji brought colour TV revolution to India, people watched the entire thing on their TV screens and were being fed with all the sarkaari reports every moments. It was perhaps the first 24×7 ‘spectacle’ for the TV media to extend its outreach as for a few days newspaper sale increased and in smaller places where we used to live, newspaper would be sold off before reaching the homes.
There was only doordarshan and All India Radio. They were doing their duty but there were no shouting party spokesperson inside the studio like what we are witnessing in these times, who would have launched a direct campaign against the Sikhs. The media that time was silently and was just doing its duty as per the government order. Doordarshan-Akashwani would stop all the programmes and we would just listen some classical music but on Indira Gandhi’s assassination day, till the evening 6 pm, everything was shut. We were depending on the external sources like BBC which had declared that she was shot dead but there was no official word about it. Though she was shot at her home in the morning time around 9 am, the official announcement of her death came at 6 pm on radio and television simultaneously. When I imagine what would have happened if Indira ji was in todays time or if there were all these 24×7 TV channels.
Violence erupted or was made to erupt by the goons of the Congress party but it was not merely an issue of Congress. In her death, Indira Gandhi had become or was projected as a Great Hindu leader killed by the Sikhs. So subsequent days, we saw, a ‘Hindu’ outrage, though we conveniently called it Congress goons but it was not so. Congress had become the Hindu party, a party of the Hindu sentiments, whose leader was called and Rajiv Gandhi called her Bharat Mata in his first broad-caste to the nation.
The violence or pogrom whatever we call as the state of India completely abdicated its duty. The goons whether Congress Party or any other sympathizer, whether Hindus or not, had complete protection from the administration and its police. It was like a ‘national’ ‘resolve’ to ‘teach’ Sikh a lesson. Innocent children lost their parents. We never saw such brutality since partition of India. Butchering of families. The Home Minister P V Narsimha Rao sat silently allowing the goons to do all the things and police remaining quiet. All over the country, there was a pattern, whisper campaign against Sikhs as if they killed Mrs Gandhi. This is a serious question to ponder over. Why we blame the entire community if the some crime is done under their name. Muslims have been punished for that, Dalits, too and Sikh got punishment because the murderer of Indira Gandhi happened to be Sikh. But the murderer of Rajiv Gandhi were Hindus while that of Gandhi were Brahmin but we never saw that kind of isolation and condemnation of the communities. It means, that the dominant define the discourse who to vilify and who to glorify. That is why, Gandhi’s murderers are still being glorified and nothing happen to them.
Today when we moan the brutal murder of Indira Gandhi, remember her legacy, we can not keep our eyes shut that the Sikhs were butchered and murdered in the aftermath of her assassination were a complete abdication of the state Rajdharma. It was a project Hindu Rashtra, this time under Rajiv’s Congress where Sikhs were vilified and Rajiv became symbol of Hindu Asmita. If we are living in these terrible time when Indian state apparatus has turned brahmanical then the project started since the return of Indira Gandhi in 1980. It got strengthened in her unfortunate assassination in 1984. India is paying a heavy price today for the games that the Congress played during this period in the absence of fighting the issue ideologically, it tried to sail through the same boat of communal polarisation which resulted in massive mandate for Rajiv Gandhi but victory of the Hindu Rashtra. Subsequently, Rajiv’s flirtation and Congress’s complete ideological bankruptcy paved the way for the Hindutva forces whose cherished dream to rule India was realised in May 2014 and second mandate of 2019, they have further strengthened their position.
Today is the day to not merely remember Mrs Gandhi and her contribution to our polity but also Congress’es failure to fight communal forces ideologically by virtually becoming the B team of Hindutva, resulting in the legitimacy and ascendancy of the hate mongers in the power structure.