Where is society heading?

Violent Sense Vs Moral Sensibility

By Poonam I Kaushish

Violence is the rhetoric of the times. Pick any newspaper. Any day. Splashes of social schism gore into news headlines. Massacres, murders, gang rapes, and dowry deaths. Even the most gruesome violence shocks no more. Wherein, brutality and beastiality have become synonymous in modern India. Welcome the Ugly Debauched Intolerant Indian!

Last week a little known Amritpal Singh, erstwhile truck driver from Dubai now pro-Khalistani leader hit national headlines for all the wrong reasons. His band of followers who call themselves ‘Waris Punjab De’ stormed the Ajnala police station despite prohibitory orders, broke through security cordons, clashed with police, fought pitched street battles using kirpans, spears and swords and laid siege: all for an extraordinary demand: Release Amritpal’s aide Toofan accused of abduction, rioting, criminal intimidation etc. Worse, it was done leveraging Guru Granth Sahib carried by protestors which forced police to hold fire.

Amritpal’s sudden rise is mysterious and ominous. He styles himself as Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala, separatist leader who was killed in Operation Blue Star 1984. Vocal on social media since 2015 he made joint appearances on Clubhouse with Deep Sidhu who too flirted with Khalistan idea and set-up ‘Waris Punjab De’ but died last year. Post his death, Amritpal took over reigns of the organization, gathering a following via his radical Khalistan talk calling Sikh youth to get ready for the “next war,” through his Amrit Prachar.

This is unsettling for Punjab with a stormy past of violent insurrection and separatism where the primacy of rule of law was re-established at great cost and sacrifice. Today radical elements are trying to make a comeback riding on public disaffection on joblessness, rising poverty and drug menace.

Next, Delhi’s Civic Centre descended into hooliganism, vandalism and chaos as AAP and BJP councillors pushed and exchanged blows, hurled plastic bottles, threw half-eaten apples, chairs, mikes at each other, broke the podium, smashed glass paper-stands, tore ballot papers during election of MCD’s Standing Committee entire night Friday.

Blistering scenes which strip India of all balance, open-mindedness, equilibrium and tolerance. Am I shocked? Not at all, graze a car and you could be shot dead, nobody sees red at the sight of blood. Even if some blood is spilled in an ever-populated nation, what difference does it make? Recently, three women were brutally murdered, their body parts cut and stored in a freezer to be scattered or burnt, two others dragged 10 kms by drunk men in cars, yet not a wimp of a public outcry.

Seven rapes occur every minute across the country so what’s the big deal? Murders are committed in broad daylight in busy thoroughfares, it’s difficult to distinguish between a bahubali, mafia don and a neta as all are rolled into one, an 80-year-old grandpa deflowers an innocent five-year-old in Haryana et al.

Clearly, the level of poison and aggression coursing through political and social India injecting venom in citizens is worrisome and fraught with serious ramifications. Certainly they have plenty to be angry about. Unemployment, rising prices, inflation, lawlessness etc. Two, polarization thanks to technology and social media is more extreme than any physical ghettoisation.

Underscoring, violent inputs across society starting with rabid politics of hate, communalism, religious hatred leading to mob violence online and offline creates a domino effect destroying innocent minds and turning them into monsters of venom and hate.  Pointing to society’s utter moral bankruptcy where aggressive elements openly target, vilify and perpetuate sexual violence against women and minorities with alarming impunity.

Educated youth pursuing degrees use tech and Internet to wage online ideological wars against communities. Targeted violent contents are openly shared across Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, Instagram, WhatsApp. Remember a Muslim man killed in Palwal video was shared on Facebook along-with a 14-year-old Muslim boy beaten for venturing inside Dasna Devi temple to drink water video was uploaded on social media.

Raising a moot point: Which way is society heading? Tragically, it is not a question of Amritpal or MCD violence but a much wider and larger national problem — of increasing anger. This has resulted in a total breakdown of institutions, society, culture and ethical values. Replacing moral rules with naked force, hypocrisy and fraud.

Killing yet another signpost of an increasingly enfeebled system. Symptomatic of complete lawlessness that has gripped the country. A new cult establishing an order of hatred and rage. An eerie stillness filling the senses with smell of death, mayhem and brutal carnage held hostage by rampant goondagardi.

Who is responsible? The onus lies on all sides — politicians, bureaucracy, police, ‘protected’ criminals etc. Politicians and police are two sides of the same coin. Both viewed nowadays as venal and incompetent. Fake encounters. Torture deaths. Want to get rid of somebody? Call up the “Police-wala Goonda”.

Criminals in khadi herald the new dons of tomorrow, hustling and muscling is the way to fulfil people’s aspirations. And what should one say of hot young blood? Who will rape for kicks and kill for a drink. In this milieu can criminalized mafia dons be far behind? Who now have taken recourse to “out of court settlements” and extortions. And what about the new intolerant rage sweeping across the country? Turning religion into burning embers of hatred.

The forebodings are in the air: rising prices, over-population, urban decay and proliferating of slums. Killings take place. Property is destroyed. Work and economic activity is brought to a grinding halt. Normal life is disrupted at the outbreak of any festering conflict.

Evidently, the administrative system had practically collapsed long ago — not only in New Delhi but almost everywhere. A life-style of Nano Yuppiesim only brings forth the macro consequences of neglect of socio-political environment. A total urban breakdown, neglect of rural poverty, unpaved roads, unsanitary environments and a collapsing sewage and drainage system. Of degrading poverty. At a stage, where another crisis threatens.

The truth is that even as we have achieved political and economic freedom we still remain hostage to errant elements of society. “Lopsided economic growth has created a dispossessed population which cannot relate to Western cultural values and norms,” asserted a social scientist.

Unfortunately, most Indians do not care. Absence of national character and indiscipline has led to a creeping paralysis of ‘sab chalta hai’. Think. Is violence really worth the price the country will pay? Who will bear the cross? How does one salvage India’s soul?

Nothing justifies bloodshed or the call to commit violence in direct contravention of the law. If anyone has angst against authorities or person they should take up legal battle against them. Unless the larger network fuelling such anger and intolerance is brought to justice it will continue unabated.

Where does India go from here? In a milieu wherein adoption of strong-arm tactics to extract one’s pound of flesh has become second nature, it is time to cry a halt. Time to realise that democracy is not a harlot to be picked up in the street by a man with a gun. Remember, coercion has a thousand fathers but liberty is an orphan. We are a civilized democracy and cannot destroy it as we shape New India.  Violence is unacceptable. What do you say?  —  INFA