THERE’S no such thing as a spontaneous act of genocide. You have to plan for it, you have to water the fields of hate to grow a fine crop of carnage, and you must do so with diligence and with the support of the people who will act as your foot soldiers, the scythes that will harvest the bloody fruits of your efforts.
It’s a systematic thing, the erasure of an entire community; you have to go through the stages, progressing from classification — the division of people into ‘us and them’ — progressing to symbolisation, discrimination and dehumanisation to organisation. From there you move onto polarisation and preparation and persecution before you can start with the actual extermination. Once that bit of business is done, you can happily continue onwards to the final stage, denial.
India, according to last year’s warning from Genocide Watch, the founder of which came up with the aforementioned 10 stages, is currently at stage eight while happily flirting with extermination.
Now when it comes to that final solution, don’t imagine that it always involves cattle cars and concentration camps; this is a slow-motion erasure carried out in dribs and drabs — with the full support of a radicalised state apparatus – an array of ‘isolated incidents’ of lynchings, murders (judicial and otherwise) and pogroms which, when taken separately, are subtle enough for the world to pretend not to notice.
India is happily flirting with extermination.
And if one incident among so many can provide the perfect symbol of what is happening in India today, it is the murder of Moinul Haq in Assam. Moin, like so many other Muslim villagers, was being ‘evicted’ from his home, which, along with many thousands of others, has been declared illegal by the Indian state. The police were sent in, armed to the teeth, and began firing at the makeshift huts in which he and his family resided.
As the villagers fled, Moin charged at the police with nothing but a stick in his hand. True to form, these unfirmed radicals first shrunk back, like a pack of hyenas confronted by a lion, before they realised that they were armed not just with riot gear but automatic weapons. Finding their courage in numbers and the backing of the state they opened fire, hitting Moin in the chest. As he fell, they rushed in with their lathis, beating the dying man with the kind of frenzy that we have seen in mob lynchings across the length and breadth of Modi’s India. Sated, they pulled back but then Bijay Shankar Boniya, the official photographer assigned to document the evictions leapt in, stomping on the dead man’s face and punching his corpse. In that, he exemplifies the cowardice of the foot soldiers of Hindutva who can only target the poor and downtrodden, and even then, only in packs and with the full support of a radicalised state apparatus.
It is fitting of course that he’s a journalist, given that this very dance of death is enacted in Indian newsrooms and studios on a daily basis by shrieking anchors spreading hate and concocting stories against India’s Muslim population with the sole purpose of deepening polarisation and providing the ideological cover for murder.
It also comes as no surprise that while Boniya has been arrested, the policemen who fired the shots, or those who gunned down 12-year-old Sheikh Farid in the same operation, have not been censured. Why would they be, when they’re carrying out the agenda of the state itself? As for Moinul Haq, who was the only breadwinner of his family and who leaves behind an ailing father, a wife and two children, his body was hung side down on a truck and dragged away like so much trash; a fitting end perhaps for a member of a community that Home Minister Amit Shah referred to as ‘termites’.
Now if you’re expecting the world to take notice of this the way they take notice of the Taliban, you’ll be in for a disappointment. And the reason for this is simple: the civilised West, and the United States in particular, needs India as bulwark against China and so it is politically expedient to ignore their new allies’ steady march towards genocidal religious fascism. But then, why would one expect better from those who can exterminate entire families in a single drone strike and call it ‘righteous’? Why expect anything beyond the performative from those who happily lay waste to entire countries in the name of freedom and democracy and have cynically weaponised the very concept of human rights to justify the violation of those rights?
Here, we can only conclude that the only true logic that has ever prevailed in this world is the logic of power. If you have it, you can literally get away with murder. If you don’t, the world will chew you up and then complain about the taste.
The writer is a journalist.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2021