Open Letter to Amulya Gopalakrishnan PDF Print E-mail

by K K Kak

Amulya Gopalakrishnan published “Stand up to the Bullies” in The Times of India on Feb 18, 2016 - . This is a reply to her.

Dear Ms Gopalakrishnan,

This is with reference to your article 'Stand up to the Bullies' published in ToI on 18.2.2016. Since you have appended your e-mail address, I presume you are open to reader feedback, and am hence taking the liberty of making this reply.

The question is not whether nationalism will survive a few disloyal students, but why disloyal students should be tolerated in the first place. Islam will survive the rants of sundry Hindutva loonies, but that doesn't stop leftist liberals from demanding that those loonies be silenced / arrested. If 'Bharat ki barbaadi' slogans are OK, then why not 'Muslims go to Pakistan' or the 'haramkhor' comments of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti? Is it that the basic standards of decency in language and behaviour that we expect from ourselves as a nation and from the Hindu right are not applicable to the 'liberal left'?

Second, there is still no clarity on what Kanhaiya Kumar actually said. His supporters (you included) claim that he was defending the Constitution. His detractors say that he was in fact shouting anti-India slogans. How about letting the courts take a call?

Suggesting that the BJP/ABVP/RSS brute nationalism wants to put women / minorities / Dalits in their place is a rather peculiar lumping of categories. Islam puts women in their place far more ruthlessly than Hindutva does -- witness Muslim clerics telling the Supreme Court that triple talaq can't be scrapped because the Koran supersedes women's rights, the Supreme Court and the Indian Constitution. No comment from the liberal left on that?! As for the bit about Muslim terrorists to fight -- are you suggesting that we should NOT fight Muslim terrorists?

Then take the bit about real violence against journalists vs premonition of violence from students. Back in 2011, the BJP wanted to hoist the national flag in Srinagar -- peacefully. Kashmiri separatist mobs (friends of the lot who recently raised slogans in JNU?) perpetrated actual violence in Srinagar and threatened more if the tricolour was raised. The UPA Government ignored the actual violence from separatist mobs and arrested the BJP leaders on the premonition of future violence. And the left liberals actually cheered the arrests and blamed the BJP for upsetting the mobs! Has our definition of premonition vs real violence changed since the BJP came to power, or are there different standards for different people?

Or let's take Susheel Kumar of the ABVP being beaten up by Ambedkar Sena goons in Hyderabad University. The left liberal response was a) he is lying 2) if he isn't lying, then the injuries were minor so he should stop fussing c) he's ABVP, i.e., Hindutva loony, so who cares anyway? Now these same responses are being given to the JNU students post Patiala House and they don't like it. Why is violence against Susheel Kumar condonable (or at least ignorable) but not against Kanhaiya Kumar?

A couple of days ago, a young man named Sujit was hacked to death in Kerala in front of his parents by CPM thugs. Isn't it lovely how the mainstream media has ignored it? No front page headlines in ToI, no primetime TVdiscussions, no comments from Oomen Chandy or Rahul Gandhi (who rule Kerala) nor from Prakash Karat or Sitaram Yechury (whose partymen have been arrested for the murder). No comments even from Arvind Kejriwal who comments on everything else. No gratuitous advice from sundry American intellectuals, no interview with Sujit's parents (funny how the media can find the parents of Ishrat Jahan, of Kanhaiya Kumar,and of Umar Khalid - but not those of an RSS worker), not even a mention in your article.

The lawyers in Delhi have gone on the rampage before too, with the media and the courts typically siding with the lawyers against 'police brutality'. It's ironical that the media which sided with the lawyers against the police now wants police support against the lawyers.

And it is curious that the only opinion polls I have seen on the JNU issue are three online polls by, which found that 76% respondents supported the sedition charges, 84% supported the police crackdown, and 58% considered the violent lawyers to be nationalists. Is that why the mainstream media is doing no polls themselves?

My intention is not to condone violent nationalism. It is to point out the sheer hypocrisy of those who condemn violent nationalism, while ignoring the violence of their own supporters. Think of Communist violence against political opponents in Kerala, think decades of CPM violence in Bengal now replaced by Trinamool violence. Think of the Nandigram violence in 2007 in CPM-ruled Bengal which Prakash Karat justified by saying, in effect, that his opponents had been taught a lesson -- why can Karat use this argument but not OP Sharma? Think of Krishna Prasad Jana beaten to death in Sabang College, Bengal by TMC thugs with no action taken by the Bengal (Trinamool) Government and no fuss by our liberals.

Violence, both physical and ideological (read Bibek Debroy's article about how non-Left intellectuals were treated) has been there in this country for a long time. JNU was hitherto peaceful because the right was completely shut out -- the peace of China or North Korea. Now the right is making inroads, and the entrenched powers don't like it. The anguish expressed by our leftist liberals is not so much because of the violence per se - they've been perfectly fine with violence perpetrated by themselves. It's just that they object to being at the receiving end. You suggest that to 'counter the BJP's ugly nationalism, it is time to mobilise a patriotic perspective'. I wish you luck mobilising such a perspective from our current leftists.

Finally, do you know that JNU students pay only about Rs.400 per year as fees? That's less than 2% of the Delhi University fees, less than 1% of what Delhi schools charge for nursery. Ironical that students whose education is almost completely funded by the Indian Government are busy abusing the Indian state. After shelling out a substantial portion of my (our) income on my (our) children's school fees, I (we) also have to contribute my (our) tax money so that JNU students can study almost completely free.

Is it too much to expect them (regardless of political affiliation) to actually study? And to ask them, if they propose to play politics instead, to do so at their own (or at their parents') expense?

Yours sincerely,

KK Kak

(I am a Kashmiri Hindu and cannot go back to my homeland. Believe me, my community knows best what intolerance is.)