arya sharma/catch news
We've reached a point in the intolerance debate where the lines are solidifying. 'Us versus them' is cementing itself in public conversation, in ways that could well get out of hand in the future.
Kanhaiya Kumar's arrest on February 9 triggered an explosive debate on nationalism in the country - and the outcome is polarisation on levels we've rarely seen before.
For anyone who thinks this is exaggeration, a 10-minute social media excursion is all that's needed.
Whatsapp forwards. FB hate posts. Twitter trolls. And YouTube videos. Of virulence. Hatred. Anger. And incitement.
The same incitement Kanhaiya was, ironically accused of.
Kanhaiya's speech the night of his release set the tone for the liberal conversation - primarily because it wasn't tinged with bitterness despite his having spent 21 days in jail on trumped-up charges.
He didn't play victim. He was fearless. He was passionate. And despite all that had happened, he was idealistic.
Much had been made of Kumar's now famous 'azadi' slogan that was doctored to paint him as a separatist. Kumar used this very controversy to hit back: "We don't want freedom from India, my brothers, we want freedom in India."
"Freedom from hunger, freedom from corruption, freedom from the RSS, freedom from Manu-ism, freedom from caste - we will take our freedoms."
But despite evidence that the original statements attributed to Kanhaiya were doctored, reactions continue to be harsh.
And even that's a mild description.
The very next day, BJYM leader Kuldeep Varshney decided that the best way to end a debate is to ask for someone's tongue to be sliced off and handed to him for the sum Rs 5 lakh.
Also read - #JNURow: Kanhaiya Kumar is back and how!
Statements like these are chilling for obvious reasons. It isn't simply a question of public perception any more. People are willing to be 'derps' at the behest of the upper echelons of the government and there's very little the ordinary citizen can do about it.
Nothing frames the contrast between the two sides more than these videos. It's hard to keep the illusion that we're a democracy, or that we're even a civilised nation, when watching or listening to some of the virulent reactions here.
And because it's in the name of 'nationalism' and nationhood, all is forgiven - from vicious rants to outright incitement to violence. From the deshbhakt's point of view, everyone with an alternate viewpoint is a deshdrohi.
Not yet sure which is which? These videos may help:
In a video titled 'Indian Terrorists JNU Students EXPOSED By Abhishek Mishra', Abhishek Mishra 'informs' us about how we have more to fear from the terrorists within our country - the 'haramkhor' that are feeding off our tax money.
The angry fellow describes himself as:
Abhishek Mishra is the founder of Gadget Ninja. He has been awarded as a child scientist, he generated electricity from urine at the age of 13. He loves to create unique things that never done before, coping with challenges and doing anything which has fun. Abhishek also creates videos on serious issues in India and uploads them on this channel.
Now we can't be sure of his claims about electricity from urine, but the man is everywhere on social media - with a Facebook page full of motivational quotes from his own website - abhishekmishra.org - and videos where he claims women misuse their power to articles where he defends the expense on Modi's foreign visits.
He's even got a video on the 'real face of Rajdeep Sardesai and other media journalists'. In it he describes a plan as to how such 'gaddars' or traitors can be driven out of the country.
He enjoys profiling people too:
Yes we exist! :D pic.twitter.com/Yi4QfnXsuk- Abhishek Mishra (@meamabhishek) February 17, 2016
And has no qualms about harassing people either:
One more JNU girl student blocked me. Hahaha :) Yaar.. Sach Bahut Kadwa Hota Hai :P- Abhishek Mishra (@meamabhishek) February 23, 2016
"Watch this video to understand why the students who were celebrating Afzal Guru as martyrs are not only against India but also against their own self. And, understand how too much 'tolerant' by any one would be seen only as cowardice," reads the description on YouTube by vlogger Ravi J Singh, another absolute authority on all things India.
His main argument against JNU in this video that been watched nearly 3,50,000 times is the tax nationalism debate. Which is, in essence: how dare students benefitting from subsidised education funded by OUR tax money hold opinions that run counter to ours.
But in reality, are JNU research scholars the big beneficiaries of exchequer largesse?
Singh initially found virality on YouTube with a video which replied to Aamir Khan on his intolerance remark back in December 2015. He then went on to question Arvind Kejriwal's decision to increase the salaries of Delhi MLAs.
In fact, the man has come up with a new word to describe his observations on his Wordpress page - Raviisms - which by his definition means: "a non-politically correct word, phrase or collection of observations and ponderings written by Ravi J Singh".
His love for his country is obviously all-consuming (he harps on and on about it) and angered by any slight to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He makes his dislike for Kejriwal clear - according to him Kejriwal's politics means to squash nationalism and go back to the ways of the left, right and communism (?).
The title of the following video also says a lot: "The Anti-National Kanhaiya Kumar Ripped Apart by Nationalist Ravijot Singh".
This IIT- Guwahati and IIM-Calcutta alumni is the founder of Agniveer, a site "that fights terrorism and is most popular site on Hinduism".
He's pretty intent on fighting communists and separatists. And 'deshdrohis' of course.
On Mahashivaratri, Agniveer rips apart separatists and reveals true history of Kashmir. Must read and circulate... https://t.co/BWkVwt3yZd- Agniveer (@agniveer) March 7, 2016
He calls Kanhaiya's call for 'azadi' dialogues and questions the need for calling out for justice for Rohith Vemula. His argument is based on the fact that Vemula himself said in his suicide letter that 'main kisi ko doshi nahi manta'.
He's a staunch believer that the Congress has its hand behind everything. His arguments on nationalism revolve around how the soldier gives up his life and we are ungrateful, how 'har sainik mera bhai hain, baap hain aur ma hain" and that every breath he draws is because of them.
Hi site is full of pieces such as: 'Why I Support Patiala House Lawyers', 'Salute to Siachen Warriors, Shame on JNU traitors' and 'Dalit Bullshit and Crocodile Tears'. (For further reading, they seem to be the exclusive sellers of this book: No Beef in Hinduism: Everything you need to silence beef-lovers - Discover Hinduism Book 1).
Though his videos are calmer than the others, his words are full of abuse. Check out how he "gives a tight slap to JNU questions and challenge".
Then there's this chilling vox pop made by AN Entertainment, a YouTube page with an "unlimited supply of public pranks, social experiments, sketches and stories".
There's a disclaimer with this video: "This video contains strong language without any beep; if JNU students can abuse our country then these reactions should reach them clearly and directly."
Here are some direct quotes:
"They should be stripped in front of the public and beaten."
"If given a chance, I will hang those motherf***ers."
"We will fu** their mothers and sisters."
"We will burn them alive. We will not spare them. We will kill them in their houses."
"Whatever students did at JNU, the anti-India slogans they raised, they are the 'wrongest' persons on this planet."
"These students should be shot down because they are traitors."
"They must be chopped at the public square. Are they going to the university to study or indulge in politics?"
"They have committed treason."
"Our country needs a Hitler now."
"They must return their passports and migrate to Pakistan."
"According to me, they must be publicly executed at India Gate. They have no right to speak against our country."
"They must be treated in the same manner as Afzal Guru."
"Shoot, just when you see them. No questions asked, no trial, just kill them. They are the termites eating our country."
"JNU is sheltering these dogs. Shut the JNU or correct these students. This is the solution."
If this doesn't disturb you, nothing can.
For these self-proclaimed nationalists, the JNU incident is the greatest threat to nationalism. They claim that simply questioning aspects of due procedure in a court judgement is equivalent to dissent and will break the nation.
Meanwhile, in sharp contrast are some of these speeches that have emerged from JNU itself - no milder in conviction, but without the rabidness that seems to dictate right-wing discourse.
A quick watch should help you decide for yourself where the sane voices in the debate lie.
More in Catch - Do you want to live in a 100% Hindu nation?