15 October 2015

A brief history of the Shiv Sena's cowardice

When Samuel Johnson observed that "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" he must have had someone like the Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut in mind. After Shiv Sainiks smeared ink or paint on Sudheendra Kulkarni's face a few days ago Raut said: "Smearing ink is a very mild form of democratic protest. They are so upset over ink. Imagine when our soldiers are killed and their blood is spilled. It is not ink, it is the blood of our soldiers." (timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Kasuri-book-launch-We-will-continue-our-protest-Shiv-Sena-says/articleshow/49323040.cms)

I cannot think of a better way to malign our brave jawans. The jawans fight armed men and are often killed. The Shiv Sena through its long history has only targeted people who cannot hit back. When it is criticised by the media it attacks newspaper vendors, burns newspaper vans but is never around to face the consequences. Shiv Sainiks always attack in packs so that they cannot be identified. On the rare occasion that they are arrested they usually deny participating in the attacks. The jawan displays courage at every instant. The Shiv Sainik is cowardice personified.

Talking of jawans reminds me also of the Lata Mangeshkar song which brought tears to Nehru's eyes. Some of its most moving lines are these:

Koi Sikh, koi Jat Maratha,
Koi Gurkha, koi Madrasi,
Sarhad par marne waala har veer tha Bharatvaasi,
Jo Khoon giraa parvat par woh khoon tha Hindustaani

During its brief history, the Shiv Sena has targeted Gujaratis, south Indians, Muslims, north Indians and, most recently, Jains. If ever a party deserves to be called anti-nationalist it is this party which has arrogated to itself the right to issue labels of nationalism.

How cowardly can this party get? I quote from a 1999 article in a newspaper I used to publish: "One day .. [this was in 1986 or 1987] the Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray summoned some Sikh notables to a press conference. He said that he would not tolerate any more killings of Hindus in Punjab and told the Sikh leaders that they would have to go to the Golden Temple to convey Thackeray's message to the terrorists there. The Sikhs were of course worried. Given Thackeray's history he might order his Shiv Sainiks to ransack their homes. But the next week they turned the tables on him. Yes, they said, they would travel to the Golden Temple, but Thackeray would have to accompany them. That was of course the last that anyone heard from Thackeray on the Punjab problem. He is of course very happy to order his Sainiks to go on the rampage but when asked to demonstrate personal courage he simply placed his tail between his legs and ran for cover. When you stand up to bullies they back down." Cocooned within layers of state-provided security even an arthritic mouse can put up a good imitation of a tiger's roar.

As an aside, not long before Bal Thackeray decided that Punjab terrorism was best fought from within the safe confines of Matoshri, Sudheendra Kulkarni travelled in Punjab reporting on the anti-terrorist movement there, and running a real risk of being killed. If I recall rightly, he wrote mainly about the fight put up by the Communist Party of India; those were his leftist days. Wikipedia tells me that 200 members of the party were killed by terrorists. How many Sainiks have ever been killed fighting against people who could hit back?

It does not take much courage to wave a slaughtered chicken in front of a Jain temple in Mumbai. If Sanjay Raut really wants to offend people who will fight back, he should try carrying a pig's head to throw in front of the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar. He might want to persuade the little Thackeray to come along. Even if he refuses, it might get him thinking about the nature of courage, which would be a huge advance, considering that his grandfather did not, and his father does not, possess an atom of it.

P.S. Correction: Thackeray's press conference was in March 1988.

Category: Miscellaneous

Philip George
Understanding Keynes to go beyond him

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