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Indira Gandhi's martyrdom: Congress became 'precursor' to Hindutva dominance

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
This last day of October reminds us the brutal assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her own security guards who were supposed to protect her. Since June 1984, when Indira Gandhi ordered Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Sikh feelings were tremendously hurt, but there was no attempt to assuage the feelings.
Somehow every Sikh became a 'terrorist' and victim of a sinister campaign of humiliation. I still feel, those times were much better than today, because we did not have these goons who threaten people from their newsrooms and instigate violence against them.
Can you imagine, what would have been the role of this media in a powerful government of Rajiv Gandhi? Doordarshan was showing the dead body of Indira Gandhi for many days, as people were shouting slogan : "Khoon ka badla khoon se lenge."
As Indira Gandhi brought colour TV revolution to India, people watched the entire thing on their TV screens and were being fed with all the 'sarkaari' reports every moment. It was perhaps the first 24x7 'spectacle' for the TV media to extend its outreach, as for a few days newspaper sales increased, and in smaller places where we used to live, newspapers would be sold off before reaching homes.
There was only Doordarshan and All India Radio. They were doing their duty, but there were no shouting party spokespersons inside the studio, like what we are witnessing in these times, who would perhaps have launched a direct campaign against Sikhs. The media that time was silent and was just doing its duty as per the government order.
Doordarshan-Akashwani would stop all the programmes, and we would just listen to some classical music, but on Indira Gandhi's assassination day, till the evening 6 pm, everything was shut. We were depending on external sources like BBC, which declared that she was shot dead, but there was no official word about it.
Though she was shot at her home in the morning time around 9 am, the official announcement of her death came at 6 pm on radio and television simultaneously. When I imagine what would have happened if Indira Gandhi was in today's time, or if there were all these 24x7 TV channels.
Violence erupted or was made to erupt by goons of the Congress,  but it was not merely an issue of the Congress. In her death, Indira Gandhi had become, or was projected as a great Hindu leader killed by Sikhs. So, subsequently we saw, a 'Hindu' outrage; though we conveniently called it Congress goons; it was not so. Congress had become a Hindu party, a party of Hindu sentiments. Rajiv Gandhi called Indira Gandhi Bharat Mata in his first broadcast to the nation.
It was violence or pogrom, whatever we may call it, but the fact is the Indian state completely abdicated its duty. The goons whether of the Congress or any other persuasion, whether Hindus or not, had complete protection from the administration and its police.
It was like a national 'resolving' to 'teach' Sikhs a lesson. Innocent children lost their parents. We never saw such brutality since partition the of India, such butchering of families. Home Minister P V Narsimha Rao sat silently, allowing goons to do all the things and the police remained quiet.
All over the country, there was a pattern, a whisper campaign against Sikhs, as if they has killed Indira Gandhi. This is a serious question to ponder over. Why do we blame the entire community if some crime is done by individuals belonging to that community?
Muslims have been punished for that, and Dalits, too. Sikh got the punishment because the murderers of Indira Gandhi happened to be two Sikhs. But the murderers of Rajiv Gandhi were Hindus, while that of Gandhiji was a Brahmin.
Subsequently we saw, a 'Hindu' outrage; though we conveniently called it Congress goons; it was not so
But we never saw that kind of isolation and condemnation of these communities. It means that the dominant sections define the discourse on whom to vilify and whom to glorify. That is why Gandhiji's murderers are still being glorified, and nothing happens to them.
Today when we moan the brutal murder of Indira Gandhi, remember her legacy, we cannot keep our eyes shut that Sikhs were butchered and murdered in the aftermath of her assassination that it was a complete abdication of the state rajdharma. It was a project Hindu Rashtra, this time under Rajiv's Congress, where Sikhs were vilified and Rajiv became the symbol of Hindu asmita.
If we are living in these terrible times when Indian state apparatus has turned Brahmanical then the project started since the return of Indira Gandhi in 1980. It got strengthened in her unfortunate assassination in 1984.
India is paying a heavy price today for the games that the Congress played during this period in the absence of fighting the issue ideologically. It tried to sail through the same boat of communal polarisation which resulted in a massive mandate for Rajiv Gandhi -- it was a victory of the Hindu Rashtra.
Subsequently, Rajiv Gandhi's flirtation and the Congress' complete ideological bankruptcy paved the way for the Hindutva forces, whose cherished dream to rule India was realised in May 2014. Its second mandate of 2019, has further strengthened their position.
Today is the day not merely to remember Indira Gandhi and her contribution to our polity, but also the Congress' failure to fight communal forces ideologically by virtually becoming the B team of Hindutva, resulting in legitimacy and ascendancy of hate mongers in the power structure.
---
*Human rights defender. Source: Author's Facebook timeline

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