FIR 59/20 and the dark contours of India’s emerging, new republic


Bharatiya Janata Party activists in New Delhi celebrate before the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhaya on August 5. PHOTO/Money Sharma/AFP

The announcement slipped quietly into the Lok Sabha on September 15, a notable day in the recreation of the republic.

Alongside the fisheries minister’s relief package for fisheries and the health minister’s study on the efficacy of yoga in the recovery of Covid-19 patients, the culture minister declared an expert committee would start a “holistic study of original and evolution of Indian culture to since (sic) 12000 years”. The members included archeologists, a former Supreme Court judge, a Canadian-Indian immunologist and veterinary surgeon and the chairman of the “World Brahmin Federation”.

Do not be surprised if a report emerges some day of Hinduism and the caste system predating the Indus Valley civilisation and finds evidence of ancient flying chariots and nuclear physics. The cue to blurring the boundaries of religious myth and science came six years ago, when, soon after taking office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the elephant-headed god Ganesha as proof of ancient India’s prowess in plastic-surgery.

The transformation of irrational belief, farce, and falsehood – manufactured in the Hindutva thought factory – into WhatsApp forward and elevated to party and government policy is largely established. This process wil be increasingly deployed in drawing the contours of the new republic, which is here in form, if not in constitutional decree. You can call it the Hindu-Rashtra strategy of political guidance and administrative procedure.

The Hindu-Rashtra strategy is leery of reason and fact, hostile to minorities, benevolent towards fake news and hate speech, manipulative of law and derisive of scientific inquiry. It is increasingly apparent that a diversity of Hindutva thought, once fragmented and scattered, is cohering into a strategy that is being put to action. It is currently being road-tested nationwide in varying degree and by varied method, its inherent contradictions and obvious illegalities managed by a largely captive mass media and powerful social-media engine.

A critical test of the Hindu-rashtra strategy is unfolding in the nation’s capital, where several of its strands have been woven into a 17,000-page chargesheet that the police have submitted to court. This chargesheet is based on what is called FIR 59/20, a first information report that alleges the Delhi riots, which claimed 58 lives in February, sprung from a great conspiracy hatched by protestors, liberals, students poets, writers, professors and others who do not heed the Hindutva narrative.

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