Let's Make a Riot

Let's make a riot.

It's the easiest political formula to follow that is stored up in the arsenal of Indian politicians. No deep thinking to state ideology, no difficult problems to solve to win voters, not even worry about the economy. It's the easiest one of course after the numero uno - we are a party of the poor. After all, everyone in our country wants to be declared poor - just sample the kind of people who carry ration cards to see just who really benefits from schemes for the poor, and you will see.

The riot formula is easy - throw a dead pig or a dead cow, deface religious structures, harass women and raise the slogan of religion, caste or ethnicity, or simply throw up anti-India rhetoric. Put up some fake videos of co-religionists being persecuted in some obscure part of the world and run riot in 'revenge'. If that does not work, stab a worker of some political parties or religious organizations to inflame passions.

 If that too fails, deliver hate speeches and distribute CDs to ensure people get your messages of hate.

Alternatively, let us hack people's hands for 'blasphemy' or publish pamphlets that provoke sentiments of brainwashed people.

Much like the Panchatantra tale of foolish brothers creating a tiger that ate them up, our political parties and political organizations love to create situations where they can be shrill and behave in a reprehensible manner. After all, riots can be selectively milked as well, much like Gujarat 2002, as if no other riots took place before or after. Never mind that these tigers come back to gobble them and their shoddy defenses.

They can also clearly play on the collective amnesia of the public by being shrill about Gujarat or Delhi, even as the rest of the country burns while Gujarat and Delhi are peaceful.

The desire to create riots cuts across all ideologies. Be they 'secular' or 'communal', all of them behave in exactly the same manner when it comes to walking the talk. Let us ride this tiger, they all think gleefully, and behave like modern day Neroes, even as Kishtwar or Muzaffarnagar or Mirchpur or Hyderabad or North Cachar Hills or Kandhamal become modern day Romes, being burnt to ashes, leaving behind anguished people and despaired souls.

Furthermore, even as the riot is taking place, let us force the executive to behave absolutely reprehensibly in controlling them. While the politics of Nero-ism happens, the executive is made to put forward orders that make little sense. Instead of allowing responsible media outlets to publish and broadcast the truth or use these media to appeal for calm, we put blanket bans on them. Let's allow for more rumour mongering to run riot (pun intended) so that more deaths and killings happen. Also, let us not book the real perpetrators of crimes against humanity but chargesheet people who might be dead or not even there. Let us not arrest people who can come on television channels to claim their innocence, or admonish people who call up the executive, asking them to go slow and let the fire singe people in the worst manner possible.

Level 1 of the game, that is mob violence in the face of an inept administration and useless polity leads to Level 2 - the secularism card. Everyone can then have a field day tossing this football around, without owing the responsibility to kick the ball into the goal of peace, justice and responsibility.

This level is even easier than imagined. All you need are histrionics in front of cameras and actors willing to perform tamashas in front of the voting public, who are found in plenty across our political spectrum.

Once the riot has taken place, let's ensure that everyone gets a field day playing politics over who said what, how many were killed, and whether these were the worst ever riots. Never mind people who are waiting for justice - let us hijack the process and try to outshout each other. If we cannot do that ourselves, let us unleash our proxies to continue playing the game for us. Who cares for the dead - they don't vote after all. Nor do the kids who are scarred for life or the old and imbecile who just lost faith in the democracy. Our principal constituency is the voter far away from all of this, with whom we are playing the dangerous game of flaming passions, expecting them to display symptoms of the Stockholm syndrome vis-a-vis our parties, while also displaying the Nintendo effect towards all the violence and bloodshed that took place.

And so, while the polity shouts itself to sleep, the ashes of the nation's hopes, aspirations and dreams continue to smoulder.

Everyone loves a good riot after all.


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