“The Prime Minister is of the nation and not that of the BJP”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court remarked on Saturday as followers of another “goddamn man” wreaked havoc. “National integrity is above parties. Are we a nation or a party nation”, the court went on to ask fuming at the savage violence that was unleashed by rapist Ram Rahim’s private armies with the shameless connivance of the Haryana government under the benign tutelage of the Centre.
Referring to the laxity of the state government, the court said, “You let a city like Panchkula burn for political motives.” The stinging observations came as the administration was allowed to collapse completely to drive a sense of fear among the hapless citizens. The Chief Minister proclaimed that he did take full precautionary measures. The descending legions of the rapist guru on the peaceful Panchkula town proved otherwise. All caution had gone to wind as the administration ensured enough premeditated violence.
The abject surrender of the State to the criminal guru for political gains had been obnoxious. But then such gurus abound in this country and keep making mockery of the systems with impunity thanks to the blessings of the powers that be. The conventional politics and religion not only fail the people but also make the most of such unconventional gurus’ blessings and extend political patronage in exchange for votes. For the millions living on the margins of society, these god men become a higher power than the very Gods because they often see the rich and the powerful prostrate at their feet and consult them.
Religion has become a commodity to be sold and deras, its vote banks, which exchange votes with power. Just a couple of years ago we saw Ram Pal, yet another God man inflicting such a havoc. Manohar Lal Khattar was the Chief Minister then just as now. And when the Jats held the State to ransom a year or so ago too, Khattar was in place and the lawless agitators not only burned at least Rs 30,000 crore worth property, but also resorted to Murthal rapes disowned by the government. But the ruling BJP gave him a clean chit.
If the State seeks to protect these religious binaries even God cannot save this nation. The extent of logistical involvement of the State and its leadership could be debated, but the rhetoric of the religious organisations, both mainstream and unconventional, that is allowed cannot be pardoned. Not just in case of such gurus, but also in case of the 'religious other', the language used creates pervasive religious binaries which become instrumental to recurrence of violence.
Counting politicians, industrialists, filmy and sport icons, top rung officials, these gurus have become larger than life for many in the society. What was Khattar seeking in this instance from the guru? Legitimisation? Even Congressmen flocked to the same guru in the past. It looks as though the rapist guru runs the State and not the duly elected government. No government can take the nation and its people for granted. If this rapist is guilty, then Khattar’s government is equally guilty for aiding and abetting the violence through its inaction.