The TM Krishna column: Gauri Lankesh's killers just did the job our society had designed for them

These violent people are far more than just a few and they are our action-agents.

Is this a monologue sans an audience or is it an appeal to the people of my country? I do not know but I am just terrified. The last few days have pushed my mind and heart into a state of despair and hope is indeed fading. In all likelihood Gauri Lankesh was murdered for the ideas she held. If proven to be true, she is certainly not the first and will not be the last. But in her moment of death I wonder if we reached that tipping point as a society when humanity is sucked out and we collectively drown in the blood of hatred. Over the past few years, citizens from across this country have been killed and attacked for the food they consume, their beliefs, for opposing the majority view and for just being who they were. Unlike riot murders, which are restricted to a specific sensitive area or event, these incidents have happened arbitrarily across this nation’s breadth. And every time we read about such a happening, we are told it is the handiwork of fringe elements. There seems to be a lot of the fringe and they exist all around us, fearless in their quest for consuming human life. These violent people are far more than just a few and they are our action-agents. These voices are in our minds, emerging every time we hear, read or see the “other”. When someone executes these unsaid feelings, joy fills our heart. This scares me.

Bombarded by the noise that emanates from people across divisions of culture, religion, class, caste, gender, age and education, I wonder what has happened to us? The vileness, the hate and thirst for killing, the way we trample upon the dead, the sinister laughter in our words and the sheer happiness derived from this gore makes me shudder. Independent India has been the land of mass killings of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, instigated and orchestrated by the political leaders of the day. Maybe we haven’t actually recovered or healed from these massacres and live as deeply damaged, divided people. Is all this talk of our syncretic culture just an artificial construct?

I am not even going to investigate any of these thoughts right now because they do not mean much when people can be shot for being different. The killers of Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Gauri Lankesh were just instruments that completed the task that our society had designed for them.

Who is responsible?

It is well known that I am no supporter of Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad or their affiliates, but right now this is not just political distaste. I hold them morally responsible for permeating religious, intellectual and cultural hate in this country. They have been playing a game with our minds. One person condemns the killing, the other is silent, another makes an instigative remark, and then another distances the party from the statement. While this shatranj goes on, their online stooges are let loose. Watching all this, the prime minister does very little, says almost nothing and when he does, it is just lip service.

The current government reminds me of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four. And let me say this out loud, the BJP and company have not only poisoned the minds of their own supporters, they have achieved a larger goal. They have made the rest of us crass and inhuman to the extent that we are unable to empathise when an RSS member is killed. Of course, this only makes their case for a monolithic Hindu Rashtra stronger and, hence, politically convenient. I know we need to stop this cycle, rediscover empathy, the ethical and sublime, but I do not know how.

I am angry, helpless and saddened but we will keep speaking, writing, questioning, believing, fighting and singing in protest until humanity re-emerges from this nadir.

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