In a bizarre and sickening environment, the execution of Yakub Memon, the sole convict in the 1993 Bombay blasts case took place in the morning of July 30, 2015 at Nagpur jail. The weeks preceding this event polarized `civil society’ with many absolutely convinced of his guilt and baying for blood like in the fabled fox-hunts of England, while there were others who were convinced that he was an innocent man who had been framed with fabricated evidence.
In the latter were esteemed members of society with a long service record and who themselves had served the state in one capacity or another, including retired judges of the Supreme Court. This being the case, one cannot avoid the conclusion that this is a reflection of the deep crisis of the Indian State, with its institutions standing naked with practically no credibility in the eyes of members of several sections. That these Institutions have no credibility in the eyes of the bulk of the population, especially those in the lower end of the economic and social spectrum is a foregone conclusion, as this bulk lives well outside the realm of the society. It is therefore of importance to ask what this juncture reveals and where one must go from here.
It is well known that the Bombay blasts came at a time of deep geo-political changes, and at a time when the Soviet Union had just collapsed and the bi-polar division of the world had come to an end. It was also a time that gave rise to opportunities for ruling circles in several countries to finally somehow come of age and stake their claim to big-power status. It came at a time when in India the ruling circles had decided to abandon the `socialistic pattern of society’ and to adopt in its place `privatization and liberalization’. It came at a time when the first Gulf War had taken place and US imperialism was knocking at the door. It came at a time when there was an all round crisis in Kashmir with street demonstrations on a scale not seen in decades. Thus it was a time of acute crisis for the Indian ruling circles and their political parties. For these ruling circles to operate and to emerge as the leaders of an imperial India, a fundamental reorientation had to take place. This was then predicated on breaking the unity of the Indian people and to create a deep divide between the two largest religious communities in the country. No one can doubt that the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition could have occurred without these agenda in the background, soon to be followed by the Bombay riots and then the blasts. The collateral damage to these Machiavellian machinations were the hundreds of dead in the riots and the blasts. Those who protest the innocence of Yukub Memon may simply add his name to the list of such collateral victims, if indeed they are right.
The fact of the matter is that the entire region of India and its neighbourhood is the theatre of intense intrigue and rivalry between various contending parties, domestic and international. The ruling classes of these countries are a part of the Anglo-American imperialist offensive called “war against terrorism” against countries which do not fall in line with the global strategic ambitions of the US and its allies. Each of the countries in the region has a reactionary ruling class which serves to protect its interests no matter what the cost is. In some cases, these are inter-necine conflicts, in others waves of assassinations, and in general it is a bloodbath that guarantees that the ruling classes carry on, and even more of these take place when a change of course is sought. This is the fundamental tenet of statecraft in these countries. (Footnote: What is common between, eg., Liaqat Ali Khan, Mohandas Gandhi, Mujibur Rehman, Zia-ul-Huq, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, S. Bandarnaike, Preamdasa and King Birenda? Answer: they all met violent ends.)
The activities of these states have as their kernel, large number of intelligence services, with various clandestine tentacles that carry on activities inside and outside their borders, fomenting trouble and causing confusion, in their game of cat and mouse. The aim, of course, it to disempower the people and prevent the rise of any opposition. In the present context, it is obvious that the likes of the Memons were involved with such activities, and what the extent of their involvement is, their `innocence’ and `guilt’ being aspects that cannot be established. Once in their tentacles, there is always the prospect of becoming collateral damage, or being double crossed, or even simply being the main kingpin one day and the victim the next.
The above said, it is clear that while these events have gone on, at least in India, one has seen the entrenchment of capitalism and an increase of its confidence in international affairs, while at the same time, one has seen the ruination of agriculture and a complete decimation of the rights of its working population. These are almost necessary ingredients for the rise of an imperial India. More on this aspect later.
The rise of media in India has also gone hand in hand with these developments, especially that of the electronic media. This is a lesson that the Indian ruling circles have taken from the US experience, which is that of disinformation and manipulation of opinion as a powerful tool to support their activities. Furthermore, the media is a necessary instrument in helping the State extricate itself out of its crisis. In the present case, the media has played a role in vitiating the environment and polarizing the environment, which even has a name now `trial by media’. In the final analysis, the media has helped in restoring the credibility of state institutions, and helping in asserting the self-proclaimed supremacy of the Indian State, and in sprinkling holy water on what is widely regarded as a completely flawed judicial system. The media, far from debating the draconian provisions of laws such as (the erstwhile) TADA, has sought to give legitimacy to such draconian measures.
It has also helped in sanctifying various Institutions such as the Supreme Court and its debates, and has brought into common parlance such terms as amicus curiae, curative petition, and so on, which create the illusion that a beleaguered citizen somehow does have some rights, while in reality a citizen after who the State goes after really has not a chance.
The media in playing up the state institutions with minute by minute updates of the activities of various officials, criss-crossing the streets of Lutyens’ Delhi to meet this or that legal official, stories of officials being woken up at odd hours to meet the President to discuss clemency. It may be noted here that the President of India himself or herself enjoys the equivalent of the Royal Prerogative of British Monarch’s ruling in the name of the people, while the latter in the name of God.
In order to not be outdone, other media outlets gave minute by minute updates on the plight of the condemned man, of what clothes he was to wear, of his emotional state, and so on, all while everyone knew that the President would not grant the clemency. These gleeful activities of the media were nothing more than the creation of a media-circus reminiscent of accounts of gladiators being thrown to lions in imperial Rome. It may also be noted that these activities of the media are nothing but a copy of the US media’s activities each time a person who is scheduled to be executed nears the appointed time. The upshot of these is to stun the public into a state of learned helplessness to willy-nilly accept the power and diktat of an unconscionable State and its activities through fear.
All concerned citizens may take this opportunity to ask themselves what is what and to ask themselves whether or not the Indian State is really in a crisis, and if so, what are the real reasons for this. The root cause of the crisis is that it stands above the citizenry and the people and seeks to crush underfoot any opposition to it, while it safeguards the rights and aspirations of only the ruling cliques. Nevertheless, the picture is not rosy either. The imperial India that the ruling classes aspire stands in ruins today, with India continuing to be the home to the largest numbers of impoverished people, with the worst development indices, with the largest number of miserable people, and the largest fraction of miserable population in the world, with the exception of those in war torn countries. While on the one hand, the country has all the trappings of imperial pomp and ceremony, the reality for its billion and more people is something different.
Our LRS Correspondent