‘Yeh Hai Mumbai, Meri Jaan!’
The Shiv Sena is brazenly flouting the law through its policy of intimidation while favoring the Marathi speaking population. The official spokesman of the Shiv Sena described actor Shah Rukh Khan as a traitor because he is a Muslim named Khan. This is open to a defamation case. It is a different matter that no such case may be registered given a judicial system that renders such litigation a futile decade’s long exercise. Worse, by openly targeting North Indians the Shiv Sena violated Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code by causing disaffection among communities. Its leaders can be prosecuted and sent to prison for three years. No such prosecution will occur of course. The government is watching this ugly spectacle with quiet satisfaction as opposition votes get divided to give it electoral advantage. Never mind if Mumbai celebrities, including film stars, succumb to the Sena’s quiet unspoken terror to fall in line with its dictate.
However, the RSS has reacted. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat has unambiguously opposed the Shiv Sena. He said: “Mumbai is for all Indians. Whole of India is for all Indians.” The RSS went further to ask its volunteers to protect North Indians. The BJP, which is a political ally of the Shiv Sena, is prevaricating. Its President, Nitin Gadkari, who periodically states that he was not nominated by the RSS, is mulling over the situation. He says he will consult the RSS before coming to a decision. Does it require consultation with anyone to know that terror and threats violate law and need to be opposed?
So, was the RSS statement just hot air or it meant something? The RSS has cadres. If Mohan Bhagwat means business he must put his muscle where his mouth is. RSS cadres have been used in the past to protect civil society. During the 1962 hostilities with China the RSS cadres policed the streets to aid the government. Today there is no such external attack. A Chinese think tank has prepared a policy paper suggesting how India can be Balkanized. But there is no need for China to intervene in any fashion to implement it. The Thackeray clan is doing the job. Why cannot the RSS intervene to boost the morale of those targeted by the Shiv Sena?
Mohan Bhagwat can direct 100 or 200 RSS volunteers to guard the residence of Shah Rukh Khan. This act will speak louder than any words. It will convey a message loud and clear to the Shiv Sena and all the divisive forces in the nation. It will convey that national integrity is more important than any political electoral alliance; that in democracy the rule of law must prevail; and that the observance of law is the surest guarantee of true secularism.
The RSS is on trial. How will it acquit itself?