When A Celebrity Gandhian Mourns A Mass Murderer!
26 May, 2013
Who can have a problem with someone remembering a dear friend, brutally killed by enemies who could come in any form from that of armed to teeth state to much less armed insurgents? No one can, one must think. Killings, more so the brutal and mindless ones should always be despised as they dehumanise everyone, the killer, the victims and the witnesses.
But what if the one killed was a mass murderer, the founder of an armed militia illegalised and disbanded by nothing less than the Supreme Court of the country? And, lo and behold, the one remembering him so fondly is a self-designated Gandhian, a champion of non-violence? That’s exactly what I woke up to this morning, to Himanshu Kumar, a self-appointed Gandhian having monopolised the rights of being the voice of hapless adivasis of Bastar, paying his heartfelt condolences to Mahendra Karma, the architect of Salwa Judum. What if this armed militia is responsible for killing, maiming and raping countless adivasis in the ongoing war that Indian state has been waging on its own citizens?
Let me concede here, though, that the obituary, published in a reputed magazine Tehelka, came across as a brutally honest one. That is till one reread it and getting to the facts hidden between the lines. The Gandhian has recounted his association with the murderer way too well, down to the detail of acknowledging the perks that came with this ‘friendship’. Himanshu Kumar minced no words in accepting that “[t]he administration would nominate” him “to every committee in the district.” Himanshu Kumar would also note down the disgrace that would come his way because of this association. He would not deny that the ‘friendship’ has led to a scenario where “BJP leaders” had started calling him “a Congress man.”
Despite the apparent honesty, something sinister was reeking out of this acknowledgement. Something, that was haunting me. Then it came in a flash. Did not Mahednra Karma, such a dear friend of Himanshu Kumar, was the one who had started Jan Jagran Abhiyan comprising of traders and businessmen way back in 1991? That is, almost a year before his first meeting with Himanshu Kumar, the Gandhian, ‘serving’ hapless adivasis in the area? He must have known about the terror Karma “ji’ wielded in the area. He must have known that whom will an organisation of traders and businessmen would serve in an area inhabited mostly by adivasis.
No, the Gandhian would not know any of that. He would discuss the sincerity of his friend, Karma ‘ji’. He would gift him books, remembering one of them very clearly. That one was “Hindu Hone Ka Dharma” (The Dharma of being a Hindu). The question, however, is if the Gandhian really did not know of the armed militia that his friend was leading. Himanshu Kumar would not explain that. He would, rather, discuss ‘Karmaji’s rise in the politics. He would, in his brutally honest way, even refer to the mining project of Mittals and Jindals his friend ‘Karmaji’ wanted to bring in the Bailadila for ‘development’. He would inform the readers about the township project his friend was thinking about, of course for ‘development’ in Bijapur.
He would stop on that, why won’t he, it was getting uncomfortable after all. Himanshu Kumar would discuss of Salwa Judum only in passing. It could, after all, be a ‘coincidence’ for him that Salwa Judum was starting in in the “same Bijapur where licenses were given out for mining.” Friends and coincidences are bound to go hand in hand, don’t they? He would even agree to join in a Salwa Judum rally provided “it was free of weapons.” Himanshu Kumar was standing by his principled location of being a Gandhian. How could he participate in a movement that had “weapons in it?’
He could, of course, choose to keep quiet about that. He did exactly that from 2005 to 2007 when Salwa Judum rolled out as an illegitimate arm of the state in its war against citizens. He would serve tea to his dear friend ‘Karmaji’ and his bodyguards instead of questioning him on his role in the mayhem the militia had unleashed. The Gandhian Himanshu Kumar would, however, refuse to participate in the Salwa Judum rally at the last moment in protest to (?) his dear friend ‘Karmaji’ bringing in his bodyguards in the same.
That was all about his protest to the violence Salwa Judum was indulging in. He had, by his own admission, “kept quiet’ to the ‘news of violence’ trickling in. He would not condemn Salwa Judum’s violence even when “human rights activists and national and international journalists” begun visiting his ashram “to investigate the role of the Salwa Judum. That those activists included Binayak Sen, Balagopal, Nandini Sundar, Ramchandra Guha, Harivanshji and many others is beside the point.
He would open his mouth only when workers of his own “Vanvasi Chetna Ashram” (notice he calls his Ashram Vanvasi in RSS/BJP language and not Adivasi) start getting attacked. This would, if you must know, be almost two years after Salwa Judum had rolled out. Loyalty demands a price, doesn’t it? That is after his friend ‘Karmaji’ would start attacking him publicly and would, as per the Gandhian’s unverified claims, plot his murder.
No wonders in that as plotting murders came naturally to ‘Karmaji’, Gandhian’s friend. It is just that the target, this time, was self-designated Gandhian himself. That was something to worry about, wasn’t it? So the Gandhian fled Bastar and took refuge in Delhi, the national capital. He would, then, usurp the voices coming from Bastar. Why won’t he as it is much more easier for the state to host a Gandhian , and nonviolent, voice of ‘resistance’ than the Maoists who were waging a popular war against it.
The Gandhian would become a celebrity, a spokesperson of the dispossessed and disentitled masses. He would now start ‘participating’ in protests across India. He would hold press conferences. He would sermon others on the ‘conditions’ in India.
Unfortunately for him, though, Maoists would finally succeed in their ambush and kill his friend ‘Karmaji’. Unfortunately for him, this killing would not evoke the same disdain other killings evoke. Unfortunately for him, the adivasis of Bastar would almost celebrate this killing. This would, of course, puncture the balloon this self-designated Gandhian had blown. He would give himself away by condoling the ‘killing’ of the mass murderer in most personal, and loyal terms.
No, he is not being subversive. Subversion, after all, is a weapon of the revolutionaries. He would rather attempt to be the most loyal servant, not friend, of the mass murderer. He would try to make a human being out of this beast. He would even try to masquerade the murderer as a poor and hapless victim of Raman Singh, chief minister of Chhattisgarh.
He would try to portray his friend as a victim of his circumstances, someone trapped into assuming leadership of Salwa Judum, illegalised and ordered to be disbanded by none less than the honourable Supreme Court of India. And he would give himself away in that for, shrewdly, choosing to not mention the past of the murderer. A past that did not begin in 2009 when the Gandhian, Himanshu Kumar first spoke against the murderer’s militia, Salwa Judum. A past that did not begin, even, in 2005 when he started his militia. It was a past that started in 1991 when the mass murderer had started Jan Jagran Abhiyan. It was a past which the Gandhian Himanshu Kumar has decided to look away from for being dearest friend of the murderer till 2009 until his own friends and employees started paying the price.
Should I say shame on such pretentious Gandhians?
Samar, Programme Coordinator, Right to Food, AHRC, Hong Kong.
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