West Bengal (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/GettyImages)
Snapshot
    • A Dhimmi is effectively a second class citizen, living in a state of perpetual fear under the rule of Islamists
    • In the context of a state, a Dhimmi state is one which functions in constant fear of centres of power outside its ambit e.g. a mob

An unusual thing happened after the Kaliachak riots by Muslim groups in West Bengal this January. The rioters vandalised property, and, more importantly, attacked a police station. The most unusual thing was what happened afterwards. Within days, the police station was repainted and almost all the policemen posted there were transferred out.

Kaliachak was being rubbed out of public memory. Why? Because the state did not want to be seen as anti-minority, or accused of being incapable of handling elementary law and order. Best thing beyond denial is to say it almost didn’t happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Dhimmi State. West Bengal isn’t the only one around, but it is a great example.

A Dhimmi is a non-Muslim living under Islamic rule or domination. The word literally means “protected person” or “protected community”, but a Dhimmi is effectively a second class citizen, living in a state of perpetual fear under the rule of Islamists.

In theory, a Dhimmi state is a contradiction in terms. It is usually individuals and minority groups which are Dhimmies in an Islamic, or all-powerful, state. But in India we have Dhimmi states – governments petrified by the power of mobs and organised groups, where its efforts to enforce the law are sporadic and opportunistic.

An effective state is one which has a monopoly on force and violence, and uses them lawfully to enforce the rule of law. A Dhimmi state is one which is overawed by centres of power outside the ambit of the state, especially mob power. Organised groups, criminal gangs, powerful individuals and religious, caste and ethnic communities exercise power through force and violence both within their own communities and against other groups - and even against the state, as we saw in Kaliachak. The Dhimmi state, willy-nilly, cedes a part of its powers to others - and thus is incapable of enforcing the rule of law evenly and fairly.

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Consider what Sagarika Ghose has to say about two “secular” parties that have run West Bengal for 34 and five years, respectively, not by the use of legitimate state power, but illegal goon squads. In a column in The Times of India, Ghose, who is politically anti-BJP and hence by default more favourably disposed to rival camps, says “the Bengali in today’s Bengal lives in perpetual fear”. And the “journalist covering (the) Bengal elections can hardly miss this all-consuming, palpable fear”. (Read her full article here).

In 2013, a man linked to the Calcutta police was shot, allegedly by a Trinamool thug. When the police tried to arrest the killer, it was the Calcutta police commissioner who got canned by Mamata Banerjee.

Bihar under Lalu Prasad was considered “jungle raj”, but to see real “jungle raj” you have to travel further east to West Bengal, where Ghose finds Mamata’s Trinamool and the Left “locked in a blood feud over flag and leader”; there is “no contest of ideas” only a “contest of muscle power.”

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In the Dhimmi state of West Bengal, it is not the state which wields power, but party cadres and their leaders. Power resides outside the formal contours of the Dhimmi state, which is a petrified entity living in fear of the thugs who rule over the masses.

In that other Left bastion of Kerala, the police cower before political brigands. The CPI(M) has been busy murdering and maiming RSS cadres in Kannur, but it is the police who live in awe of these killers - not the other way round.

According to J Nandakumar, an RSS media spokesman, some 232 of 267 murders of Sangh activists over the last 50 years were carried out by CPI(M) thugs - which is four or five political murders every year. He accuses the police of conniving with the Left, and even if we discount his numbers and his claims of police bias, not all of it can be wrong. The state is not on top of law and order. Left cadres rule the roost in many areas. Pinarayi Vijayan, who could be Chief Minister if the Left wins the current assembly election, is himself an accused in one of the first political murders in Kerala.

The case of Sadanandan Master exemplifies this reality. An RSS worker who is now a BJP candidate for Koothuparambu constituency, Sadanandan saw both his legs being chopped off by CPI(M) goons in broad daylight in 1994, when he was just 30. The reason: he had switched loyalties from the Left. The Sangh took its revenge directly, and killed a Students Federation of India leader the same day in front of his parents.

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The Dhimmi state has allowed private parties to wield violence directly against their enemies. Real power often lies outside the police force.

Some time back, Irfan Habib, the Left-wing historian, compared the RSS to Islamic State (ISIS), a brutal organisation that runs parts of Syria and Iraq through sheer violence and misogyny. Maybe he will find a closer resemblance to Islamic State in the Left, the CPI(M) in Kerala and West Bengal.

But the Dhimmi state is not just about the Left-leaning regions of West Bengal or Kerala. Almost all Indian states are Dhimmies. Consider how the Haryana government handled the violent Jat agitation which sought job reservations. Faced with the might of mobs, the police just vanished in many places, according to this Indian Express report. One senior police officer was quoted as saying: “Even after protesters turned extremely violent, we did not get any orders to use force. It was not a situation that could not have been tackled with cane charges or firing of teargas shells.”

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Does the police need a nod from the government to maintain law and order?

Or take another quote from the same Express report: “Policemen just vanished from the scene. Some did not even bother to step out of their vehicles, while protesters went on looting shops and burning buildings,” another officer was quoted as saying.

The Dhimmi state of Haryana had Dhimmi policemen facing aggressive mobs. If we go back far enough, 1984 and 2002 would have been no different.

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Or consider Tamil Nadu, where both major political parties kowtowed to the LTTE when it was a terror in Sri Lanka, fighting for a separate Tamil Eelam. Even today, the Tamil Nadu government thinks freeing Rajiv Gandhi’s killers will bring in LTTE-sympathisers’ votes. In Punjab, the killer of a former Chief Minister is treated as a popular hero. Fear of public emotions addles political minds in these Dhimmi states.

Dhimmitude reached its zenith during UPA rule, where we even had a Dhimmi as Prime Minister. Real power rested outside government in the party boss, and Manmohan Singh was the subservient PM of India.

We also have Dhimmi parties. Most Indian parties are run by one powerful leader (or his or her family), and parties are nothing if not subservient to the top boss. Consider J Jayalalithaa, M Karunanidhi, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar, Naveen Patnaik, Chandrababu Naidu, Prakash Singh Badal, Uddhav Thackeray, Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah - the lot. Will these parties even exist without these leaders? Barring the BJP and the CPI(M), power is wielded by individuals or dynasts. Most Indian parties are Dhimmies.

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Dhimmi parties and Dhimmi states make it not only easier for mobs to rule, but allow business cronies to capture economic power (as it happened during UPA rule, and is still not fully rooted out). Worse, different actors on the democratic stage can abuse their powers to usurp the legitimate power exercisable by other parts of the state. During Indira Gandhi’s time, the executive emasculated both parliament and the judiciary. Today, the judiciary has emasculated both executive and the legislature.

India needs to bring in the rule of law and abandon the idea of the Dhimmi state. A Dhimmi state is a weak state, and a weak state will be a tyrannical state, which will use draconian laws to deal with ordinary law and order issues. We need “azaadi” from Dhimmitude.

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