Not Everyone’s An #UrbanNaxal; Here’s How To Spot The Genuine Article

by R Jagannathan - Aug 31, 2018 11:44 AM +05:30 IST
Not Everyone’s An #UrbanNaxal; Here’s How To Spot The Genuine ArticleJNU student protest (CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/GettyImages)
  • The purpose of Urban Naxalism is to sever Hindus from their heritage, so that a deracinated people have nowhere to look for leadership except the Naxals.

The term Urban Naxal, now going viral after a book by film-maker Vivek Agnihotri with the same title, appears to be getting the goat of the Lutyens ecosystem. While Agnihotri invented the term based on his experience of boycotts and ostracism by his own fraternity in Bollywood over the release of his film Buddha In A Traffic Jam, the term has now been expanded to include so many people that it has become a cussword.

So, it is not surprising that attempts are already being made by card-carrying Urban Naxals like Arundhati Roy, to delegitimise the term. Yesterday (30 August), a gathering of essentially anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), anti-Modi activists, including Roy, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani, banded together under the banners of the People’s Union of Democratic Rights and the People’s Union of Civil Liberties, to protest against the Pune police’s arrest of five Maoist sympathisers and activists for allegedly plotting violence. At least some of those arrested bid fair to be lumped under the label Urban Naxal.

The arrested include Gautam Navlakha, who has in the past taken the hospitality of ISI-funded Kashmiri separatist groups, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, who have been in jail for various alleged crimes in the past, and Varavara Rao, a Maoist poet with revolutionary leanings, who too has been to jail in the past. Only Gonsalves has been actually convicted for the possession of arms and explosives. All those arrested are now under house arrest – and not in police custody - under Supreme Court orders till 5 September.

At the meeting to protest the arrests of these “human rights activists,” the participants went out of their way to delegitimise the Urban Naxal tag as an attempt to divide the people and curb dissent.

This is a joke, for no one has done more to divide the people (pitting Dalits against Hindus, Adivasis against non-Adivasis, farmers against city folk, workers against employers, minorities against majorities) and curb dissent than some Urban Naxals themselves. In fact, Agnihotri’s book Urban Naxals is the story of how an illiberal Bollywood cabal and the Campus Left sought to suppress his right to an independent view on intolerant Naxalism. For the illiberal Left, there is only one narrative – their own; no other narrative can even be articulated. There is only one kind of freedom of speech – their own. The rest are undeserving of the right.

However, there is some validity to the argument that the term Urban Naxal should not be used indiscriminately to stick the label on anyone who disagrees with the current government or the BJP. This is thus as good a time as any to give the term a sharper focus. While Agnihotri, the populariser of the term, may have his own definition, we need to give it a more neutral meaning so that it is not used to rubbish all dissent and legitimate criticism of the BJP or its leaders.

The term Urban Naxal has several underlying connotations, but a key strand is its covert or overt Hinduphobia. A mere critic of Hinduism or a genuine atheist is not an Urban Naxal; he/she is someone who critiques only Hindus or Hinduism but not any other religion or belief system.

The second element of the definition is its urban nature; the Urban Naxal, as the very term suggests, is an urban intellectual who couches essential Hinduphobia in politically correct terms: like critiquing an Amarnath yatra for the damage it may do to the ecology, but never the Haj, which is even more damaging; like going hammer and tongs after practices in Sabarimala in the name of gender equality, but never against anything similar in Islam or Christianity; like reducing Hinduism to Brahmanism, but never other religions to Papism, Evangelism, Ulema-ism, etc. The purpose of Urban Naxalism is to sever Hindus from their heritage, so that a deracinated people have nowhere to look for leadership except the Naxals. They are cultural vandals of Hinduism.

The third, related characteristic of the Urban Naxal is his modus operandi. He, or increasingly a she, will take an extreme stand on freedom of speech (FoS) selectively; if the target is Hinduism, FoS has to be absolute; if the target is someone else, then FoS has to be limited, and often condemned as communal bigotry.

A fourth strand of the definition is anarchist. All kinds of disunity and discord will be defended as freedom, never mind what it does to the country; all kinds of violence in the name of the poor will be condoned or ignored; the human rights of everybody except the police and security forces will be defended, never mind what the provocation. Their target is the state and its emasculation, for unless this is done and anarchy prevails, no one will look to them for leadership.

Urban Naxals have emerged from the woodwork as Rural Naxalism is dying. Most rural people have seen Maoism and Naxalism for what they are: a violent and anti-people ideology that leaves only death and destruction in its wake. They are thus migrating to urban areas for a livelihood, leaving behind the false promises peddled by Rural Naxals. Urban Naxalism is intended to destroy the urban nirvana that the rural poor seek. Their goal is to wreck urban India, and its job-creating potential. Babasaheb Ambedkar asked Dalits to leave their villages and their slavery behind; the Urban Naxal has followed them there to ensure that Dalits are not mainstreamed. Urban Naxalism hopes to become the nemesis of Ambedkar’s dream.

In one line, the Urban Naxal is a Hinduphobic cultural vandal, an anarchist who uses sophisticated and politically correct terminology to sow discord in society and profit from the resulting deracination and chaos to create a fascist and authoritarian regime like the ones created by Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. They will label their opponents as Hitler when holding a mirror in front will reveal the picture of a man with a truncated moustache.

Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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