Democratic fascism

Sunil Ambedkar analyses the implications of the recent violence in the Bihar Assembly

In the history of the Indian democratic System, this is the first time that the ruling party used security personnel and force to shut down the voices of the opposition parties inside the Vidhan Sabha in the state of Bihar.

That this historical event happened on the birth anniversary of Ram Manohar Lohia who famously said that “If the streets go empty, the legislature goes rogue “is a terrible irony. It was also the day when revolutionaries Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru were executed (March 23 in the year 1931).

Members of the Grand Alliance of opposition parties, including RJD, Congress and the Left were agitated over the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 and demanding that it be sent to the Select Committee for discussion but the ruling parties were not ready to listen to them.

Leader of Opposition, Mr. Yadav called for a march against the Bill and rising unemployment, where he said that the “Black Bill” is going to destroy the democracy of the country. With his supporters, he reached the Dak Bungalow and wanted to march to the Vidhan Sabha,

Many protesters, journalists and police officials were injured as it turned violent.The police lathi-charged and used water cannons to prevent people from marching to the Assembly. The situation became very volatile and uncontrolled. A few MLAs of the RJD and its ally CPI(M) fell unconscious outside the Vidhan Sabha premises, Later, they alleged that they were severely beaten up. Another RJD MLA came in front of the camera with his fractured hand and said “Members of the ruling coalition broke my arm in the presence of the Chief Minister,”

Yadav and his brother appeared before the camera and said “We were targeted by police personnel.”At the same time Mr. Yadav was detained and then the situation became normal. After that, Yadav came back to theAssembly and participated in the Assembly session.

There was also a disturbing image of some legislators being pulled by the hair and kicked and male police personnel dragging a female MLA have also gone viral on social media, which is illegal for a male police officer to do.

During the discussion on the Bill, Opposition leaders tried to oppose the Bill and started the slogan “Kala kanoon cancel karo” in front of Vidhan Sabha SpeakerVijay Kumar Singha.In between there was turmoil inside the Vidhan Sabha among MLA withdhakkamukki. Marshals came to maintain discipline but they were not able to maintain peace and the situation spiralled out of control. Singha called police to control the situation.

The Patna DM and SSP came with a huge police force and entered the Vidhan Sabha, and startedlathi charge onopposition leaders. Opposition leaders were injured and they were crying for help but to no avail. Satish Das was badly injured and fell down on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha. He was crying “Take me into hospital.”His supporters managed to call an ambulance and admitted him to PMCH Patna where he was not getting proper treatment. He then called Health Minster Pandey and said “Please do not behave like an opposition Leader in the hospital.”Then he got proper treatment.

Das told the media that the violence was preplanned. “I was targeted by the ruling party because I am Dalit Leader and used to raise Dalit issues. They want to knock down the issues of Dalits and wanted to kill me but because of my supporters, I am alive today, and in the future, I will fight for my Dalit brothers and sisters.”

The violence will lead to personal tensions among MLAs and also increase caste and communal violence in Bihar, because many leaders are coming before the camera and making disturbing statements that shows this violence has created a culture of revenge which is going to destroy the peace and harmony in Bihari society.

Bihar has a history of caste violence and this incident has provoked it once again; the future of Bihar is dark. The people of Bihar are struggling with basic needs like food, clean water, shelter, medicine, education, and employment and the government is not listening to them. This violence takes away from the real issues.

This is a shameful day for Indian democracy. As anthropologist Thomas Blom Hansen put it, India is now a country of low-intensity terror. It is becoming a dictatorship if Opposition parties re going to be beaten into submission. India is not a fully democratic county because we do not have freedom of speech, freedom of marriage, freedom of wear clothes, freedom of worship.

You cannot ask a question from Government; you cannot express your view or opinion.If you raise your voice against the government, you will be called anti-Indian then you have to prove whether you are patriotic or not, ignoring the principles of democracy. Or you will be beaten in public with impunity as this incident has shown.

Sunil Ambedkar is a Dalit activist and social scientist from Gaya. I work in Darbhanga.


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