ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reckless Hindutvavadi 'Patriots'

Following Uri, what emboldened the Hindutvavadi "patriots" to stridently gun for military action?

We do not know the context in which Samuel Johnson made his oft-quoted pronouncement that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Certainly, he was not indicting patriotism in general, but false patriotism and the false patriot. But why rake up what that celebrated person of letters said way back in 1775? Well, the Hindutvavadi nationalists in power at the centre and in a number of states are behaving just like the kind of “patriots” Johnson probably had in mind. In India today, self-designated desh bhakts are a dime a dozen—in the corridors of power; in the corporate media, especially among the talking heads and anchors on satellite television, as also among the op-ed and editorial writers in the print media; in the parties in power as well as those in the opposition; and among serving and retired senior officers of the military. There are so many of them that it is hard to keep count.

And, of course, in India and in Pakistan, both of whom claim sovereignty over the whole of Kashmir even as they trample over the rights of the Kashmiri people, such “patriots” are baying for each other’s blood. This in the wake of the 18 September attack by four “terrorists” on an Indian military base in Uri (not far from the de facto border of Indian-administered Kashmir with its Pakistan-administered counterpart), that killed 18 Indian soldiers, and in which the four attackers also perished. In what is by now standard official practice, almost akin to Pavlovian conditioning, New Delhi immediately claimed that the four “terrorists” were from Jaish-e-Mohammed (New Delhi has been demanding a United Nations ban on this outfit) and that Islamabad had a hand in the operation.

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