‘Get Out of My Country’ shouted the US Military Veteran as he opened fire on two Indians, one who was killed on the spot. This tragic incident has been condemned by large sections of Americans, one of whom was injured in trying to stop the man, with a fund being created subsequently to help the young wife take her husbands body back to India. Americans have donated generously, even as sections of the media have condemned the attack as a manifestation of the larger Donald Trump ‘we will reclaim America’ politics.

“Go to Pakistan” has been the Indian variant of the same, more lethal as it is backed by mobs which do not hesitate to attack organisers of functions, beat up peaceful protesters and/or enter homes and lynch. The American right has so far, limited itself to street attacks in terms of physical violence with the US President being held accountable by the system at different levels. The media in particular, has risen to the challenge and turned into a watchdog that Donald Trump has no idea how to control.

Go to Pakistan, Get out, repeated over and over again by the right wing mobs as they beat up students, as they attack protestors, as they thrash and lynch,is not a simple catchphrase. It packs the politics of the right with dissenters being subjected to physical violence by specific groups such as cow vigilantes, love jihad groups, and others. Muslims yes, Dalits of course, but the sights of the Right are equally set on college students with the ABVP becoming the body through which the campuses are sought to be controlled.

The concerted effort is to subjugate the student community that is not proving to be as easy as the suppliant media. As in Ramjas college where the ABVP squads were sent to first stop a meeting to be addressed by students from JNU, and then to beat up protestors demanding justice even as the police lined up to protect the assailants. The faculty too was not spared, with the ABVP students clearly under instructions to cross all boundaries of lawful behaviour. This is a sequel to the attack on the students in JNU two years ago with the ABVP now appearing as more organised, more violent with girls having been inducted into its ‘active’ ranks. A Professor, for instance, has spoken of how she was attacked by a girl who was a student of hers in college.

The Opposition needs to beef up its response. And the leaders need to introspect and emerge with a new strategy that takes the growing challenges into account. The old responses of a statement here, and a speech in Parliament means little in the present scenario where the students need to be protected and supported. The media has given up without even trying, and cannot be counted on to challenge the ‘get out of my country’ sloganeering unlike the US media that is still trying to live up to the responsibilities inherent in the profession.

(Photograph from the Indian Express)