The attack on North Indians on 19 October in Mumbai and Thane by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is a ghastly tale about the degeneration of the Indian political and social system. This is not lumpenism, as many in the media and political leaders are trying to project. Lumpenism can only undertake minor skirmishes. An act of organized violence, where armed miscreants make full preparations to wreak havoc on unarmed innocent people, for no fault of theirs is terrorism. This is exactly what Raj Thackeray's men engaged in the early hours of Sunday, when poor students were resting on the railway platform because they could not afford to stay in hotels.
Al Qaeda relies heavily on cultivating and exploiting a militant Islamic identity, specifically aimed against Western people. Similarly, the MNS relies heavily on cultivating and exploiting militant Maratha identity, specifically aimed against North Indians. History bears witness to how hundreds of thousands have perished at the hands of people led by the commanders of carnage, killing on behalf of their own people. Violence is fomented by the imposition of singular and belligerent identities, championed by proficient artisans of terror. Raj Thackeray is one such artisan of terror. His acts are not another face of the 'criminalization of politics' but 'terrorization of politics.' The softness of the state government and the Mumbai police reveals that they are either terrorized by Thackeray and his ilk, or the government and the police are working in tandem with the terrorists. The lust for power has rendered the central and state governments impotent. Raj Thackeray provides an easy case for Laloo Yadav and Mayawati to seek a ban on MNS. Raj Thackeray has challenged the government to dare touch him. The subsequent arrest of Thackeray on 21 October is a stage-managed drama and nothing concrete is likely to happen.
Are North Indian students at fault when they were simply exercising their constitutional rights? Marathas do have confidence in themselves and they should duly apply for the job and compete for the same. However, Raj Thackeray thinks that he is a King and so do his supporters; therefore, the Railway recruiters should go home and request the Marathas to take the jobs. He is merely interested in building his own political career rather than being a crusader for the rights of his people. He is misguiding the Marathas to make a career in politics for himself by sowing the seeds of discord. It is high time the Marathas understood this, and made efforts to dislodge Raj Thackeray. He must understand that those who live by the gun die by gun. The fate of Hitler, Mussolini and Saddam is known to all.
The Marathas as a community have been truly nationalistic in their outlook and traditions. The whole country is, for example, proud of the contribution of the Maratha Regiment in the Indian Army and its wars. Therefore, they should not resort to such acts of terrorism against their own brethren in the name of sub-nationalism. The entire incident has taken place because of the political ambitions of one extremely selfish person.
The onus now lies on the state and the central government to check such developments in the polity by arresting such opportunists, who are slowly but gradually creeping into the Indian political system. This is essential to create a peaceful environment for Indian citizens. It must be done at the earliest before other motivated individuals take the law into their own hands. The rule of law must be upheld by implementing the rule of knowledge. Only those who have knowledge in the real sense of the term should become leaders of the masses; otherwise, the country will go into the hands of bands of robbers. Exclusion can go hand in hand with inclusion. Therefore, the politics of opportunism must be abhorred and crushed. However, all other Maratha leaders have toed the Raj Thackeray line, lest they lose their vote-banks in their home turf.
One must understand that be it regional or sub-national identity, the forces of bellicose identity can be challenged by the power of competing identity. Let identity be a source of richness and warmth and not of violence and terror, otherwise identity will become a dividing force, which it should not. India should not become the battleground of regional identities and breed gladiators like the Hutus and Tutsis.