Sena Mobocracy

As the Shiv Sena stokes the fires of communalism, parochialism and other uglisms, Shahrukh Khan remains unfazed.

Siddharth Varadarajan writes

When confronted by the mob power of the Shiv Sena, MNS or other right-wing groups, the police in India invariably give in to their demands, no matter how irrational or unreasonable, and force the targets of their illegal pressure to give up their rights. So art galleries anywhere in India think once, twice and a hundred times before exhibiting a single painting by M.F. Hussain, movie hall owners agonise over whether to show ‘controversial’ films or not, screenplay writers and movie directors allow politicians, pundits, granthis and maulvis to vet their projects before they are launched, scholarly works of history are banned because their contents do not conform with the cherished hagiography of some group or sect, writers like Taslima Nasrin are hounded out of the country by mobs who claim to have been offended by books they have never read, shops fear to stock Valentine cards because of threats by self-appointed guardians of morality and ‘Indian culture’.

To me this is a law and order issue. Regardless of whether the protesters are right or wrong, if they go from protesting to rioting and arson, the police must act swiftly and decisively.

In India this is not as simple an issue as it might seem like. There are too many people, typically unemployed youth, who will gladly participate in a riot for the money. If the risk of being injured in a lathi charge goes up, all that will change is the asking rate for a rioter.

But letting the rioters destroy public and private property is just not an option. It subverts our freedoms and creates an alternate extra-governmental power center. Don’t feed the beast.


  1. Swapnil Pundle says:

    This type of political violence will not end by police arresting the protestors. Action needs to be taken against the leaders who organize protests that lead to violence. But alas! This won't happen.

    The only long term solution seems to be improved education along with meaningful employment. People must finally refuse to be a part of such violent protests.

    Does this type of political violence take place in more developed countries where unemployment is much less? I suppose no.

    Finally the maharashtrian in me must add ….Pls do not single out the Sena or the MNS for violence and arson. Every political party in India from Kanyakumari to Kashmir is guilty of this. The Sena and MNS are only creating a lot of noise but no real violence. I can vouch for the fact that not a single working day has been lost in Mumbai for the last 2 years because of political violence. No Bandhs and no holidays!!


  2. Anon says:

    Interesting quoted someone from The Hindu, sitting at the capital of "Dravidian empire"=Chennai. (well the call seems to have come from Delhi…God)


    Just by quoting someone from the Hindu and that also from TamilNadu, surely you diluted your post ;-(

    Those who live in glass house, should not throw stones at others.

    Or the eternal one when Raajkumar says:

    "Jaani, Jinke ghar sheeshe ke hon, woh dusron par pathar nahi phenka karte".

    Funnily, our home minister also says it is "pernicious" to MNS/Shivasena and opposes to talk in "Hindi" when he presents the budget for "Aam Aadmi". I wonder how many Indians speak English???


  3. nikilmittal says:

    In India this is not as simple an issue as it might seem like. There are too many people, typically unemployed youth, who will gladly participate in a riot for the money. If the risk of being injured in a lathi charge goes up, all that will change is the asking rate for a rioter.

    Totally agree with you ….And to add to all this Media wich is hungry for controversies will not leave behind any news that will get it eye balls .

    God save India :-))


  4. Roopesh says:

    While watching some clips the MNIK premiere in Abu Dhabi, it occurred to me that the Sena is being played for fools by SRK & co. Their nasty response and bigoted statements are actually part of the marketing strategy for the movie. This is my reasoning:

    – Who is the best target audience of this movie? The movie is about an autistic guy who falls in love with a normal girl; and because of his name (Khan) gets tangled up in a terrorism investigation. There are millions of educated affluent people in Middle East, Africa and South Asia , as well as the diasporas in the UK and US, who will appreciate the movie and identify with the character. They know discrimination, being singled out at airports when they travel; and hate being branded with the stigma of terrorism because of their name and religion. They have their own prejudices with respect to India due to Kashmir, Gujarat, Mumbai etc. SRK being a global and successful star with ancestral roots in NW Pakistan, is a big icon for them.

    – It is too serious and off the beaten path to have a good run in India. The educated metro audiences might like it, but only up to a point.

    – Hence the marketing strategy for the movie is to stir up the emotions of the target audience by bringing in a villain to threaten the movie's star.

    – The Shiv Sena makes the perfect patsy. They are clearly in decline and desperate to hang on to their core support base. They are limited to only Mumbai and Maharashtra and cannot do anything anywhere else. It doesn't take much incite them to make bigoted statements, threaten violence etc., which is guaranteed to get massive publicity globally.

    SRK set them off with a simple innocuous statement about Pakistan cricketers at IPL. He will now reap the rewards with MNIK. Smart guy!


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