No Auschwitz. No gas chambers. No exile and extermination camps. Delhi was not Gaza where the Zionist state was bombing innocent citizens and performing mass execution. There was no such raid. But millions were left dead. Millions stood aghast: horrified and humiliated. Yes, the virus was there but it was everywhere. It did not have any special dislike for Indians.
Who could have ever thought that a genocide could be organised in such a calm and composed manner — in a saintly appearance, in saffron attires, in ‘Mann ki Baat’, in genocidal satires? Who would have thought that a crime against humanity could be managed in such a magnanimous way that the monument of the nation and the bodies of the masses would mound together in the making of a brand-New India?
The Central Vista Project should be memorialised as the Mausoleum of a Historical Indian Macabre. If the name hints at something Islamic, then for the sake of the Hindu nation, name it Bhartiya Loktantra ka Bhavya Shavdahgrih (The Great Mortuary of the Indian Democracy). The building should burn in the memory of the nation so the act does not get repeated again. Or, let us reclaim the oldest civilisation and name the new town Mohenjo-Daro (mound of the dead).
When the roads were empty and the cities were turning into ghost towns, rivers were floating with dead bodies, much like the dead fish floating in ponds after being poisoned. The dead were walking in the dark silently, their bodies buried under sand so the image of the nation does not get sullied. Death and destruction were expected in the pandemic but the humanitarian exodus that unfolded in front of us was not. Tragedy was expected but the nakedness was not. The meaning of life and death becomes meaningless and the Aristotelian tragedy loses its plot against the Indian ploy as neither the nation nor the king was ready to mourn. And the chorus kept singing praises of the king.
How many deaths will you count, how many deaths will you mourn, how many bodies will you bury, how many bodies will you burn? Not one or ten but millions have died. While the sources remain mum, some said one million. Some said five million. Some said more. The real numbers will never be known. The leader said that we were faced with an invisible enemy. It seems therefore the death had to be invisibilised too. The numbers are true to the spirit of genocide — bodies after bodies piled up; lying in the potholes; appearing out of nowhere like ghosts; disappearing like the holocaust; filling the mortuaries; falling from ambulances as a sign of the last protest — the dead losing not only life but also dignity. It is nothing but a genocide.
We know the stories of the holocaust. How many dead were paid last respects during the Holocaust? Bodies were purged. Bone crushers were used to turn the bodies into dust. Ashes were thrown into the rivers. The RSS chief has already said, there is liberation in death. Historians count the bones, not the dust, smoke, sand and water that take the bodies away. What Yogi is doing is not new. He is perfecting the genocide in its gory details. By removing the shrouds from the bodies, he is performing the genocide in letter and spirit.
Genocide is the dead-end of the body, spaces and possibilities. It is the name of infinite atrocities. It is the number that cannot be counted. It is the loss that cannot be surmounted. It is about deaths that cannot be solemnised. Tears dry, our eyes become a camera without tears. It sees; it ceases. Life becomes archives.
The real casualty was not happening in emergency wards but in the casual responses of the state. The government’s attitude was to let the genocide happen. There was no sense of remorse, no acknowledgement for the mass deaths. The message was clear. We don’t care about the deaths. We only care about our image, power, and perception. While people were fighting the pandemic, the state was fighting the perception.
It would be trivialising to say that it was a case of a missing leader or the melting away of the state. It is not enough to say that the state did not anticipate the spread. So, do we really believe that the party and the system that can manage every booth in elections could not arrange beds? The party that can arrange Kerosene oil, LPG gas and arsenals to carry out carnage after carnage could not arrange oxygen cylinders? The party that can buy MLAs and MPs did not have money to buy vaccines? The Prime Minister of the nation who can afford a luxurious plane and build a grand Vista does not have money to vaccinate his citizens? For once, let us accept that the government was not prepared to handle the pandemic. But it was never even the nation’s priority. Their priorities were set. The elections are coming. They will be out soon. Standing with you arms in arms. The loss will soon be forgotten in the glory of the nation.
Neither the government nor the leaders disappeared. When was the state absent? They were there. They were everywhere like the Gestapo keeping their eyes on people from their barracks. They were removing the posters. They were shutting up complaints. They were busy silencing the dissenters.
It was an innocent holocaust and an extraordinary genocide because it has been performed in an extraordinary way. We have learnt that to organise a genocide, one does not need to build gas chambers or extermination camps. One does not need to send people in exile. Simply switch off the supply of oxygen and leave people gasping. What the Nationalist Socialist government of Germany could not do; our nationalist government did in the most ingenuous ways.
After the migrants’ exodus last year, one anticipated that when the situation became difficult, they would be left to die. The massacre of Muslims in the capital, was a reassurance that minorities will be murdered at the will of the majority. And they will be blamed for their own deaths as bio-terrorists carrying COVID-19. Of course, the poor who cannot afford health facilities will die carrying the Ayushman Bharata in their bodies. But nobody would have thought that the middle class and the Hindu upper castes—the cheerleaders of the nation will have the same fate. Their tears will not move the Hindu Hridhay Samrat. One did not expect that the divine citizens of the Hindu nation would beg for oxygen. And even the elites would die looking for ICU beds. This was indeed an extraordinary genocide.
Yes, this is the case of an extraordinary genocide, without branding or identifying social or ethnic groups. Irrespective of their positions, everyone was taught a lesson. Everyone was shown their place. They all were out like denizens in the dead of the night. They were made hapless, helpless and half. They were made vulnerable. Their sense of pride was taken away. And Boom. Their self was shattered like a mirror falling from the wall of fame. They should never forget this fall.
But who knows they may feel more obliged to the nation as they felt during demonetisation? Who knows if Hannah Arendt’s reading of fascism comes true again, “more people die, more legitimacy is conferred upon the Fuhrer as a strong leader”. It has happened before. One can only hope it does not get repeated again, hope that the genocide does not get harvested like the riots.
Genocide is a symptom of a dead society. There can be only new dawn after the genocide. As it happened in other parts of the world. The tyranny has to end. We cannot take it anymore. The world has to be reimagined — in words, in bodies, in thoughts, in actions, in dream and resistance.