Don’t be in denial about Genocide!

1. One precondition and a feature of any genocide is an unshakable belief that such is not possible. Not just in the minds of the victims but also of the perpetrators. It might surprise many that Nazis did not think of, or plan to, kill all the European Jews and Roma. (Nor did they actually managed to kill all of them. A quarter of the European Jews survived). This is very reassuring, isn’t it?

Calling this inconceivability it a precondition for Genocide might SOUND like a circuitous argument, but it isn’t. Denial, in every sense of the word, is a constitutive element of ethnic cleansings and Genocides.

2. A Dalit Marxist comrade of mine likened the so-called North-Eastern states would be for Hindu Nazis what Eastern Europe was for original Nazis. As these tangled geographies and histories demonstrated, time and again, all parties in an internecine fight, as an understandable response to an unchosen condition, have reasons to indulge in their aggression for self-protection, acts of vengeance, preventive attacks. In this communitarian Hobbseanism, balance sheet usually highlights the most successful criminal, who does more what everyone is doing. This is a situation where the most self-less tend to be most fanatical, intransigent and murderous.

3. If the explosion of the stupidity, refusal to reason, concern for others, consequences of one’s preferences for others and elsewhere on facebook commentators is any indication and reflective of the sensibilities on the ground, the next government at the center is either BJP again or the next government does not fundamentally change the situation (asserting the residents are by definition citizens), the North-East is going to be our Balkans.

I am not referring only to the open murderous slogans and demands from the people Hindu Nazi party and its affiliates. As in the case of Balkans and Balkanization, the poets and cultural creators who sung the praises of every day and the innocence of life, the humanist Marxists who struggled to break out of the rigidities of totalitarianism, the good samaritans, with their rather limited but genuine ethics of care who paved the way and participated in the mass murder and mayhem. Right in the middle of the European map, in the late twentieth century.

4. Citizenship lists are not like census data collection, population transfers are not like displacements of development projects, dislocations, and relocations and statelessness such demographic engineering projects, basically the fantasies-turned-policies “cumulatively radicalize”, until the point of no return when the only rational solution to the mess created is to dispose of the people off the horizon.

Utmost criminality unseen by the unconscious complacency in the minds of the shrill advocates in defense of the Registry is the idea that none wants to kill anyone. If Genocide is about “with an intent to destroy…”, there is not yet a genocide in Assam, surely not any progressive or nationalist in his wildest dreams thinks of such a possibility. But the groundwork for ethnic cleansings and Genocide is laid and the unstoppable process begins more likely when no one wants such outcome.

Deleting the huge number of humans off the face of the earth is not as easy as delisting them from the registry. As Hilberg and later many others demonstrated, the physical destruction of humans begins with a mere definition of them.

Threatening millions of humans with the stripping of their citizenship and extending it to the whole country is exactly like the issue of Nuclear weapons, it is all others who have more, in fact, all, stakes.

5. What is most deadly is not even the monstrous registry and its eventual extension everywhere in India, but the response of the loudest and the poetic of the Assamese progressives and nationalists. While laying out the infrastructure of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Assam as well as everywhere else, they rightly deny that they don’t want mass murder.

To repeat, for a mass murder to happen, you don’t need an intention or a plan to want it, the suitable conditions created for it to occur for something else is enough. In fact, a non-murderous idea actually helps and hastens the process far better.


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Chittibabu Padavala Written by:

Chittibabu Padavala is a Dalit Activist and Journalist

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