• Ranjona Banerji: Beware! Cow people are watching

    Ranjona BanerjiApr 19, 2017, 06:08 IST

    Police fire tear gas shells on stone-pelting students in Srinagar on Monday. Pic/PTI
    Police fire tear gas shells on stone-pelting students in Srinagar on Monday. Pic/PTI

    Democracy is a great thing. It makes Donald Trump president of the US of A for instance. And in India, cows have started winning every election.

    When it's not cows who are in charge, it's people who like cows. They are in charge. And if it is not people who like cows then it might be people who think you should like cows. They are in charge. And if it's not people who think you should like cows, it's people who think you should get beaten up and killed if you don't like cows.

    It could also be people who think you should like goats. They could also be in charge. And when I say "in charge" it means these people might beat you up for not liking goats. They are in charge. In fact, anyone who thinks you should like what they like, they are in charge. And when I say in charge, I mean they can beat and murder you in public, which even Trump can't do. What is the price democracy when the President of the United States cannot ban people he doesn't like but can only ban laptops from place he doesn't like?

    When it's not bashers, murderers and cow people in charge, it's trolls on social media. These trolls could be patriotic TV journalists, patriotic Indians who don't live in India, patriotic Indians who are not Indian citizens, patriotic Bollywood singers, patriotic former IT people who run meat export companies and are studio guests on TV all the time...

    A regiment of the Indian Army tied a man in front of a jeep and drove through the streets of a part of the Kashmir Valley last week, during an election. The Kashmiri had gone out to vote but was picked up as a "stone pelter", beaten, trussed up, tied to the jeep and paraded as a lesson to what happens to "stone-pelters". This hyphenated moniker refers to young Kashmiris who have over the past year attacked armed forces and security personnel in Kashmir with stones. The retaliation came in the form of pellet guns. The result has been a disaster as far as Kashmir relations go.

    For internet trolls though, most of whom are patriots, there is only one point of view - pro cow and pro armed forces.

    A former Lieutenant General of the Indian Army somewhat foolishly thought he knew more about the way an Armyman should behave than Internet People and Internet Patriots. Human shields, this former Lieutenant General seemed to feel, were a bad idea which would "haunt the Indian Army and nation".

    Immediately, everyone - all Patriot Cow People of course - knew more than the retired Lt. General. As a journalist, I know for sure that someone who covered the Kargil war knows everything about Kashmir and war, much more than anyone else. And all Patriotic Cow People know more than journalists, one learns every day on Twitter. Also, few are more patriotic than Bollywood singers and a few actors.

    One Bollywood person - no one knows what films he has ever made but he is very patriotic and is part of the film certification body - said he wished the retired Lt. General had been beaten up in Kashmir because then he would know how soldiers feel. This is a supposed filmmaker from Bollywood telling a man who headed the Northern command of the Indian Army how to think.

    The Bollywood singer was better: The former general was a "Pakistan supporter" who deserved to be beaten up.

    The patriotic journalist lectured the former Lt. General on human shields. The former IT HR head and current TV personality and long-time meat exporter - but a proper Cow Patriot - questioned why the Lt. General wanted Indian soldiers to be lynched by terrorists.

    Of course, while all this was going on, no one has been arrested for the recent murder of a certain dairy farmer who was transporting his own cows. The Cow Patriots decided that the "offender" may have been heading to kill the cow and, therefore, thrashed him so badly that he died a few days later.

    Few Troll Cow Patriots were bothered by this. They spend their time scouring social media for proper causes like a young woman who made a case for freedom of speech to harass. Or now, even better, a former Army general to humiliate.

    And then there's Donald Trump and North Korea.

    Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @ranjona Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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