If earlier attacks targeted people hurting or insulting religious sentiments, the rise in violent responses to expression of dissent shows political leaders themselves being granted god-like status.
While the BJP is frequently accused of launching attacks against its critics online—trolling has been a standard feature—other parties are emulating this practice. Recently, some of the Shiv Sena cadre assaulted a person in Mumbai for making a post against their CM and party leader Uddhav Thackeray. According to a Times of India report, 25-30 people beat up the victim and tonsured him for criticising Thackeray’s Jamia-Jallianwala Bagh comparison. Although Shiv Sena is not new to this kind of response—Shiv Sainiks had ransacked the hospital of the relative of the girl who had commented on Bal Thackeray’s death—domineering has become common across political lines. Earlier this year, police complaints were filed by TMC supporters against a BJP worker for creating a meme of the TMC leader and circulating it on social media.
If earlier attacks targeted people hurting or insulting religious sentiments, the rise in violent responses to expression of dissent shows political leaders themselves being granted god-like status. The deification has led to party cadre getting aggravated when citizens rightfully question their leaders, having chilling effects on freedom of expression, both online and offline—in the present instance, the victim was beaten up despite having deleted the offending post following threats. In the absence of strict police action, such cases are fast becoming a menace. The amount of frivolous litigation by party supporters against those criticising political leaders has been increasing. The episode reveals the hypocrisy of even those decrying intolerance.