“The image of our Prime Minister stuck on the flyover seems so unreal, so straight out of a dystopian novel that I can’t believe it really happened,” my colleague told me. “It will take me a long time before I can shake it off my mind.”
For millions of Indians, it will remain a moment of deja vu, a moment so unreal, suspended in time like nothing else that it can be compared to in recent Indian history. Political leaders have been stopped, blocked and shouted against by Indian people, but never where the intent was to terrorize and to give a message that we are here to warn and harm you.
This is psychological warfare, carried out with precision in an organized way that tells us that the enemy this time is different and we have perhaps entered into a new era of warfare.
Psychological warfare is different from other kinds of warfare. It is more subtle, invisible and its purpose doesn’t become clear easily. It is cloaked in a cover of apparent banality, harmlessness and deception that makes it look like a small incident and whose meaning doesn’t become apparent immediately. An example is of Yasser Arafat and Israel. He had been carrying out terror attacks against Israel from secret hideouts in Lebanon. He was shifting his residence every second day to avoid being killed by Israel. The Israeli intelligence were aware of his movements and decided on a unique strategy. They paid him back in the same coin. They knew where he was hiding and each time bombed the house next to the one in which he was hiding. It was to let him know they were aware of his movements and yes, they could kill him any time they chose to.
After a few bombings in the above style, Yasser Arafat, the terrorist was a nervous wreck and so was the entire PLA. The fear and terror that the Israelis have infiltrated us, can kill us when they chose to went so deep in their psyche that they were unable to do any more terror attacks and fight. They became a victim of learned helplessness and surrendered, giving up the fight without a shot being fired.
We are facing a similar warfare in India. There is a growing awareness that Modi ji cannot be defeated frontally, through elections in straightforward manner. More than anything else, the symbolism of the present attack shows a deeply disturbing trend and its implication runs deep. The few protesters blockaded him but chose to not come any closer. They didn’t become a crowd and surround him, something they could have done easily. They tried to terrorize him knowing he is surrounded by only a few commandos and the police on their side, still didn’t choose to come close and attack. The goal was to let him know ‘yes we can reach close enough to you and harm you when we want to but this time we are letting you go’. This is classic terror tactic perfected to a hilt.
More than anything else the symbolism of the present attack runs deep. The leader of the largest democracy in the world stopped by a motley group of protestors for over twenty minutes and forced to go back. He is surrounded by hostile protestors and a police that turned into a collaborator. A perfect example of the rot that runs in some Indian states controlled by the Congress whose hatred for the Prime Minister knows no bounds and may go to any length to get him out of the way as they can’t do it through legal means.
All heinous crimes are either classified into organized or disorganized ones in terms of strategy. Organized crimes are marked by clockwork precision, small number of people involved and the motive being banal, presented as something else apart from the one intended. The present blockade of the path of Prime Minister is a classic example of that. A small number of people, with the collaboration of police, managed to block his path. They surrounded him, but didn’t come any closer. They didn’t become rowdy, remained calm and didn’t raise violent slogans as they got him within grasp. The goal was to reach him, to show he is not invincible and let him go. They came close but didn’t choose to attack or harm him. The goal was to show ‘yes we can reach close to you to harm you so be warned. We take one step at a time and we are reaching nearer to you each time’.
What was the goal of the entire operation? It was to mock him, humiliate him, to humiliate all those for whom he is an icon and show he is not invincible, that his feet maybe even made of clay.
The mocking that began after that is a classic pattern of psychological warfare. Make it fun and banal so that people can laugh at it and don’t take it seriously. This is hatred of the worst kind, the kind that Germans made it perfect with Jews. The banality of evil is one step away. The Prime Minister’s statement, ‘Tell your Chief Minster I am going back alive’ is leaden with poignant meaning. It means he realized the extent of the threat in those twenty minutes that he was subjected to, the message of the perpetrators and protestors.
Terror can paralyze the psyche of a nation and its people and has done so for us as a nation. It is far more potent than convention methods. Terror has been used to control us for the last one thousand years. Whether it was Jallianwalla Bagh, the Cellular Jail or the destruction of our temples, universities, the goal was to see that Indians remain paralyzed with fear and don’t rise above their predicament. The same is true today. Isn’t it time that we teach this to every school child in India so that it never repeats again?
Last but not the least I would like to point towards a factor that we should not overlook. The strategy involved in the whole operation, the level of planning and execution points to an ideology, a thought process that cannot originate in our immediate neighborhood. It points towards an attempt to brainwash us into fear, to paralyze us so that we remain passive as a nation and don’t dream of our nation reaching greater heights. It is not difficult to imagine who that may be.
Psychologist, Speaker and Author of ‘The infidel Next Door’