It was a dictum of Nazi propaganda minister Dr Joseph Goebbels that the bigger the lie, the more easily and readily will the gullible public swallow it. In fact, Goebbels had learnt this from Adolf Hitler, who wrote in his autobiography, Mein Kampf, that a lie to be accepted should be so big that no one would believe that anyone would have the impudence to say such a thing if it was not true, and if this lie were repeated again and again, one day, the people will inevitably accept it as the gospel truth.
A large section of the Indian authorities and shameless and sold-out sections of the Indian media are loyal disciples of Goebbels, whose dictum they dutifully follow. Consider the following:
(1) The members of Tablighi Jamaat Markaz of Delhi have been castigated by many TV channels as 'super spreaders' of coronavirus, 'corona bombs', 'corona jihadis’ and so forth. The Tablighi Jamaat leader, Maulana Saad, has been painted as the devil, though even a little cool and rational deliberation can tell us that at most the group could be called negligent, but certainly not deliberate spreaders of the disease.
(2) It has been publicised in many TV channels that Tablighi Jamaat members spat on doctors, defecated in hospital wards, misbehaved with nurses, threw bottles of urine, demanded chicken biriyani and so forth. These have been false, cooked-up and ridiculous allegations, but a large section of our gullible people have swallowed these claims (since a big lie is swallowed easier than a small one). That Tablighi Jamaat members, who recovered from COVID-19, have donated their own blood plasma for needy persons is given little prominence by our media.
(3) Former JNU student Umar Khalid has been depicted as a villain, who arranged for firearms, gave provocative speeches and organised anti-Hindu riots in Delhi. These are all laughable allegations, but readily believed by many since Umar is technically a Muslim (though he professes to be an atheist).
Many more such examples can be given.
A typical 'big lie' technique adopted by the political leaders nowadays is to brand as 'anti national' anyone critical of them and slap sedition charges, or the NSA, against such critics. Thus the 82-year-old Farooq Abdullah was arrested in August 2019 on the charge of inciting Kashmiri youth to pick up arms and rebel against the government and secede from India. These were absolutely false and egregious charges, since Farooq Abdullah has been known to be a staunch Indian nationalist all his life who was always opposed to secession. Similar absurd charges were levelled against his son Omar and against former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, former IAS officer Shah Faesal and other Kashmiri leaders.
Similarly, totally fabricated charges have been levelled against the Bhima-Koregaon accused, who are still incarcerated.
Former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar has been charged for raising anti-national slogans at an event in JNU, when there is no proof he ever raised such slogans (many of the videos of the event were found to be doctored) and in any event, raising such slogans is not by itself a crime.
Pawan Jaiswal, a journalist—who reported that children in a primary school in Mirzapur district in Uttar Pradesh were being given only roti with salt as midday meal—was booked on a charge of criminal conspiracy.
Many more such examples, reminding one of the Mad Hatter's party in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, can be given.
Where this trend will end, no one can say, but it certainly does not augur well for Indian democracy.
Justice Markandey Katju retired from the Supreme Court in 2011
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK