Mob Violence With Political Support Will Destroy India
At the very outset, let me begin by expressing my heartfelt condolences for all those who have lost their lives in the huge violence that broke out following the bandh call given by several Opposition parties in protest against the Supreme Court landmark ruling insulating the government servants from the indiscriminate and gross abuse of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. No amount of money and no offering of job as is the tradition in India after allowing mob violence to go on unchecked will ever heal their wounds nor will the departed souls ever be brought back to life! Their life stands devastated because of this “Bharat Bandh” calls and perpetration of violence which snatched away their near and dear ones for no fault of theirs!
It was on March 20 that the Supreme Court delivered landmark ruling in case of Dr Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v The State of Maharashtra and another by ruling that government servants cannot be arrested without prior sanction of a competent authority. It is not hidden from anyone as to how much this Act has been notoriously misused to settle scores. This alone explains why Supreme Court decided to speak up after nearly 30 years of it being enacted into a law!
More to the point, twenty eight years after the enactment of the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court on March 20 tweaked the law to protect innocent people from the sweep of its draconian provisions which denied anticipatory bail to an accused and led to automatic arrest. To be sure, from now on, it has been made mandatory by the Apex Court that the arrest of any citizen under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, will require a written approval from a police officer of the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police (equivalent to Additional Commissioner of Police) who will record reasons why an arrest is necessary. It has also been stipulated that where a public servant is involved, the approval must come from the appointing authority. Even at the stage of registration of a case, it will be open to police to conduct a preliminary enquiry (by a DSP rank officer) and not proceed in cases where allegations are found to be frivolous or motivated.
Further, as an additional safeguard to check the blatant abuse of the provisions of the SC/ST Act, the two Judge Bench of the Apex Court comprising of Justice Adarsh K Goel and Justice UU Lalit noted that when an accused is arrested and produced before a Magistrate, the concerned court can apply its mind to ascertain if a prima facie case under the Act is made out. Based on its conclusions, further remand or detention of the accused can be refused. Section 18 of the 1989 SC/ST Act did not allow an accused to get anticipatory bail.
What wrong has the Supreme Court said? Why is there so much of brouhaha and hullabaloo over such a reasoned and well-drafted judgment which is primarily to only check the abuse of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989? Did the Supreme Court scrap the whole Act?
What is wrong if the Supreme Court has inserted some guidelines to check the blatant misuse? Should we all not respect the decision of the Supreme Court? Should we not abide by it?
Even if we are not satisfied then we have the option to file review petition. But why political parties instead resort to calling bandhs, strikes etc. and resort to unprecedented violence, attacking whoever comes in the way and not sparing even hospitals, ambulances and women and children? Can any civilized and democratic country allow all this to go on unchecked, unabated and unpunished?
Why all political parties keep pandering to violence unleashed by mob and give hundred reasons justifying it? How long will India tolerate this kind of gory violence, stopping of trains forcibly, setting fire buses, vehicles etc, rampaging police stations and not sparing even courts as is being reported in Meerut in all news channels? How long will all this be justified in the name of “right to dissent” and political parties leading such unruly mob and then blaming it on other parties? Is this the way to dissent?
How long will Supreme Court, Parliament and Government keep tolerating all this silently? How long will Government keep kowtowing in front of mob violence? How long will mob violence be allowed in our country to go unpunished, unabated and unchecked? How long will mob violence be justified by saying that, “the voice of people cannot be crushed”?
How long will unruly mob be given the licence to indulge in violence, setting shops on fire, vehicles on fire, trains on fire etc while leading protest on roads, rail tracks etc? How long will we proudly call ourselves civilized even while doing just nothing to check such unprovoked violence in the name of protest? How long will mob be allowed to disregard the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of our country and instead Supreme Court itself will be forced to review its judgment by filing review petition?
How long will politicians be allowed to give their supporters free hand in mercilessly beating up innocent people, setting vehicles on fire, roughing up even women, girls and children? How long will politicians be allowed to instead blame everything on supporters from other parties and justify their protest on streets which mostly always results in huge violence but which is mostly not so much reported in media except when it breaks out on a very large scale as we are seeing right now before our own eyes? How long will all this be allowed to go on in our country?
now all limits are being crossed. Political parties are openly allowing their supporters to carry rods in their hands to beat people, smash window screens and do all sorts of violence to forcibly coerce people to listen to their diktats even while masquerading as peaceful protesters! Centre is quick to announce filing a review petition against the Supreme Court order but why does it always keep a deafening silence on the lives lost in the violence unleashed by various political parties? Is Centre not indirectly guilty of abetting them by just doing nothing or precious little to check this menace?
Why is there no deployment of forces in time whenever such bandh calls are given? Why are goons allowed to do openly on streets what terrorists trained in Pakistan cannot do openly? Why attacking of hospitals, ambulances carrying patients, railway stations etc taken most lightly by Centre which alone explains why we repeatedly see such naked dance of violence, hooliganism and destruction every time when bandh calls are given? Why the Centre is expert in lambasting judiciary for crossing its limits by indulging in judicial activism but itself does nothing to contain the violence which results from such bandhs as we saw just before our own eyes like a helpless spectator?
Why Centre is not realizing that our international image is getting battered every time such violence and killings are allowed to go on in the name of “Bharat Bandh”? Why Centre takes very lightly the attack on foreign tourists just like they were attacked now when some of them were travelling in a bus in Azamgarh who with great difficulty fled after saving their lives from goons openly roaming on the streets? Which foreign tourist will like to come in such lawless country where supporters of political parties are given open licence to indulge in vandalism, violence and destruction by not doing anything to arrest them well in time?
Why can’t protest be done in a simple and dignified manner? Why is there an increasing trend to resort to streets violence, bandh calls etc whenever any ruling comes against any particular group? Why instead of resorting to legal option do parties resort to bandh calls which gives a golden opportunity for goondas and lumpen elements to openly mix with the crowd and indulge in such horrible violence that even terrorists would feel ashamed of by not sparing even hospitals, sick people, small children etc? Is this is what is “Shining India”?
Why such goons feel that nothing will happen to them as they enjoy political support? How can politicians be allowed to do with India what Britishers could not do? Even when Britishers were ruling India no one had the guts to indulge in such naked dance of violence? It has to be said with deep regret that the rule in India 70 years after independence is worse than what it was in British India!
Why is Centre maintaining a deafening silence on it and speaking only about filing of review petition against the Supreme Court order? Why no preventive steps are taken well in time especially in lawless states like UP and Bihar? Why “blame game” has become the favourite game among all political parties?
Why should those parties who call “Bharat Bandh” not be asked to compensate for all the violence unleashed by their supporters during such bandhs? Why should those parties not be banned from contesting elections for at least 10 or 5 years so that no one dares to ever allow their political supporters to go on rampage, violence and destruction? Why even Supreme Court is taking just no initiative on it?
Why is everything being watched like a helpless spectator who says “Saab chalta hain” and waiting yet again for some party to again give a bandh call and again their supporters mocking at “rule of law” by openly brandishing weapons and using them to unleash violence on streets and not sparing anyone who come in their way? Why Centre and States are allowing all this to happen right under their very nose? Do they have any right to rule India if they can’t check mob violence and if they can’t make adequate laws to check mob violence?
all this has been allowed to go on unrestricted and unpunished for which both Centre and concerned States are responsible where violence is allowed to cross all levels just like we saw now in Bihar, UP, MP among other States! Mercilessly children and women are killed by this mob who takes to streets on bandh calls being given by their political bosses! This unruly mob has no fear of any law left in their mind!
To say the least, it is because of this unchecked mob violence with active political support that really makes me to shudder to think of India being destroyed right in front of my own eyes not by China or by Pakistan or terrorists sponsored by it or by Britishers or by any foreign power but by our own politicians with the support of unruly mob whom they lead with unrestrained confidence that no law, no Judge, no court not even Supreme Court and no jury can ever touch them because they are above everything else and they can compel even the top court to toe their line! All good politicians, good Judges, good lawyers and good citizens must now join hands and save India from being destroyed completely by mob violence with political support! If we fail to act even now then we too are complicit and guilty of allowing goons and mob to completely destroy India with full political support!
By Sanjeev Sirohi