When the government’s top law officer feels it necessary to use the courtroom of the Chief Justice of India to articulate anxiety and frustration over what “no civilised country will tolerate” it cannot be seen as anything but a scathing and embarrassing, indictment of the crumbling of the law-and-order maintenance apparatus across the country. What makes that indictment even more telling is that there are religious, political and sectarian undertones to the three “specifics” mentioned by Mr KK Venugopal ~ the recent hooliganism of Kanwariyas, the violence and death-threats over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavaat, and the agitation for Maratha reservations in Maharashtra. And if North Block opts to reiterate Rajnath Singh’s pet alibi of law-and-order being a state subject, it has to be pointed out that the prime offenders in the Attorney-General’s book ~ UP, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Maharashtra ~ all have BJP-led state governments, and the Delhi Police functions directly under the control of the Centre. All of which tells a tale of ineptitude, or worse. Their Lordships added to the lament of the Attorney-General, but in the common man’s perception, they all “ducked” the big one: the lynch mobs that continue to run riot, despite political statements and a judicial directive to legislate a preventive remedy. Is that, possibly, because governments are reluctant to direct the police to do their mandated duty ~ lest it cost them the votes to which the political leadership accords such critical priority, and 2019 is less than a year away? For religion-oriented violence is one charge the NDA cannot level against the policy-paralysed
UPA of Manmohan-Sonia.
The nation awaits the outcome of the two committees the home minister announced to curb mob lynching: meanwhile violence continues in the garb of “cow protection” (surely those animals need protection against being forced to forage for food at garbage dumps?), and politicians endorse the violence courtesy their silence. There is nothing new to the annual pilgrimage of Kanwariyas but over the last couple of years alcohol and drugs have become part of the trip, and many of them wield baseball bats as their mascot. The cops do little to control their movement on highways and busy streets, in UP they even shower them with rose petals: a politicised/ religion-indoctrinated police has implications too scary to mention. Yet it seems part of a larger game-plan ~ no wonder Muslim villagers “moved to safer places” when a flood of Kanwariyas approached. And vehicles were damaged, torched by young folk carrying sacred water home. Little purpose would be served by recalling the threats to kill the producers of ***Padmavaat*** or to cut off the nose of the actor who played the heroine ~ except to underscore the Attorney-General’s point about a “civilised society”. Something, alas, not promised in the election manifesto.