From ruining the paradise to bringing the hell

Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal. Dated: 10/7/2018 12:57:14 PM

A 38 year old Apple techie was killed by an Uttar Pradesh cop last week for allegedly breaking a cordon. In the last one year, nearly 50 people have been killed in staged encounters by Uttar Pradesh police. Lynchings have become the norm in Uttar Pradesh and several other states, mostly those ruled by the BJP, committed by frenzied mobs over beef politics or mere rumour mongering over social media. Sting operations have revealed the role of cops in protecting the lynchers. In a spate of mob lynching incidents, six people were killed in five consecutive days in Bihar last month. A union minister recently went the whole hog in honouring the lynching convicts at a special function. Mobs have begun taking law into their hands with due patronage of the officials; they intimidate hapless people or go on a rampage over film screenings, film shows and other literary, cultural and intellectual events. Some events are mysteriously called off after alleged pressures from the government. They freely masquerade as self-styled moral police to check the barometric quotient of nationalism of the others and physically and psychologically harm the latter if they are not convincing enough in proving their nationalism.
That such increasing instances of mob violence forced the apex court to recently observe, "Nobody has the right to become a "self-appointed guardian" of law as mob violence runs against the very core of legal principles signaling chaos and lawlessness" is an indication of the deepening malaise. The law maintaining agencies and the country's legal justice system have become virtually blind to such harsh realities of increasing mob violence and police high handedness or police patronage to such mobs.
Action if taken is usually selective and dictated by partisan interests. For instance, the police turned into a mute spectators when Kanwariyas went on a rampage, vandalizing everything that came their way after a car brushed against them in Delhi in August last, or when the Marathas in Maharashtra attacked factories during their agitation for reservations, also in any of the lynching cases. The degree of impunity that lawless mobs enjoy is appalling. So is the level of brutality of the belt force, with the obvious patronage of the political masters, in teaching dissenters a lesson. In May last, 11 workers were killed and 100 injured after police reportedly opened fire multiple times against anti-Sterlite protesters, demanding that the Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi be shut, when the workers turned violent. The most glaring example of police high-handedness has been betrayed in the Bhima-Koregaon case where the instigators of violence, affiliates of the Hindu Right wing, were let off scot-free and reputed civil rights activists and intellectuals, not even connected with the Koregaon rally, were picked up by Pune police and serious offences slapped against them. Bhima Koregaon violence, seen from a partisan lens, is now becoming a pretext for persecuting opposition and innocent activists.
The Tuticorin handling of protests is reminiscent of the streets in Kashmir Valley where even a peaceful protest over something as mundane as power outages and unemployment is met with sheer brutality. Baton-charging is one of the mildest known response, which could go up to random firing. The fake encounter killings of Uttar Pradesh also seem like a page out of Kashmir where innocent people have been so easily picked up, killed and branded as terrorists without a shred of evidence. It appears the tried and tested techniques used with impunity in conflict areas are now being replicated elsewhere and becoming an intrinsic part of the rest of the country. Arresting activists who defend tribal rights on trumped up charges while withdrawing cases against right-wing conspirators who organise violence against oppressed communities, mainly Dalits and Muslims is part of this 'might is right' project.
In Punjab, the police forced a woman to sit atop a jeep and paraded her through her village in Punjab's Amritsar district when they failed to arrest her father-in-law with the explicit aim of humiliating her. A village CCTV footage purportedly showed the woman lying on top of the vehicle and then falling off when it took a sharp turn. The incident is a chilling replica of an army officer strapping a hapless man on the bonnet of a jeep and paraded him through several villages for hours, both with the idea to humiliate him and use him as a human shield against stone pelters, even though no stone pelting incidents were reported in the area. The officer was decorated and curiously, Punjab's chief minister Amarinder Singh, an ex-soldier himself, had lauded the officer's action. For Amarinder Singh, the chickens have come home to roost.
The high degree of reverence shown for the policy of repression and brutality in Kashmir by officials and leaders in recent decades is now rebounding and spreading like an epidemic in other parts of the country. It is partly due to the political choices and desires of those at the helm of affairs today. But partly it follows the natural law of being smitten by the very monster one creates.
Kashmir's scenic beauty was once an inspiration for writers, artists, poets and Bollywood. Its violent and chaotic ambience now mesmerises those inspired by fascist ideology and the desire of damaging democracy beyond repair. For years, the politicians in New Delhi have been harping about Kashmir being an integral part of India. While that remains contested by the Kashmiri masses, Kashmir's landscape of chaos certainly became an intrinsic and integral part of the country. For decades flawed policies of the Indian government have contributed to turning the once extolled paradise into hell. The present regime is now making all out efforts to bring that hell to rest of India.



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