Centre, states pass the buck?

Mob Violence & Lynching

By Insaf

Who will bell the cat? The Centre or the States as mob violence and lynching continue to cause nagging unease across the nation. While the Supreme Court on Tuesday last asked Parliament to pass a law establishing lynching as a separate offence with punishment, the Centre says it is States’ responsibility as law and order is its subject. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha that he had already sent two advisories to all States-in 2016 and 2018-to take action to prevent such cases. However, there appears to be little impact as the latest victim of mob violence was Swami Agnivesh, mercilessly assaulted in Jharkhand by members reportedly belonging to the BJP’s youth wing. The rumour was that he was aiding the tribals through the Christian missionaries in the State. This confirms, at least what Rajnath further said: unverified reports, fake news spread through social media is a trigger and the Centre has asked social media operators to keep a tab in order to stop spread of fake information. However, there is a nagging fear that such action could be misused and that the citizens right to freedom of expression could be further curtailed. While time will tell whether the government treads cautiously, both the States and Centre must work in unison. More so as the apex court termed the recent incidents of lynching and mob violence (against Dalits and minority community members) as “horrendous acts of mobocracy”. Such recurrent pattern of violence cannot be allowed to “become the new normal.” Is anyone listening?

Haryana’s Costly Mistake
Haryana becomes wiser and is making up for its losses. In the last eight years, the State has lost Rs 2.87 crores, due to ‘misinterpretation’ of legal provisions and ended up paying income tax of its legislators! Now the Vidhan Sabha secretariat is busy recovering the amount from 140 MLAs, both present and former. Thanks to an RTI by a lawyer regarding how much income tax was being paid by the MLAs, did the government realise its mistake. It was paying IT on both the “salary and the allowances” of the MLAs, whereas under the Haryana Legislative Assembly (Salary, Allowances and Pensions of Member) Act, 1975, the tax on salary had to be borne by the MLAs. Thus, as per calculations Rs 20,000 per month is being deducted per month from each of these beneficiaries and those drawing salary from January this year, Rs 7,000. Will the exchequer get a full refund is the big question.
Maharashtra Milk Stir
Maharashtra can heave a sigh of relief. Dairy farmers called off their four-day strike on Thursday night after the Fadnavis government gave into their demand and announced the rate of Rs 25 per litre for milk from July 21. The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna, spearheading the agitation, had called for the supply blockade in urban areas which obviously had an impact. With a number of dairies crippled in the State, people had started feeling the pinch. For example in the Pune region, there was only 25 lakh litres of milk collection on Wednesday, as against the normal procurement of 65 lakh litres daily. The agitators had also been camping on the Maharashtra-Gujarat border to prevent milk tankers of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, (brand Amul), from entering the State, as a result the railways had to run milk special trains from Gujarat to Mumbai! Fortunately, the government did well to act rather than literally cry over spilt milk.

J&K CBI Googly
New Delhi throws another googly in Jammu and Kashmir. This time aimed at the National Conference, which has been asking for early elections in the State. On Monday last, the CBI filed a charge sheet alleging ‘criminal conspiracy and breach of trust’ against former Chief Minister and NC President Farooq Abdullah along with three others in the J&K Cricket Association case, wherein Rs 43.69 crore was misappropriated. The timing is what raises eyebrows. Way back in September 2015 an FIR was lodged, following J&K High Court’s directive that the case, filed at a Srinagar police station in March 2012, be transferred to CBI! The BCCI it is said had given the Association (Abdullah was its president) Rs 112 crore for cricket promotion during 2002-2011 and of this, Rs 43.69 crore was ‘siphoned off.’ While Abdullah, in London has said he has ‘full faith in the judicial system’ and ‘will cooperate’ with the proceedings, his son Omar tweeted “I have no doubt my father will be found innocent & free of any allegations of wrongdoing.” It goes without saying the case has political ramifications and will be watched closely.

UP’s Confusing Signals
Uttar Pradesh is sending out confusing signals to the Opposition brigade’s unity efforts for 2019. First, BSP supremo Mayawati gets top party workers to start propping her as Prime Ministerial material candidate. The ‘Dalit ki Beti’ should now be the face of Indian politics, was the clarion call at the Lucknow meet on Monday last. “The party is working on a definite strategy. The entire country wants to see Behenji as PM”, is what party Vice-President JP rolled. However, 24 hours later, he is shown the door! Apparently, in his penchant to please her he ruffled feathers, particularly in the Congress camp, which too is getting vocal as Rahul Gandhi being the next PM. Singh said: “Had rahul looked like his father, he could have had a chance of success in Indian politics but he turned out like his mother, who is a foreigner. His blood is foreign….” This would obviously make Mayawati go pink with embarrassment or see red. After all, she needs to keep the Congress and others in good humour. Predictably, this is not a good beginning.

Kerala Temple Row
No more ifs and buts for Kerala government. The doors of the famous Sabarimala temple should soon be open to all women, irrespective of age in God’s own country. On Wednesday last, the Supreme Court observed: “What applies to a man applies to a woman” and a “woman’s right to pray was not dependent on any law but it is a Constitutional right”. Further, it found no rationale in the bar against women in the 10-50 age group, as menstruation could be before 10 years and menopause before 50. The Court was also peeved over the State’s change in stance and recalled that in 2007 the LDF government was in favour of women entry, but in February 2016 the UDF government was against it, and in November 2016 the LDF government expressed support and was doing so now too. Guess whatever the rituals, customs and observances the Travancore Devaswom Board, which runs the over 800-year-old Lord Ayyappa temple, may use as an argument, these may no longer hold good. The verdict hopefully will give thumbs up to gender equality.—INFA