A big question mark hangs over India’s civilised society. The ongoing shocking persecution of Kashmiris, be it students, workers, tenants, professionals etc in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack is simply not acceptable. Further, it is a sad reflection on the government of the day that the Supreme Court has had to intervene to remind it of its duty to protect the nation’s citizens. On Thursday last, it directed 10 State governments/UTs and their Chief Secretaries, DGPs to ensure “prompt and necessary action to prevent any incidents of threat, assault, social boycott etc. against Kashmiris and other minorities.” This notwithstanding the Centre claiming it had already taken steps and issued requisite advisories and the HRD Ministry denying ‘incidents of Kashmiri students being attacked.’ Obviously, the petition had merit. While it alleged ‘mobs and vigilante groups were engaged in vitriolic hate speech and were attacking and threatening Muslims and Kashmiris throughout the country,” media reports with photographs covering incidents in some States these past few days is additional evidence.
The States put on alert are Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, UP, Haryana, Bihar, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Punjab and Maharashtra. Instances of Kashmiri students being forced to flee back to their homes and administrators of their colleges being made to pledge they won’t admit Kashmiris first hit headlines from Dehradun. What followed was a barrage: 10 Kashmiri students booked and 24 others suspended/rusticated from colleges across the country over “anti-national” social media posts; students in Haryana asked leave after cases of some being assaulted; a senior faculty member of Kashmir origin dismissed from his post; six Kashmiri students of Kushabhau Thakre Nursing College in Bihar expelled under pressure from Bajrang Dal activists; in Ambala’s Maharishi Markandeshwar University Mullana campus, around 110 students forced out of their rented accommodation by locals et al. While the apex court has asked the Home Ministry to give wide publicity of nodal officers’ contact details so that those who need help can approach them easily, there is reason to doubt whether the exercise will succeed. The fear that has gripped the Kashmiris needs to be addressed first. The hate and revenge attacks on ordinary citizens are certainly no traits of nationalism.
Meghalaya and Rashtrapati Bhavan must be cringing. Governor Tathagata Roy’s tweet “I am inclined to agree” with a retired colonel’s boycott call of Kashmir and Kashmiris following Pulwama tragedy, is simply unacceptable. He forgets he is holding a Constitutional office, is expected to act as the custodian of the Constitution and is a representative of the President of India and no longer of the BJP. Though the saffron party has finally distanced itself from the tweet of Roy, its former head of West Bengal unit, there appears to be no word of caution from President Kovind. Far from being reigned in, Roy as Governor openly identifies himself as a ‘Right-wing Hindu socio-political thinker, writer, ideologue,’ in his Twitter profile and his outrageous and insensitive remarks continue to go unchecked. A question that needs an answer is how is his right to free speech different from those university students, who are booked for sedition for their social media posts? His bigotry is said to have helped him get to the Constitutional office, starting with Tripura, where his remarks too raised controversy. The Left, PDP, NC has demanded his sacking When will enough be enough?
Southern Gathbandhan takes off. Both the BJP and Congress have managed to stitch a pre-poll alliance with the big two regional parties in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. On Tuesday last, the AIADMK agreed to give five seats to the BJP and seven to PMK and keep 27 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in TN. PMK will also get a Rajya Sabha seat. A day later, DMK formalised its partnership with Congress, finally giving it 10 seats (9 in TN and one in Puducherry). This after it failed to clinch the deal with PMK. However, it hopes to make up by partnering with VCK, MDMK and Left parties given that talks are underway. On its part, the BJP has committed itself to back the AIADMK in the by-polls to 21 Assembly seats. The people, however, have a third option. Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) is in the arena, but opted to go it alone. Celebrating the party’s first anniversary, Haasan sees himself as an important ‘tool’ and that people must make ‘good use of him for the State’s betterment’. Though time is short and lot’s to be done, Haasan promises “tomorrow is ours.” Is it?
Maha Words, Diff Action
Words come cheap for the Shiv Sena. And who other than its partner, the BJP, would know best. Perennial threats of breaking the alliance and going alone were hogwash. Sena did the opposite. Looking for greener pastures in Maharashtra, the BJP-Sena team pledged togetherness and agree to contest an equal number of seats in Assembly polls and for Lok Sabha, Sena will contest 23 seats and the BJP 25. But, within 48 hours of the signed deal, both are heard bickering again. The Sena claims a condition for the alliance was “sharing the Chief Minister’s post for half-terms each,” whereas the BJP remains firm that whoever wins more seats shall wear the crown. Will there be a walkout? No, as both know that sheer maths forced them to stick with the alliance to beat rivals Congress and NCP and the anti-incumbency factor. Neither should miscalculate and heed what Uddhav Thackeray said after sealing the alliance: “I have already won in the treaty, now we should win the real battle of election.” For only then can he claim his CM crown!
Stop misusing public money and live in your private bungalows, is a directive former Chief Ministers of Bihar can no longer ignore. On Tuesday last, the Patna High Court not only sought to ensure the Supreme Court’s order issued last year is followed but that the ‘have been’ take a cue from their counterparts in Uttar Pradesh such as Mmulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati and save the State exchequer unnecessary burden. The Bill allotting these bungalows for their lifetime, the court said was ‘unconstitutional’ and wondered why they did not live in their private homes when they were provided security there. Records show former Bihar Chief Ministers Satish Prasad Singh (CM for three days in 1968), Dr. Jagannath Mishra (1975-77, 1980-83 and 1989-90), Jitan Ram Manjhi (CM for nine months in 2014-15), Rabri Devi and her husband Lalu Prasad Yadav (1990-2005) enjoying this privilege. How soon they will vacate and oblige is anybody’s guess given Elections round the corner and their luck just might change. — INFA