Delhi puts a big question mark on ‘New India’. The riots should make both its people and the government hang their head in shame. Importantly note what Delhi High Court said on Wednesday last viz the mayhem on the streets of north east Delhi: “We cannot allow another 1984 riot.” The court drew the attention to the State’s highest functionaries saying they have to be “very alert,” and expressed displeasure over delay in registration of FIR against BJP leaders, who allegedly gave provocative speeches leading to the horrific mob attacks. Indeed, the nation’s capital stands battered in the communal riots in the area, which saw till Thursday last 34 dead, at least 330 people injured, many of them grievously and trail of destruction of homes, businesses, mosques, schools, commercial buildings, vehicles et al.
Clearly, Home Minister Amit Shah and the police under him let down the people, with some media even saying what was being witnessed was a repeat of 2002 Gujarat riots! This perhaps made Prime Minister Modi step in and finally appeal for ‘peace and brotherhood’, breaking his silence after three long days! He put National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in control and fortunately security forces seem to have contained the mob violence and regain control of the affected areas. The Supreme Court too has given a hard knock to the Government and the Delhi Police for failing to act “professionally” and to check “unfortunate incidents”. Unmistakably, the riots could have been contained, if there was a will. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem the case. The police force was inadequate and allegedly at places looking the other way. Other than victims being from both communities, the fourth estate—the media too faced the brunt of apparently the ‘hindutava’ forces. Many a journalist/cameraman was heckled, beaten, footage and pictures on their cell phones destroyed and worse asked to reveal which community they belonged—Hindu or Muslim! Obviously, there was an attempt to gag the media from informing the nation and the world what was transpiring. But the hooligans were not successful. Delhi has hit gory headlines for days and the riots will be etched in its history. Will calm prevail and if so how soon? The bigger question is will the wounds heal and will the two communities be able to bury the past?
Kerala Bans Protest in Campuses
Kerala High Court has put a spanner in student politics. Its verdict on Wednesday last was firm: ‘strikes, rallies and gheraos that affect regular classes should not be held on the campuses of schools and colleges.’ The reasoning: those who aren’t participating in the strike have every right to attend classes and nobody should force them to participate in agitations that affect smooth conduct of classes. The ruling came amidst few private schools in Pathanamthitta petitioning a restrain in student politics, saying while the court had banned politics on campus earlier too it wasn’t strictly implemented and students were suffering due to frequent disruptions of classes during strikes. The order also said ‘campuses can have peaceful discussions and sharing of thoughts in a peaceful manner and students and others who force students to take part in strike can be dealt with law as it was infringement of the basic right of the student.’ Obviously, the verdict is being opposed by student organizations affiliated to all political parties. These argue it will impact students’ rights and their plan to carry out peaceful protests, which are part of democracy. They have appealed to Vijayan government to file an appeal. Perhaps many more may knock on his door given that campuses across States are hit by the anti-CAA protests.
Bihar No To NRC
Bihar appears to have subtly upset the applecart. Chief Minister and JD(U) President Nitish Kumar has affirmed his position and said a big no to the NRC and got partner the BJP to support it too. The State became the first of the NDA partners to take a stand in the Assembly. On Tuesday last, he got the Assembly to pass a unanimous resolution against implementation of the NRC, but in favour of the National Population Register (NPR) exercise to start from May 15. However, here too Nitish said the NPR exercise would be conducted only under the 2010 format, which did include questions dealing with individual’s date of birth and place of parents and last residential address. Interestingly, Nitish’s deputy Sushil Modi did a damage control by stating that Prime Minister Modi has already clarified there wouldn’t be an NRC and NPR would be done as per 2010 format. This was a clear retreat as recall Home Minister Amit Shah had in December asserted there would be a nationwide NRC. As for CAA, Nitish says it’s a Central Act and is being dealt by Supreme Court. No more tussle hopefully should be a relief for BJP?
Rajasthan Rise in SC/ST Cases
Rajasthan’s Congress government must squirm in embarrassment. The State recorded highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs/STs in past 10 years. Police data claimed the number in 2019 was 8,591 as against the closest figure in past decade of 8,415 cases in 2014 under BJP’s Vasundhara Raje’s tenure. It also suggests a rise of 50.67% in atrocities against SCs/STs in 2019 as compared to 2018, when it was 5,702 and worse there is a 47.47% rise in crimes against Dalits. The reasoning is two-fold. One, the police are bound to register FIR whenever a cognizable offence is reported to it as per Supreme Court guidelines, though these may not necessarily be correct. Two, cases now are getting highlighted in social media and the media making it difficult for the police to side with the accused as happened in the past. A recent case in point is the alleged horrific assault on two dalit youths on suspicion of theft in Nagaur district wherein a screwdriver is said to have been inserted in the anus of one of them. Not only did the case draw sharp criticism against Ashok Gehlot government, but has given a handle to BJP that law-and-order has steadily deteriorated since Congress came to power. The Congress refutes saying every case is being registered now. Sadly, both sides miss the woods for the trees. Can they spend energy on ensuring safety of SCs/STs rather than on scoring brownie points?
Amaravati For The Poor
‘Bahujan Capital (for weaker sections) or Sarvajan Capital (for all) is how Amaravati, planned as a top-notch Capital, may instead be called. With Chief Minister Jagan Reddy turning upside down his predecessor Chandrababu Naidu’s decisions, farmers and poor see hope of living in an upscale environment. Instead of high-rise buildings of commercial complexes, global software firms, multiplexes, star hotels, foreign institutions, sports complexes, iconic towers of NRIs, headquarters of corporate, sprawling theme parks and vast network of roads with multi-level flyovers, etc, there will be “sprawling residential colonies for weaker sections”. On Monday last, the government authorised Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority to earmark 1,251.51 acres of land in six villages in Amaravati capital region to be distributed among 54,307 BPL families, for each home in 48 sq feet, apart from shops/homes that would come in plots allotted to farmers, who had given their lands for the Capital. The launch is on March 25, Ugadi (Telugu New Year Day) under the “Navaratnalu-Pedalandiriki Illu” (Houses for poor as part of Jagan’s nine-promises). Well begun is half done! ——INFA