Everyone has the right to protest in a democracy, but violence and use of force are not justified
Unless the country is taken into confidence and an atmosphere of trust is built, even the most well intentioned move would evoke resistance. The atmosphere has become so vitiated as if the country is in a state of crisis. The government enacted Citizenship Act, triggering an atmosphere of suspicion. Before the matter could be controlled, violence spread across the country. Many parts of the country are on fire. It is difficult to say how far and wide the fire will spread. Many have lost their lives in a clash between police and protesters.
Before discussing this subject, I want to make one thing clear that I seek solution to every problem through the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi. Thus I am opposed to all forms of violence.
Our democracy certainly allows us to speak, protest and demonstrate in a peaceful manner. Nobody should have any objection to this, but there should be no place for violence. Therefore, in my view, all those who are burning buses, throwing stones and damaging public properties are culprits. In my view, it is also a crime that the police enter university campus without permission and lathi-charge the students and lob tear gas shells. A student lost his eye.
The question is, why did the police, instigated outside, target the students inside Jamia Millia Islamia? Why did the police enter the library?
We have the example of Mumbai where the police showed great self-restraint during the protest. Thousands turned up for the morcha but there was not a single untoward incident! Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve and Joint Commissioner of Police Vinay Choubey should be praised for keeping law and order under control.
But the biggest question is why did the fire of protest break out? I feel that even among educated people, the number of such people will be very less; who know what is this Citizenship Act or what is the issue of NRC. So when people do not know properly, then the crowd will accept as the truth what may be just a rumour or hearsay. Therefore, if a cloud of suspicion over the CAA has arisen, it is the responsibility of the government to dispel it.
When the Citizenship Act was being passed, the government should have anticipated the adverse reaction across the country. Preparations should have been made for this in advance.
Just as the government had made restrictive arrangements in Jammu and Kashmir before removing the provisions of Article 370. The government should have prepared the whole country for the introduction of the citizenship bill and explained in detail what it stood for. The Opposition should have been taken along. Media, social media and youth should have been taken into confidence. I feel that this step can still be taken. I am happy that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi categorically said on Sunday that there is no need for the Muslims in India to worry and that there was no discussion at all on NRC after 2014.
Merely accusing the Opposition of inciting people is not enough. There is always involvement of political parties in protests and movements. Sometimes BJP, sometimes Congress, sometimes Left parties and sometimes regional parties are involved. This is also natural within democracy. Everyone has the right to speak, write and put forth their side. In the same way, opposition should also be accepted. The ruling party should observe restraint and it has been the time-honoured tradition in our country. And yes, North East India is fighting to save its culture today; we should share their concern and give them assurance about the protection of their culture. There is no need to blame anyone. And how ironic that we have said that minority Hindus are being persecuted in Afghanistan! Did we need to say that? Afghanistan is our most favoured nation. Every year we are spending three billion dollars and we are big stake holders there.
On one side, Afghanistan is called friend and on the other side we hurt it with such allegations! This is not fair.
And does it suit the stature of India that our neighbour Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan cancel their India visit after being hurt by the allegations.
I believe that the BJP’s election manifesto included issues like Ram Mandir, Article 370, triple talaq, Uniform Civil Code, driving out illegal immigrants, Population control. On the basis of that, the BJP also got a landslide victory. It formed the government. The main job of the government is to work for the welfare of the people. Political issues cans be addressed later. Today there is a need to tackle the economic condition of the country on priority basis. There is a need to help in sustaining the industries so that the Prime Minister's big dream of ‘Make in India’ can be fulfilled. There is a need to create employment. Ensuring that everyone gets work and sufficient food sis the fundamental task. Just as the Congress enacted the Act of ‘Right to Food’, ‘Right to Education’ and ‘Right to Information’, the present government should pass the accountability bill to ensure that the responsibility of every department and every officer is fixed to make sure that the public work is expedited.
And yes, keep in mind that while 80 per cent of population is Hindu, there are 20 per cent who constitute minorities. Hindus are elder brothers but the Indian Constitution gives equal rights to all. Those who framed the constitution included people from all classes and ideologies. They were scholarly people. They drafted the best constitution in the world after long and deep deliberation. It is the duty of every Indian to protect the Constitution.
This article was published in Lokmat Times, Lokmat Samachar and Lokmat Marathi daily across the state of Maharashtra. Here are the epaper cuttings: