12 Jun 2011

Justifying the crackdown at Ramlila Ground

      On June 4th as the clock ticked form 11:59 PM to 12:00 AM the Delhi Police stationed itself at the Ramlila Maidan. What was to follow was to be dubbed as one of the worst incidents ever to happen in a democracy like India. Allegations were made against the government. People warned that we were returning to the Emergency Era. The Delhi Police had raided the maidan, many protesters were injured and Baba Ramdev was taken to Dehradun. 

      The crackdown received criticism far and wide. BJP President Nitin Gadkari said, "Home Minister P Chidamabaram has replaced General Dyer who had massacred peaceful agitators in Jallianwala Bagh during the freedom struggle". LK Advani termed this police crackdown as "naked-fascism". Human Rights groups demanded answers from the government.

      All in all the government was cornered but not even for a moment did anybody think about all of this from the government's point of view. Maybe it was the sudden excitement that people found themselves surrounded by or maybe it was the collective anger that people had for the government. Nobody was happy. Rising prices, corruption and what not. Something had to give. And thus the government found itself to be a lone woodcutter in the forest, surrounded by hyenas ready to tear apart the woodcutter. 

      I admit that the crackdown may have been a little too harsh but it was what was needed. I believe that the constitution grants the government the right to crackdown on such protests if it feels that it may disrupt civil peace or cause civil unrest. I feel what the government did was totally justified. If you come to think of it all, if any damage had been done to public property had the protest gone out of hand thenn who would have had to pay for it? We would have had to pay for it from our pockets. Our taxes would have been used to pay for it all and I for one refuse that my money be used to pay for damage caused because of a Baba whose total net worth is over a 1000crore Rupees. 

      Another argument that the people raise is that 'Women and children were harmed'. I find this argument to be the dumbest of them all. Doesn't everybody go about claiming that women and men are equal? So why this special reference to women alone. It's a bit strange now that I look at it carefully. And the children. It is unfortunate if any children were hurt but at the same time only the parents are to be blamed. I have to still meet a single parent who would take their child along to such a place when they know that the issue is going to get very political. Of course many would defend the parent's action by saying that the parents took the child because their future was at stake. OK fine if at all the future of their child was at stake even then I would say that not a single person I know would take their child to such a place. They would go themselves but not a single parent would allow any harm to come to their child.

      After the crackdown, we saw BJP protesting against it. A clip of Sushma Swaraj was being aired by news channels which showed her dancing to supposed patriotic tunes at Rajghat. She defended herself aggressively by asking whether it was a crime to dance and sing patriotic songs at a place like Rajghat where the father of our nation was cremated. Even if we allow patriotic songs but still dancing at a place like that is condemnable. That is a place where one should remain silent and show his respect for Bapu. And however much you claim that you were simply singing and dancing to songs in praise of the motherland, it does not explain why you had the urge to dance to whatever patriotic song that you were dancing to at Rajghat. There is a time and place for everything. I for one regard it as a clear cut insult to me and to every Indian because of the special place that Bapu holds in our society.

      Many critics of the government compared the India under UPA to China. I for one find this comparison both silly and childish. It is strange that people are able to criticise the government like that and still say that they are living in China. I really doubt if in China people are even seen or heard of after they have made such a statement against the government. Comparing this incident to the Tienanmen Square protest or to the Tahrir Square protests is nothing but an insult to those protesters who bravely fought their regimes in the hopes of having a better tomorrow. I don't think that this crackdown evoked any feeling of being that helpless that one compares it to the those valiant protests that happened in China and Egypt respectively. People claimed that all the politicians had Swiss bank accounts. That statement too is dumb. Did they go and get the bank statement of those individuals? Why do people insult politicians just like that? Agreed that politicians are public servants but still you do not own them. Our democracy can be best described as a restaurant where the Prime Minister is the waiter and he has to come at one call as soon as he is summoned by any Tom, Dick and Harry. What the people do not understand is that he has got much more important things to attend to like administrating this huge country of ours.

      One of the many factors that makes me critical of Baba Ramdev's protest is the fact that the man travels in private jets even though he has taken sanyas. This one thing alone makes me not want to believe whatever he says. Besides, what is left of a fast after you have taken some honey and lemon juice? Also not to forget all this fasting was like holding the government to ransom. I for one wonder what would happen if an unstable person tomorrow undertakes a fast saying the government must bomb some country for all the atrocities that it is committing on India by means of terrorism. If the fast gets good publicity then many idiots would also join the protest. At that time a crackdown would be needed. We can't simply bomb a country and then hope that they won't nuke us.

      This fasting incident made my Grandma nostalgic. She told me that when she lived in West Bengal, almost every single day there would be a strike or a fasting by a group of workers wanting a rise in salary. They claimed that they were being made to work a lot and not being a paid a fair amount. What was the result? At times when the strike would go on, the company would go bankrupt and shut down. Hence all of them would lose their jobs while the Union Leaders were taken care of by political parties with vested interests. A similar thing is happening in India. Every single day somebody goes on a fast for some issue or the other. He is endorsed by celebrities who at times simply fail to understand the fact that adding their name to such a campaign would have a broad effect and many people would join in the fasting without actually being aware of what the core issue is.

      Thus all in all, promoting such things is not going to be beneficial to anybody despite whatever people may claim. I hope this article succeeded in telling you guys that if you want to protest against something then fasting is not the way to go. You can do rallies. Sit at the pavements and shout slogans, protest. But this thing of holding mass protest is not good. It won't do the country any good. Police forces would be diverted to ensure that these protests don't turn violent or to ensure the safety of the leaders from things like ensuring the security of the common man, terrorism and robberies. So even though the constitution grants us the right to protest but it is up to us to understand, be reasonable and to protests in a way that does not hurt the economy, administration or anything for that matter. If we are to all grow old together in this great country of ours then we must find ways to let out our anger against the government in respectable and acceptable ways.