Saturday, December 8, 2001
S T A M P E D  I M P R E S S I O N S

Checking lawlessness
Reeta Sharma

HARYANA is rapidly going the Bihar way. I have expressed similar apprehensions in this column earlier too and today I again give a wake up call to all those who are concerned and those who have the authority to tame this wave of lawlessness.

A tour of just one district, Rohtak, is enough to confirm and substantiate my fears and apprehensions. A group of school teachers say that they no longer hang their sling bags on their shoulders. "We now carry our purses in polythene bags or wrap them in some crumpled cloth because purse-snatching has become common here."

Commenting on the ever-increasing practice of mass copying during examinations in Haryana, teachers said: "What can we do about it when parents and members of panchayats come flocking to the examination centres and command us to allow their children to copy? Pleadings, logic, appeals in the interest of their children fall on deaf ears."


Only recently, two nurses of Rohtak Medical College were put on duty to withdraw payments of Class IV employees. The moment they came out of the cashierís office, two boys, who were obviously keeping an eye on their movements, snatched the bag containing the pay before fleeing.

In another incident, about 50 computers and 20 air-conditioners were stolen from Rohtak University and the local Jat College.

None of these theft cases have been solved so far.

A well-known orthopedic surgeon, Dr Ishwar Singh, received a ransom note demanding Rs 30 lakh. Thankfully, the ransom seekers in this case were arrested. "But there are a large number of private doctors who are receiving such threats and they have been paying to buy peace," reveal sources.

Meanwhile, I am advised by one and all to leave Rohtak during day-time. "Night travelling is full of risks. A number of idlers ó boys from villages ó sit in groups near speed-breakers and loot cars and travellers," residents warn me.

If you would like to believe that these might be only aberrations then allow me to give you the following cases which indicate the ground reality ó of the involvement of youths in criminal activities ó Haryana:

General Secretary Dahiya of Chhottu Ram Polytechnic College was killed in broad daylight on the college premises in front of members of the staff and students. Yet, not a single witness came forward to speak about the murderers because of fear and threat to their lives.

Recently, Devender Koch, leader of a studentsí union, was also killed in broad daylight at the examination centre where he was appearing for law exams. It is believed that he was killed because he had dared to be a witness in a murder case. The lawlessness in the state can be further gauged by the subsequent developments in this case: Devender Kochís friend Anil Rahila who was a witness to his murder gathered courage and decided to fight for his dead friend. But he too fell prey to the bullets of murderers who hated his guts.

Then in yet another murder case, a hotelier was killed for not having paid a ransom of Rs 10 lakh. The killers not only killed him but also shouted slogans against him for not meeting their demand.

Looting of banks seems to be yet another easy way out for the youths to acquire a desirable lifestyle. Near Rohtak, in Bor village, boys looted a bank at gunpoint. Within a week this action was repeated in yet another village called Bhalot.

A former Chairperson of the Haryana Warehousing Corporation has been allegedly involved in a supari case. The Chandigarh Police almost succeeded in nailing him but for the accuser who turned hostile. Even though the accused may not face the whip of law, it is important to note that a hostile witness actually indicates the involvement of the accused in the crime.

Certain hard facts about the youth have to be faced not only by the political leadership and bureaucracy but also by social scientists. Why are boys not groomed to study well, work hard and be career-oriented? Why are women of Haryana still living in a state of extreme subjugation? Why do school students copy during examinations instead of working hard to earn a pass percentage? Why donít parents and members of panchayats realise the harm they are doing to their children by allowing them to cheat? Unemployment is a common phenomenon all over the country, but why are so many youths in Haryana entering the world of crime?

In reference to the last question, allow me to point out the case of just one village, Butana in Sonepat district. At one given time, 800 boys of this village were put behind bars for selling thaili ki sharab (liquor in plastic pouches). This happened when Bansi Lalís prohibition policy had been enforced on the state. Reportedly, the youths in the state had been selling liquor in connivance with the authorities concerned, which issued yellow cards to the boys "patronised" by them. The police spared the boys who sold liquor stealthily, if they were in possession of the yellow card. Unaware of such a card, these 800 boys tried to copy other boys to earn a fast buck but landed themselves in jail.

But the disturbing question is why are so many youths not heeding law and are indulging in illegal activities? How come Butana village which produces the highest number of trained teachers from Janata Public Training School for Teachers could not inculcate any respect for moral values and ethics amongst its youth?

We cannot blame unemployment alone for the alarming trends of criminality spreading among the youth in Haryana.

Disciplining of citizens in every state has to be an essential part of ruling. But beyond discipline, it is essential to make citizens aware that they have to play a collective role in the growth of a state and the nation. Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala who would be applauded in times to come for his daring action of ensuring that the Haryana farmers pay the bills for electricity consumed, however, succumbed to pressure from various quarters on account of the house- tax policy. These kinds of action send wrong signals to the people of the state.

Similarly, when a Haryana Speakerís relation allegedly kills a witness in broad daylight on the premises of the court, Chautala should have taken some exemplary action. Instead he ordered an inquiry. The people of Haryana and the rest of the country are fully aware that most investigating agencies neither have teeth nor are free to conduct impartial inquiries. Such actions, once again, send wrong signals to the citizens.

Om Parkash Chautala has done remarkably well by not expanding his ministry, by sticking to the decision on electricity bills, by down-sizing the sick units of the state, by auctioning mines wherein Haryana state was losing hundreds of crores, etc.

The Chief Minister, however, will have to take a radical stand on the youth of the state too. The youths who have gone astray cannot be put on the right path with any one policy decision. He shall have to take a number of steps to employ them in constructive activities.

There is every possibility that he may not be able to make any political gains in this matter, but such a risk of reforming the youth in Haryana may earn him a place in history.