Thursday, October 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


A stigma on the secular system

APROPOS of Mr H.K. Dua’s article “It’s Modi versus Rule of Law” (Sept 17), it was only a cynical, arrogant and disgraceful disregard of democratic values by the Gujarat Chief Minister that the state police and bureaucrats colluded so openly with the rapists and murderers to target one religious community. The post-Godhra killings of Muslims remain a horrible and disgraceful stigma on our secular system.

But more painful and shocking than this violence was the wilful inefficiency and indifference of the state machinery not to arrest and punish the guilty. Mr Narendra Modi and his men, who have treated Gujarat as their fiefdom, have ensured that the minority community was humiliated and butchered.

Reopening of the Best Bakery case is only a tip of the iceberg to highlight a complete and prolonged breakdown of the rule of law and the Constitution in Gujarat last year. Best Bakery saw the killing of 14 persons, while in Gulberg 70 people and in Noroda Patiya more than 200 people were burnt alive. The state government, instead of checking violence and punishing the guilty, made a cruel mockery of the democratic system when it tried to find links of the Godhra incident with Al-Qaeda men.


Now when the Bajrang Dal activist Dara Singh and his men have been brought to book for the brutal burning alive of Graham Staines and his two sons, a ray of hope has been kindled that the fanatics of Gujarat violence will also have to pay for their heinous crime. But it will be painful if the religious/ political leaders who instigated passions of caste, creed and religion and the people who financed and supported these inhuman killings will escape unhurt and unscathed only to indulge in such brutal deeds again at the next possible opportunity. In principle, Gujarat 2002 has not been much different from Delhi 1984. Only the actors and the victims were different.



In his article “It’s Modi versus Rule of Law” (Sept 17), Mr H.K. Dua exposes the ego-centric and despotic Modi government in Gujarat. The Supreme Court has been the most stinging in its remarks, literally asking Chief Minister Narendra Modi to resign. But who cares?

Though there are a number of flaws in our judicial system, the court verdicts in some cases like the Staines murder and Best Bakery show that justice has not yet vanished. The apex court has castigated the Gujarat government in no uncertain terms. Consequently, people’s faith in the judiciary has increased. When politicians act as persecutors, they turn democracy into anarchy.

The Supreme Court’s observation underlines the fact that justice should not only be done but also seen to be done. The Best Bakery case shows how the witnesses were threatened to retract their initial statements against the rioters. Such acts of intimidation could not have been carried out without the connivance of the Modi government.

Is it the observance of Raj Dharma which Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had pointed out during his visit to the state after the riots last year? Clearly, Mr Modi has never shown any inclination to follow the path of a fair and fast administration.

A section of the population is opposed to what is called judicial activism. I, however, feel that but for an independent judiciary and public-spirited institutions like the National Human Rights Commission, our insensitive politicians would have played ducks and drakes with human lives.

The strictures of the Supreme Court on the Gujarat government is a resounding rebuff of the Chief Minister for approaching the apex court with the ulterior motive of stalling the NHRC petition in the Best Bakery case.



DA for Punjab staff

The Government of India has released DA instalment to its employees and pensioners, having raised it from 55 per cent to 59 per cent, i.e. an increase of 4 per cent in accordance with its settled policy almost a month ago.

The Punjab government is committed to follow the Central Government pattern. So it should also show the grace by granting the increased rate of DA to its employees and pensioners as a Dasara gift. This step would surely earn the goodwill of both the employees and the people. Such gestures have been shown by the governments in the past.


Poor postal services

Haibowal Kalan is a fast developing colony with a population of over four lakh. But there is only one sub-post office housed in a small room without ventilation. Only three or four persons can stand at the counter. Long queues prevent many officegoers from paying their telephone bills or buy postal articles.

Will the Superintendent of Post Offices inspect the place and arrange for a bigger building or start another post office to meet the demand?

L.N. SHARMA, Haibowal Kalan (Ludhiana)

Challenge for BJP

THE Rae Bareli special court, hearing the Ayodhya demolition case, has discharged Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani for lack of sufficient evidence. The Ram Janmabhoomi movement, which Mr Advani spearheaded, was cultural and political.

It aroused a spectacular mass response, which could not be viewed as illegitimate. For, in no way did it constitute a criminal activity.

The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court has now stayed the Rae Bareli court’s order on Union Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi. But then, why did he resign in the first place and pushed himself into a seemingly moral cul-de-sac in haste? One possible explanation could be an attempt to boost his political profile by making a martyr of himself. If this was indeed the case it is sad because a leader of Dr Joshi’s seniority should have blinked at the demoralising impact this was bound to have on his party and the government.

Even though Dr Joshi is back to his office following the stay order, there is still a politico-legal battle ahead for the BJP that will doubtless be exploited by its political detractors. But then, it does not seem fazed by the challenge.



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