Policing challenge in the times of divisive politics

The poll-time polarisation may draw a parallel from the political annals of the country, but it certainly defies normal law and order protocols. In the given scenario, instead of merely criticising police failure and inaction, it should also be debated whether and how the police could have acted differently. Their helplessness is apparent from the excuses made for the genocidal call at the Haridwar event.

Policing challenge in the times of divisive politics

PROTECT DIVERSITY: Right-minded governments must crush the conspiracy behind the Dharma Sansads in Haridwar and Raipur. PTI

Vikash Narain Rai

Former Director, National Police Academy, Hyderabad

IT shocked but did not surprise that the police forces of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh, irrespective of being governed by ideologically diverse political parties, faltered in equal measure to prevent and neutralise the ‘Godsewadi’ hate and genocidal campaign at the pre-Christmas Dharma Sansads held in Haridwar and Raipur. The follow-up FIRs have carried weak accusations initially in spite of an open-and-shut case of engineering supremacist terror in both instances.

The Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh effected an arrest after several days, inviting procedural objections from BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, whereas no arrest has been made in Uttarakhand by the BJP government. In the meantime, adding to the hate chaos around Friday namaz disruptions in Gurugram, the Christmas celebrations in some BJP-ruled states were openly disrupted on the pretext of anti-conversion sentiments of the majority community. Since then, multiple videos have surfaced of oath-taking events involving schoolchildren across the country to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra.

The current election-time polarisation may draw a parallel from the political annals of the country, but it certainly defies normal law and order protocols. In the given scenario, hence, instead of merely criticising the police failure and inaction, it should also be debated whether and how the police could have acted differently. Their helplessness is apparent from the ‘absence of complaint, ‘no violence followed’ and ‘awaiting investigation outcome’ excuses made by the DGP, Uttarakhand, for remaining a spectator to the widely publicised genocidal call at the Haridwar event. The stark rationale behind the police’s readiness to cope with the crime and lawlessness in society but not a fascist ideology was too evident.

How to tie politics and policing together while respecting the identity of various segments in a huge pluralistic society like India, which often faces communal, casteist and ethnic incitement in the run-up to the elections? EO Wilson, an American naturalist, dubbed the modern-day Darwin, who passed away last month, had argued in a wider context of humanity making changes to manage the planet, “We have stone-age emotions, medieval institutions and god-like technology.” That equation in human evolution has puzzled even the most organised democratic societies from time to time.

Should not our overarching Constitution with checks and balances be a befitting legal answer? Seventy-six lawyers of the Supreme Court have sent a joint letter to the Chief Justice of India, with familiar pleadings, to intervene suo motu. They submitted: “The recent speeches are part of a series of similar speeches that we have come across in the past. It may be noted that no effective steps have been taken under the provisions of Sections 153, 153A, 153B, 295A, 504, 506, 120B, 34 of the IPC in respect of the earlier hate speeches. Thus, urgent judicial intervention is required to prevent such events that seem to have become the order of the day. We have also been informed that in this regard, a few petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution are also pending for consideration before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”

The mention of Section 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy which refers to the meeting of minds for the commission of an offence) is of utmost relevance here in view of the patronising silence on part of the political guardians in the saddle and their ideological mentors over the identity, intent and purpose of the ultimate links propping up these sansads. It is being defiantly claimed that the nation will shortly witness more such sessions.

There is enough moral indignation as well in the media and intellectual spaces, but the streets representing the political landscape of criminal fantasies against Muslims and Christians are dominated by one ideology only. That scenario cannot sustain without a criminal conspiracy being hatched in the backrooms of power politics. For instance, the enormously inflated Gurugram namaz row had an easy administrative solution: instead of open spaces to overcome the shortage of mosques for Friday prayers, a practice fraught with nuisance potential, why not utilise community halls, sports centres, CSR initiatives and other neutral indoor facilities? Which side the political balance of social harmony is tilted towards can be gauged from the way the lynching of a beadabi intruder in the Golden Temple has been ignored by political parties in Punjab. Similarly, the boycott of the mid-day meal prepared by a Dalit bhojan mata at a government school in Champawat, Uttarakhand, brings no political dividends in the savarna state.

In 1935, a book was published in Austria titled Sein Kampf (His struggle, an Answer to Hitler) in which the author, Irene Harand, went through Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle), considered the ‘Nazi Bible’, challenging the arguments, assumptions and the actions of the German dictator, tearing to shreds the anti-Semitic ideology which swept through Germany and Austria from the time it was first printed in 1925. Harand’s activism included a lecture circuit that took her all over Europe to ascertain whether the Nazi doctrines can bear critical examination before the civilised world. She had hoped, “When this book becomes the common property of the people, the Jewish danger will be as good as gone.” It turned out to be different. Great orator that he was, Hitler believed that “all the formidable events which have changed the aspect of the world were carried through, not by the written but by the spoken word.” He noted, “An orator receives continuous guidance from the people before whom he speaks.” In a war-humbled Germany, Hitler’s ‘absolute authority at the top and absolute responsibility for the rest’ appeal carried a façade of national consolidation, scoring over the fragmented bourgeois democrat.

Are we not at a point of no return? The right-minded among our politicians will have to vocally and demonstratively meet the Hindu Rashtra propaganda in the streets and the right-minded governments must crush the conspiracy behind Dharma Sansads with all the might at their command.

Tribune Shorts


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