Liberals, lapdogs, status quoists, stooges and sundry other critics can go and lick what they lick best while Aam Aadmi Party goes about shifting the goal post. Protests and disruptive politics are signs of robust democracy, critics are being told while Arvind Kejriwal and his band of merry men and women win new converts to their brand of politics, loaded with symbolism but possibly bereft of much substance.
The drama in Delhi over the past few days received a mixed response. While there was robust defence of the chief minister’s action and some admiration over the manner in which he has been winning eyeballs and generating support through radical photo-ops, the action of the chief minister in sitting on a dharna on the street till his demands were met, also came in for sharp criticism from observers who felt it was irresponsible and amounted to nothing more than posturing and theatrics.
It reminded me of the time when Lalu Prasad Yadav gave a resounding slap to a rickshaw puller. The then Bihar chief minister had accosted the rickshaw puller on the streets of Gaya and asked whether his children were going to the school. On receiving a reply in the negative, the CM delivered a tight slap and warned that he would be jailed if he failed to send the children to school. As the news spread, many were convinced that the CM had made a huge mistake and people would be angry with him. But when a newsman caught up with him, the rickshaw puller appeared elated. “I am slapped daily by someone or the other, by either passengers or by policemen. But this is the first time someone has slapped me in my own interest,” he had said. I will not be surprised, therefore, if Kejriwal also evokes similar feelings, niceties and nuances be damned.
An astute political observer maintained that the high-pitched, self-righteous ‘agitation’ has ensured that AAP would sweep Delhi in the Lok Sabha election. “If you look at the rhetoric, it is simple. AAP and Mr Kejriwal came out on the side of people while their critics, including mainstream political parties and the media, were seen to be supporting the police. There is little doubt which way the ‘Janata’ will swing,” he explained. Doubts that AAP supporters in Delhi would vote for Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha, he added, can now be ruled out.
This assessment appears to be borne out by BJP spokespersons bitterly complaining on TV that AAP is being propped up by the Congress to stop Mr Modi; that the ‘tamasha’ was designed to slow Modi’s momentum. In an election where every seat will count, losing a majority of the seats in its own backyard of Delhi can be hardly reassuring for the BJP. Perception and rhetoric do count in politics and in the first stand-off with the Centre and even more so with the BJP, it does seem AAP has scored a strategic goal, while undoubtedly antagonising a section of opinion-makers, who may not matter much in elections. So, it is politics that won on January 21 in Delhi, not any path-breaking idea in good governance.
And the sight of the Delhi chief minister lying on the street under a quilt brought from home will remain etched in people’s memory for a long enough time to ensure political dividends for the fledgling party. Who can argue with people who are convinced that here is a man who is fighting their battle?
People who defend Mr Kejriwal put forward one or all of three arguments.
First, they point out that policemen are indeed criminals in uniform, a law unto themselves and this is the first time a chief minister dared to call a spade a spade and take them on. So, full marks to AAP.
Second, they believe that Mr Kejriwal’s action enjoys the support of a large number of people, most of whom are marginalised and voiceless. To them Mr Kejriwal is a hero.
Finally, they point out that the state government of Delhi must have administrative control over the police so that it can make the police accountable for crime.
The Aam Aadmi Party, therefore, was left with no option but to draw attention to the duality of Delhi Police, which is responsible for law and order in Delhi but which reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs and to the Lieutenant Governor, specially in view of the mounting criticism in the wake of the rape of the Danish tourist in Delhi.
On the face of it, AAP’s position appears indefensible. It had brought Delhi to a standstill following the gangrape of a young physiotherapist in December, 2012. It had then demanded the resignation of the chief minister. This time when a Danish tourist was gangraped with AAP in power, it cleverly deflected attention by demanding the resignation of the union home minister and action against policemen. The shock caused by two of its ministers taking the law into their own hands and browbeating policemen was countered by claims that the ministers were also elected MLAs and were acting at the behest of their constituents.
In one case, a minister of the AAP government reacted to complaints that police was not recording the statement of a woman who had allegedly been set on fire by her in-laws. In medico-legal cases, it is the responsibility of the attending doctors and the hospital to inform the police and ensure that the statement gets recorded. Not recording the statement is a serious enough lapse that can cause loss of job of both doctors and policemen. But it is not clear why the minister, Rakhi Birla, chose to arrive in the neighbourhood after midnight and demand that all the members of the in-laws’ family be arrested. Apparently one of them had been arrested by the police while others had been let off after interrogation. But the minister was adamant that the in-laws were hiding inside the house, despite the lock on the main door. This was broken at her instance and the minister went inside to check for herself. But according to reports, nobody was found. In any case all the “suspects” were arrested before the Chief Minister sat on the dharna, according to the CM himself, even as AAP spokespersons continued to say on TV how serious it was for the police to refuse recording the statement of the victim.
The second incident witnessed AAP’s irrepressible law minister Somnath Bharti directing people and the police to detain and arrest a group of Nigerian women he accused of drug trafficking and soliciting. In this instance too Bharti appears to enjoy the support of the people in the neighbourhood, who complained to him about drug and sex rackets in which the women were allegedly involved. So many versions of this incident have come out by now that it is impossible to get a fix on the exact sequence of events—although video footage is available and hopefully the on-going inquiry would unravel the truth. Parts of the footage that went on the air showed an altercation between Bharti and a few policemen, who were seen trying to calm down the minister, whose demeanour and language did appear inappropriate.
What is nevertheless clear is that as chief minister with the home portfolio, Mr Kejriwal, did have several other options open to him. The easiest of course would have been for him to pick up the phone and speak to the home minister or the LG and apprise them of the complaints he had received. He could have discussed with them the action he deemed suitable and waited for a day or two to see their reaction. He could also have called for reports from independent observers or groups he could have constituted before demanding any action. He or his partymen could have also gone to the court to complain against police inaction and demand appropriate action. A friendly media would then have mounted sufficient pressure for action to follow. The demand that five policemen be suspended or transferred pending inquiry, was, however, patently unreasonable. Because if you start suspending policemen every time a crime takes place, it would become impossible to govern. If four miscreants abduct a tourist to a deserted park and rape her, the redressal cannot lie in suspending or transferring the SHO and that too without any inquiry. I am not aware of any country in the world, where crime or rapes are followed by judicial inquiries and suspension of policemen. Such suspension can only be justified if there is a gross dereliction of duty and there is sufficient evidence that the policeman’s acts of omission or commission led to the crime. No government can unilaterally take such action without following procedures and without giving the accused a chance to explain his conduct. In the event, two of the five policemen were asked to proceed on leave or extend their leave, allowing Mr Kejriwal to withdraw his indefinite dharna and claim a victory.
The argument that administrative control of the police leads to better law and order is also not founded on facts. Neither other states in India nor other cities abroad, like New York or Los Angeles, which do have complete control over the police have reported any decline in crime or violence against women or rape.
Delhi police lost an opportunity to set an example. Rather than lodge an FIR after the dharna was withdrawn, it should have detained the CM and his ministers when they defied prohibitory orders. It is by allowing VIPs to break the law that the government and the Police have brought about this situation. If everyone is equal before the law, it should not have made any difference whether the law breaker was a minister or an MLA. But so demoralised and defensive are the ‘authorities’ that they do not seem to have much authority at their command.
Rulers are rarely seen as rebels. They generally pose as reformers. It is left for those opposing them to cast stones and call for a revolt. But AAP clearly wants to occupy both the space.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
12 D KDM
Between the Ugandan women (prostitutes ?) and the female leaders ( feminist support ), and the corrupt police, is nt it Bharti who got caught in the cross fire?
Everyone is playing their own angle.
It is unfortunate people like Ugandan Women who were criminals or not got caught in the cross fire.
This is not to defend AAPs ( or more specifically their lawyer members ) hyper reaction, but a call to look at some facts:
Most of the drug peddling and prostitution, is done by police officers themselves, using agents. They even have 'fiefdoms', where another police officer cannot 'intrude'
The money involved is huge. From 10000 to 50000 for a 'posh' high class officer!
Again, to an extent, the Law Minister is correct that Nigerians, as a class, are unruly. But he has to mind his words, and then, only with solid evidence, especially in an atmosphere where feminists are so powerful.
All the feminists have risen to full throttle, using all the media power at their command. All the feminist cells in the media have become activated too - to claim that these women were 'innocent victims', when clearly, it is only a matter of absence of proof.
Police extorts money from traffickers, prostitutes and kotha malkeens and is even involved in trafficking. Bharatiya Patita Udhar Sabha (BPUS), a union of Delhi-based prostitutes, contends that the police are involved in a staged process of registering th e victims. After a minor girl is brought into a brothel the kotha malkeen calls on the local officer (sub-inspector (SI) or assistant sub-inspector (ASI) and beat officer (havaldar or constable) and requests them to make a new entry for a newly purchase d minor girl for which she pays Rs 10,000 to the police. Reliable sources also revealed to the BPUS that the minor girls have to first satiate the sexual urges of these SIs, ASIs, havaldars and constables.
The farce follows set stages: a trumped-up case is registered against these minor girls falsely alleging that they were trying to solicit clients in a public place. The minor girls are then arrested and kept in the lock-up while the police prepare a chall an wherein the minor girls age is entered as 21. This entry is apparently sufficient to transform overnight the minor girl into an adult for all subsequent court proceedings. After this, these minor girls are produced before a magistrate and released on b ail. The police thus violate all norms as well as all the legal rules and regulations with impunity to help perpetuate child prostitution within the kothas.
The BPUS further reported that the kotha malkeen gets an agreement signed by the newly purchased girl on backdated court stamp paper stating her willingness to work for the malkeen as a domestic servant. Simultaneously, by a false promissory note, the gir l states she has taken a loan of Rs 40,000 from the malkeen. By this process the minor girl enters into servitude under the rule of the kotha malkeen.
Ordinarily, a minor girl is purchased for about Rs 10,000. The police take a bribe of Rs 10,000 to frame the charges. Rs 20,000 is spent on getting the bail. The total expenditure incurred in the process is Rs 40,000 which is borne by the kotha malkeen. H owever, this amount is recorded as a debt the minor girl owes the malkeen. In this entire operation the dominant role is played by the police.
The BPUS also says that the police have designed a slab structure of protection money to be collected from kotha malkeens if they open a new kotha. The bribe rate of the police is as follows:
Rs 50,000 for a brothel consisting of 10 minor girls.
Rs 1 lakh for a brothel of 20 minor girls.
Rs 3 lakh for a brothel having up to 50 minor girls.
India is a complete anarchy. Every hour living in india is a million things going wrong. It is the educated elite whose heart resides in the west who is responsible for it. Their only claim to fame is following the west in a half hearted manner about a decade late. Whatever it comes up as its own thinking stinks. These class came up with the concept of 'rape with the intent of marriage'.!! Another century will pass with India still among the last ten of 190 odd countries if we let them think they are incharge. The amazing thing is this class are incapable of any real productive work except for sitting behind tables and appearing important.
It is time that we give them the boot. They cant survive without the statusquo. Change the status quo they will wither away. Let them scream about the rights of prostitutes or that of the corrupt police man. I see hope as a policeman manning the barricades was quoted saying that he suppourts the AAP as he too lives in Delhi and he wants things to change. He said that in hope of a new future he has even stopped accepting chai-pani money. That in my opinion is more valuable than all the hot air that was generated by hundreds of talking heads on TV.
Yesterday Tushar Gandhi had the gall to compare Somnath Bharti to the gang who raped the girl in Birbum, West Bengal. Today I took a few friends to the local AAP office and we became members.
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