Desecrating sanctity of R-Day

In his Republic Day message, President Ram Nath Kovind reminded the nation of the importance of tolerance and secularism. He told the nation that the people could disagree about anything or even a historical event without infringing on the ‘dignity and space’ of other citizens. He reminded us of our duty to “respect the next-door person’s privacy and rights” and “not inconvenience our neighbours while “celebrating a festival or while resorting to a protest on any other occasion.”  Very timely and prescient advice it sounds in retrospect, because his advice was ignored the very next day – the Republic Day – in Uttar Pradesh where Yogi Adidyanath rules. 
An unauthorized rally named “Tiranga Yatra” was taken out by the student wing of the ruling party and the Viswa Hindu Parishad in Kasganj district of UP.  Why the authorities in the first instance allowed the rally to be taken out is a big question. Secondly, judging by the ideological predilections of the two bodies, why a sufficiently strong police force did not accompany the procession is yet another question which the UP administration will have to answer. The third question is, why the procession was allowed to pass through communally sensitive areas.  The processionists, while passing through a minority-dominated area, raised provocative slogans which triggered a clash between the two communities. Shots were fired in which one person died and several were injured. The situation had to be brought under control by declaring curfew.
Uttar Pradesh is a State notorious for its periodic communal clashes. Recently, the State Government decided to withdraw criminal cases filed against some BJP leaders for the 2013 Muzaffarnagar violence. This must have come as a shot in the arms for those who try to foment communal tension for reaping electoral dividend. Towns like Muzaffarnagar, Gorakhpur, Jalalabad, Meerut, etc., have witnessed communal clashes one time or the other. In view of this, the Yogi Adidtyanath Government should have taken special precaution to ensure that the solemnity and sanctity of the Republic Das was not allowed to be disturbed by elements which in common parlance nowadays are called ‘fringe elements’. That the police allowed an ‘unauthorized’ procession shouting provocative slogans to be taken out on the Republic Day speaks volumes. The next thought that comes to mind is that the local administration must have got the nod from the political leadership of the government to look the other way while the procession was being organized, until actual clashes broke out. On both counts, the Yogi Government stands indicted.

Friday, 2 February, 2018