After the unfortunate partition of united India, anti-Sikh riots that followed assassination of Indira Gandhi and Jat -stir in Haryana; Panchkula town being held to ransom on 25 August 2017, is perhaps the third tragedy of such proportions to have visited this part of the country. Followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan, who are called ‘Premis’ had come prepared for arson in Panchkula where CBI special court is located and pushed the town in dark ages. It was the worst ever violence Panchkula has witnessed since its inception in 1977; 32 Dera followers lost their lives.
The information about the evil designs of the followers who had started gathering in Panchkula at least 7 days before the court decision,was available with district administration and police but procrastination by the Chief Minister who was more concerned about his vote bank rather than the security of innocent citizens, let Panchkula burn on the D day. It was the third administrative test of a spineless Chief Minister who failed miserably twice during Jat stir and Ram Pal episode.
During the Jat stir, Khattar government was unable to anticipate the huge storm which was in the offing, failed to contain the agitation and was solely responsible for causing irreparable damage to the State pushing it back by at least a decade. Arson, violence, looting and damage to public property and private properties of non-Jats in Rohtak, Jhajjar and other effected districts had resulted in 30 deaths, hundreds in hospitals and more than 30,000 crores loss.
A proactive media and public outcry of people in Haryana and other parts of the country had exposed the helplessness of democratically elected but incompetent and inefficient State machinery. A law and order problem which if handled promptly could easily be tackled at the level of DC and SSP of the district assumed such large proportions that Punjab and Haryana High Court had to step in. It is a classic case of mismanagement and inaction of babus and police that encouraged unholy actions by political scoundrels and anti-social elements demolishing and destroying the gains built by the vibrant State over effort of decades. One expected that Khattar would have learnt some lessons from the earlier failures; unfortunately he remains as incompetent, inefficient and insensitive as he was earlier. Those who don’t learn from their mistakes are called fools and the CM has certainly proved himself to be one after failing once again. It is to be seen how long BJP can continue to be embarrassed and tolerate this liability.
When Haryana was carved out of Punjab on 01 November 1966, political leaders, bureaucrats and even the common man in the mother State were skeptical about its ability and capacity to function as a good democracy and bring prosperity to its people. Reason was not far to seek; all along it was considered kaala-paani of Punjab due to its backwardness. It was known only for men folk smoking hookahs, women working in the fields and the crude jokes they cracked. The newly born State proved them wrong. It exploited its proximity to Delhi and the international airport and many industrial townships like Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ballabhgarh, Panipat etc emerged as its cash cows. Bansi Lal did to Haryana what Partap Singh Kairon had done to Punjab. Soon Haryana was being noticed as a progressive vibrant State.
Democracy is considered the best system of governance across the world as it gives, “the right to take part in the government of his (sic) country directly or through freely chosen representatives” (Article 21 Universal Declaration of Human Rights). The type of democracy our law-makers have given us suffers from two flaws; one we still don’t get ‘freely chosen representatives after practicing it for more than 70 years and two it is not related with responsible citizenship as in a government system to be called democratic all rights of citizens must necessarily be related with responsibility. Because of this, freedom has become a huge barrier to a better society Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and Patel envisaged. It is unfortunate that in working democracies the astute politicians do just enough so that the weaker sections of the society don’t lose hope. Such attitude prepares a fertile ground for enemies of the society who become so rich and powerful that they can bring any government to its knees. Present situation in many parts of the country suggests that democratic freedom cannot flourish unchecked. History has many classic examples how force and unbridled power at the hands of heads of States can collapse through its own weight if not supported by wise judgment which our leaders woefully lack. Perhaps, we don’t deserve the type of democracy we practice as yet.
Haryana government is yet to stitch the tattered social fabric of the Sate to bridge the divide between Jats and non-Jats. One doubts the ability of a Parcharak turned administrator to handle the complicated affair of national psychology skillfully since his vision seems to be getting dimmer by the day. The least the huge paraphernalia of babus at different levels can do is to help speed up the insurance claims, give suitable interim payout without any fear, favour or political affiliations.
In the present crisis media can play an important role in restoring harmony. Shared awareness, a military term, which means the ability of many people to understand a situation, is necessary for any group action because it allows otherwise uncoordinated groups to begin to work together towards their chosen goals more quickly and effectively. It can have a very profound impact in such a situation.
The Panchkula episode which held the peaceful town to ransom for many days has raised many questions in the mind of a common man. Current ‘feel-bad’ mood in Haryana after the mayhem has pushed the ordinary citizens to enquire in to “What is it to be in Haryana?”, “Is Haryana becoming a ‘functional anarchy?”, “How long will Haryana have to carry the tag of an ‘ever arriving’ State?”, “Are all Haryanvis undemocratic by temperament and get easily agitated?”. “When will Haryana be spared of the Chief Minister whose inaction was solely responsible for letting the situation get out of control and bring bad name to the State police?” “Could a professional approach by the police save 30 lives?” And finally, “Are we ready to tread the straight but narrow path of democracy?”
But what can be done to repair the poisoned minds of crores of Dera followers in which suspicion and distrust has been injected. Our guaranteed diversity which is much touted as our strength as a nation has become a painful weakness. Perhaps the need of Indianising Indians today has never been more before; no one must be permitted to challenge the idea of India.
While right to protest is integral to democracy, right to take away the rights of others in the name of protest is not democracy. Every proud Indian must hang his head in shame over what ever has happened in Haryana. To avoid repeat of such situations, the lesson which our administrators must learn from the happenings in Haryana is that even in democracy, force must be applied boldly, decisively and completely when it is absolutely necessary. Only then we have a hope for a society divided by cast, creed, religion and region.