LT GENERAL VIJAY OBEROI | 15 APRIL, 2018
Photograph Basit Zargar of a recent protest in Kashmir
Arrogance, lust for power and religious bigotry have unfortunately made us inhuman, ignoring thousands of years of our heritage, our culture of tolerance and acceptance; and our ability to assimilate with fellow human beings. The foot soldiers of some of the political parties are bullies who always pick on those of our country men and women who are already weak and economically poor.
Psychologist will give you many reasons for this state of affairs, but essentially it boils down to bad governance; no respect for the law; because the keepers of the law are themselves in cahoots with these louts for the loot that they share. They also have their eye on the future in the hope that they will get their share for the loyalty and obsequious demeanour displayed by them, unmindful of the disdain and disgust that they are looked at today by the people.
Unfortunately, over a period of time our past and present political leaders have encouraged them to do only their bidding and not what they are trained to do, viz. upholding the laws of the land.
One can cite the innumerable instances of recent years where the keepers of the law and order have not just shirked their duty but colluded with the culprits because they are either in awe of them or for currying their favours for rewards of one kind or the other.
Since public memory is somewhat short and it falls for the ploys and blandishments of these so-called political but not caring leaders, let me confine my ire, nay utter dismay and disgust at the two latest incidents that have marred the image of the nation and have negated whatever good, we the people of India were admired for. I am referring to the utter arrogance of an MLA of Unnao District of UP and the gruesome crime committed on a young eight year old girl, merely because her religion was different than theirs!
What does a young girl of eight know about religion; and what business the louts of a different religion have to become worse than beasts and carry out the heinous crimes against an innocent young girl?
The reasons why such crimes take place are obvious to the discerning citizen, who is not himself or herself a supporter of such actions. We are now in an election year of numerous elections from Panchayat to states to the Centre. Elections in our country have always been a no holds barred affair, but since the BJP has come back to power, after a sabbatical of 10 years, it is determined to win them all, by hook or crook, mostly the latter.
They have done so by false promises, material freebies, bending and even abandoning laws, using fear as a weapon and appeasement where violence or doles do not work. It is also the fault of the weakened opposition not to stand up to them, as has been done by some state satraps who have paid them back in the same coin and succeeded.
However, my concern is not about which party eventually wins and forms a government. As a citizen who is law-abiding and who has been nurtured in an atmosphere where being apolitical has been an article of faith, my concern and that of most of my fellow citizens is ‘good governance’, which unfortunately is sacrificed at the altar of politicking and all the ills that it carries.
The polity of our country is concerned with fundamental issues of living peacefully in a corruption-free environment; caring for their families; educating their children; and leading a life where the mighty ‘Sarkar’ lets them be and assists them by creating opportunities for advancement; giving a fear-free environment; providing employment opportunities; providing them with all the wherewithal of living decently; and caring for their aspirations, be they health-related, or the multitude of other wants.
Unfortunately, all governments since Independence have failed the people; some more than the others. The result is that the percentage of people below poverty level have remained generally the same; the five percent or so richest people continue to become richer and richer; and those in the middle, divided into upper, middle and lower middle-classes fluctuate within their classes like company shares on the Stock Exchanges!
The ‘Sarkar’ of course frequently doles out statistics, trying to show how well it has done, but the people can see through these games. It is sad that this has continued with every government that has governed (not really the right word because power has not translated in to good governance), be it leftist, socialist, rightist; or the various types of coalitions we have had after the mid-Seventies.
Reverting now to the two heinous crimes and the acts of omission and commission of both the political hierarchy at the Centre and the states; as also of the guardians of law as well as the bunch of lawyers of the Bar at Kathua who are equally to blame; it is hoped that sanity will return to the party in power at the Centre as well as the two states, where again the BJP is in power or is a coalition partner.
All those who have been involved in the two beastly crimes must be brought to book and given the highest punishment in accordance with the law. I must also add that the police, local or CBI, must not fudge the evidence, a common practice amongst them, so that the culprits are let off with lesser or no punishment, like it has happened in numerous cases in the past.
A last word is in order, as it is important to show the true worth of our political leaders, who flaunt their appointments, forgetting that it is the people who have placed them there. It is rightly said that politicians have neither conscience nor morality. All ‘Sarkari’ politicians have displayed it in good measure in these two heinous crimes. Till Prime Minister Modi publicly condemned these two acts, his cabinet colleagues had not uttered a single word about the two incidents, except inanities by a few.
Once PM Modi went public, all his cabinet colleagues started vying with each other to be the first to condemn them; one of them even wanted the death penalty for the culprits. Only the venerable Home Minister, presumably busy with matters of state, was late in his ‘GHOR NINDA’ for the culprits.
Now that all those who matter in the cabinet have cleared their conscience, hopefully the perpetrators, especially the MLA from Unnao and the interfering members of the Kathua Bar Association will get their just desserts and quickly, for ‘justice delayed is justice denied’, besides the fact that as time passes, witnesses become deaf, dumb and even blind and the police revels in tampering with evidence; for a price of course!
(Lt General Vijay Oberoi is a former Vice Chief of Army Staff)