Deep rooted malaise
Deep rooted malaise
News analysis

Deep rooted malaise

Observer

The mad fury of followers of Godman Ram Rahim over their Guru’s conviction for rape demonstrates the weakening of the law enforcing institutions and increasing dominance of political masters in the administration. This has not happened overnight. The system has been under pressure from the ruling class for decades for petty political advantages and due to increasing distribution of patronages, throwing to wind all established conventions, rules and regulations. The casualty is not moral values alone but the weakening of the system as a whole. How else can one explain the widespread violence, torching of railway stations, trains, OB vans and attack on the media personnel for convicting a person for the heinous crime of rape?

The police force in the country has been more or less made inactive by the ruling elite. By placing favourites in key offices and following a carrot and stick policy, the police force almost all over the country is losing the initiative. It has become inactive too, preferring signals from the political leadership to do their duty.

In Haryana this is the third time the administration had failed to take effective steps to control an angry mob. The first one happened within a month of the swearing-in of ManoharLalKhattar as CM. Another Godman Baba Rampal, accused of murder, used his devotees as a shield when the police came to arrest him. The situation got out of control leaving six dead, many injured and destruction of private property. Then came the Jat agitation for reservations. Khattar again proved that such situations are not for him to manage. Human lives were lost and private property destroyed here too. Not that there are no efficient police personnel to lead the police in the state. But the force was not allowed to act independently and impartially. Politicalinterests come in between forcing the police bosses to choose the safe path of awaiting directions from the top.

In the case of Friday’s incidents in Haryana, which had a cascading effect in the neighbouring states too, this is exactly what happened. Gurmeet Ram Rahim and his followers voted for the BJP in the last elections. After the swearing-in the entire Cabinet called on the Godman and sought his blessings. Even last week two ministers went to the Dera Headquarters, paid obeisance and handed over a cheque reportedly for Rs.51 lakhs to the organisation, said some reports. Any police officer would think twice before taking any action against Ram Rahim or his organisation, given the ground realities. Moreover, even Prime Minister Modi, had appreciated Ram Rahim’s good work in the Swachch Bharat programme, according to reports. On October 29, 2014, Modi tweeted, “Appreciable efforts by Ram Rahim ji and his team. Will motivate people across India to join Swachch Bharat mission.” It is just a matter of fact tweet, but coming from the Prime Minister it will make the bureaucracy to view it with awe.

What happened in Haryana was that the police had information about Ram Rahim’s followers heading for Panchkula but did not take enough steps in advance to prevent such a mass assemblage in anticipation of the judgment. Lathis and incendiary material in huge quantities could not have escaped the eagle’s eye of the intelligence men. Their propensity to violence is not unknown, particularly for the army of Ram Rahim. When orders came from above as the mob turned violent, the police could control it within a reasonable time. Clearly it was a failure on the part of the Haryana government. They forgot that the NarendraModi had promised good governance and impartial action against the guilty. At least the Haryana government had failed to implement these promises of the Prime Minister if one objectively analyzes the record so far of the Khattar government. It is no exaggeration to state that a stern administrator like Prime Minister has given rather a long rope to Khattar.

.The growing nexus between criminals and politicians has been there for long, which was brought to light by the Vohra Committee. The abandoning of election campaign on the basis of policy, programme and ideology and opting for the short cut to win elections through caste and communal appeals have led politicians to get nearer to leaders of these groups. Virtually all political parties indulge in soft communal and caste campaigns, including in the selection of candidates on the basis of the caste and communal origins. But in recent times some parties have resorted to hate campaigns. All these do reflect in the post-election administrative culture. Consequently Friday-like violence happens as the normal administrative initiatives and pro-active law and order steps fail,and waiting for orders from above when men or women close to the rulers are involved in sensitive matters.

The situation has worsened that even to deliver a judgment in a sensitive case police protection is needed. Politicians praise the judiciary if they are exonerated and an adverse judgment attracts protest meetings and processions in front of courts. No party is free from such behaviour these days. The late Sanjay Gandhi’s behaviour in Delhi courts in post-emergency cases and Maneka Gandhi’s conduct in during the Shah Commission hearings were early instances in the late seventies.

Similarly police officers have to suffer humiliation when they have to handle VVIP criminals. One saw some police officers escorting Ram Rahim with utmost respect, bordering on servile behaviour, whereas the Godman was in supercilious demeanour on Friday after the arrest. In fact Deputy Advocate General, Gurdas

Salwara, in lawyer’s robes, was seen carrying the suitcase of the Dera chief reverentially, after conviction, which was frowned upon by the court. He was later sacked by the Government on the recommendations of Advocate General, Baldev Raj Mahajan. In spite of convicting him for rape Gurmit Ram Rahim enjoyed VVIP treatment thanks to his proximity to the powers that be in Haryana. The BJP, one should note, is grateful to all those who supported the party in the elections, even to criminals. Nothing creditable for a party which had promised better governance.

Interfering with the police administration and directing the investigation of criminal cases have become a weakness with chief ministers across the country. To make rule of law effective the government should allow the administration to act independently and objectively. Undue importance and favours to criminals should end. The malaise is deep rooted. Perhaps, this would require a surgical intervention to make the administration free and healthy.

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