Fifth column: Why India is lawless

Next week marks the anniversary of one of the worst episodes of politicians colluding with the police and officials to allow the massacre of innocent Indian citizens.

Written by Tavleen Singh | Published: October 29, 2017 12:32 am
Swiss couple attack, agra swiss couple attacked, Fatehpur Sikri attack, Fatehpur Sikri assault, Agra attack, Swiss couple attacked in agra, india news, indian express A TV image of the injured Swiss tourists.

In half-made countries like ours, violence lies just below a tenuous facade of order. It is unfortunate that we notice this only when the façade cracks, as happened last week when a mob of ruffians savagely attacked a Swiss couple in Fatehpur Sikri. Or when Muslim cattletraders and dairy farmers are beaten to death in public. Or when baby girls are brutally raped and murdered. And even when these horror stories surface, millions of Indians remain in denial and take to Twitter to say things like ‘exceptions do not make the rule’ and ‘bad things happen in other countries too.’ If only instead of shameful justifications they would demand loudly that political leaders stop subverting the rule of law by manipulating it for political purposes.

Next week marks the anniversary of one of the worst episodes of politicians colluding with the police and officials to allow the massacre of innocent Indian citizens. As has happened in this coming week for more than 30 years, the newspapers will be filled with commemorative advertisements remembering Indira Gandhi on her death anniversary. But, the murder of more than 3,000 Sikhs in the days that followed her assassination will go un-mourned. Is this because it shames us to remember that this pogrom was organised by ‘secular’ Congress politicians to avenge the murder of their leader? As someone who was in Delhi in those terrible days, I find it hard to forget those piles of burned bodies lying in the streets, those burned out husks of trucks on roads leading out of the city with corpses in rigor mortis at the wheel.

If in the aftermath of that pogrom Rajiv Gandhi had shown the wisdom to allow at least a measure of justice to be done, it would have strengthened our fragile rule of law. He chose instead to justify the violence, and not a single senior politician, official or police officer has so far been punished for criminal dereliction of their duties. Since most Indian citizens remained unmoved by what happened, sufficient public pressure never built up to strengthen the rule of law.

Today, it is the turn of Congress leaders to give pious lectures every time cow vigilantes murder innocent Muslims or nameless ‘right-wing killers’ murder leftist intellectuals and journalists. And now it is the turn of BJP leaders to justify savagery in the name of ‘nationalism’ and ‘Hindu pride’. The horrible irony is that neither of our two major political parties appears to notice that violence usually leads only to more violence and that, in the end, it begins to affect everyone.

In totalitarian countries the rule of law is imposed by soldiers, who shoot dead those who dare to break it, but in democratic countries like ours, it should be the job of civilian policemen to impose it. The sad truth is that our political leaders have interfered so often in police matters that our finest police officers (and there are many) hesitate to impose the rule of law strictly when they know that their political bosses want it broken. In countries that are real democracies, there are enough checks and balances in place to prevent this from happening. In India, we have for too long thought of democracy as something limited to being able to vote every five years for a new government. If there is to be a ‘new India’, this must change.

It is not hard to do. Hundreds of thousands of words have been written in many, many official reports about what needs to be done to give our police forces more protection from political pressure. Why do they continue to lie buried in the bowels of the Home Ministry? Whenever this question is asked there comes the standard response that law and order is a state subject. It is and it is not. When the chief minister of a state and the Prime Minister come from the same party, they work as a team. So when Muslims are killed in Rajasthan for no reason and when foreign tourists are brutally attacked in Uttar Pradesh, it is as much the Prime Minister’s responsibility as that of the state government. What happened in Fatehpur Sikri was so shameful that the Minister of External Affairs had to intervene, so there is no question that the Prime Minister can do more.

In democratic countries, strict imposition of the rule of law is as important as regular elections. We know this because we have lived through times in which polling booths were regularly ‘captured’ at the behest of politicians by gangsters. When gangsters discovered that this was something they could do for themselves, they gave up being gangsters and became politicians. Some sit in Parliament and some in state Assemblies, so what hope is there for the rule of law? And, yet there has to be.

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @tavleen_singh

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  1. V
    Nov 4, 2017 at 4:53 pm
    tavleen has jumped into many timelines in her article but knows better than anybody else she became famous during the indira-gandhi heyday because india and its politics back then had a mystique about it,something lacking in the kind of politics being preached in the india of the last 20 years.
    1. R
      Oct 30, 2017 at 12:49 am
      You don't need to setup an SIT or hold a conference of intellectuals or write articles to explain, "Why India is Lawless". Read the answer in its totality below. Answer: India is "LAWLESS" because it is a Ninety Nine Percent corrupt society that runs its day to day operations on bribery and fraud. Parti nts in this bribery and fraud include Politicians of every stature form PM on down to the Civil Servants at every level to the Police DIGs down to the lowly constables.
      1. C
        Oct 29, 2017 at 11:46 pm
        They are habituated to write biased articles. When Hindus are killed in America, it is not lawlessness. When Hindus are attacked, looted and raped in West Bengal, Keral or Assam, then it is not lawlessness. This Singhs were always thinking in a crooked way. They enjoy when Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their homes where their ancestors living in the valleys for thousands of years. Then this type of hypocrats feel shame to write anything. This is culture, habit and double standard of the Indian sickulars. They only point fingers when any Jihadi is attacked or lynched by mass people. The mass people do this when it is unbearable for them the torture of the Jihadists. In many cases in Kerala and West Bengal, the violence, rapes loot, extortion and love Jihad against Hindus were/are seen lightly by the admins and Police. The Police are very busy with the agenda of Mumtaz Begum of appea t politics. The Hindus are living in in West Bengal and Kerala and soon it be Kashmir.
        1. S
          Oct 29, 2017 at 8:58 pm
          Another biased article. Kashmiri pandits being driven out of homes 🏡 s not a concern. Thousands of Hindus being killed and thousands being forced to flee their homes by your brother sikh terrorists is a non issue. Killing of a lady prime minister by her disloyal sikh and cowardly sikh bodyguards is also not a concern. But riots are a concern to this weather . Maintaining peace is everyone's responsibilty. Suppression Of HIndus, is not secularism or law and order.
          1. K
            Kamal Pasha
            Oct 29, 2017 at 9:38 pm
            Sumesh : The whole world knows that Modi ordered the killings of more than 3000 Indian Muslims of Gujrat and literally many were burnt alive, including children and old people. What about the innocent Muslims and other minorities who were falsely lynched in the name of Beef. Did any killer was found guilty. No because the police and judiciary belong to them. India has been tinted by BJP rulers.
            1. R
              Oct 30, 2017 at 12:52 am
              Kamal you are trying to reason with a narrow minded, uneducated, uninformed bigot. Don't waste your time.
            2. Mobashshir Kareem
              Oct 30, 2017 at 2:27 am
              ii agree with sumaish as well as kamal. almost every group has done something wrong. But the REAL PROBLEM is that others take matters into their own hands instead of the police or the court. this is the main reason why we hate each other even though we r all Indians JAI HIND!
            3. H
              Oct 29, 2017 at 8:57 pm
              For the first time Tavleen has confessed to a weakness in her convictions. Always sounding -sure, this time uncharacteristically she says, "what hope is there for the rule of law? And, yet there has to be." This tells me why, after experiencing the bitter betrayal by Rajeev Gandhi and Co. of the Sikhs in 1984, which made her leave the kitchen circle of Sonia, Tavleen still wants to bet on even more brazenly violent and ruthless leaders like Modi. What makes her think Modi will be better than Rajeev Gandhi? Just this compulsion to keep hoping.
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