September 23, 2008 11:23:04 pm
The B.S. Yeddyurappa government in Karnataka is not doing itself any good by persisting in its state of denial. What’s more, the continuance of violent attacks on churches across the state is posing the danger of spill-over effects elsewhere. India cannot afford a cycle of retaliatory and counter-retaliatory violence and the explosion of mutual distrust (or even hatred) between communities. As this newspaper has argued earlier, the Karnataka government’s singular failure (and a mark of its double standards) is its inability to treat the problem as one of law and order. All right, so the government has made a few arrests, but it continues to give the impression that it had better be doing something else. A democratically elected government cannot use the “us and them” rhetoric even without intending to. If the law of the land is violated, and innocent people suffer as a result, the government’s first priority should be the re-assertion of the rule of law.
Many such innocent civilians — Christians in particular — are being victimised by the targeted attacks in Karnataka. In such circumstances, it is callous and insensitive on the part of the government to float conspiracy theories and blame everyone other than those it is assumed to be ideologically close to. In an interview to The Indian Express, the state home minister, V.S. Acharya, blamed “forces inimical to the present government” for the trouble. Asked about Pramod Mutalik’s claim of the BJP government’s support, Acharya said that Mutalik is against the Yeddyurappa government. Despite the arrest of Bajrang Dal convener Mahendra Kumar and the order of Mutalik’s (formerly of the same outfit) arrest, the government needs to ask itself if it has done enough.
The government must be perceived to stand for all people in Karnataka. But it seems more bent on looking for a conspiracy against itself and criticising the Centre’s advisories as hasty and deflecting attention from the issue of terrorism. The CM is best advised to compel his police forces to fully restore law and order, and with immediate effect. If he does that, he needn’t bother about any advisory from anywhere. But if he doesn’t, even accusing the Hindutva forces of working against the government — as Acharya did in his interview — won’t help.
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