Home > 2017 > Dalit Mobilisation, Indo-Pak Tension, J & K

Mainstream, VOL LV No 23 New Delhi May 27, 2017

Dalit Mobilisation, Indo-Pak Tension, J & K

Saturday 27 May 2017, by SC

EDITORIAL

In recent times one special feature of the Indian political situation is the fact that Dalits are asserting themselves across the country. This has been the result of persisting attacks on Dalits in different areas, the most recent Dalit mobilisation in the Capital on May 21 having been triggered by the anti-Dalit violence in UP’s Saharanpur and the response to it from the Yogi Adityanath Government there.

Such a Dalit protest, as underlined in The  Indian Express, has been “remarkable for rising above the immediate contexts to highlight broader issues of discrimination, from basic safety to right for political expression to landlessness among Dalits”.

Taking a broader view of current developments one observes that while suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester (UK) led to the killing of 22 persons earlier this week thus revealing once again the face of terror in Europe (this was the worst terror attack on British soil since 2005), the India-Pakistan border is hotting up once again. Last Tuesday (May 23) the Indian Army released a short video clip of a “punitive assault” by the Indian side on Pakistani Army posts and terror launch-pads in J&K’s Nowshera sector on May 9 in retaliation to the beheading of two Indian soldiers in the Krishna Ghati sector on May 1. This was followed by the Pakistani Army spokesman releasing a video clip the next day to substantiate Islamabad’s claim that it had destroyed Indian posts across the LoC (a claim described by India as false).

There is no doubt that tension along the border has risen enormously in the last few days. And simultaneously the language used by the military on both side has deteriorated in large measure adding to the tension.

Meanwhile Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has decided to honour Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi, who had tied a man to the bonnet of his vehicle in J&K’s Budgam last month as a shield to prevent mobs from pelting stones, on the ground that by doing so he had prevented collateral damage on any side. This has evoked varied reactions. The man, tied to the vehicle, a shawl embroidery artisan, Farooq Ahmad Dar, when he heard of the decision to present an award to Major Gogoi, said: “They just murdered justice by supporting abuse and oppression.”

The Congress, the main Opposition party at the Centre, stands divided on this issue. Captain Amarinder Singh, who heads the Congress-run Punjab State Government, supports the step and affirms: “...brutality and barbarism need to be tackled with an iron fist.”

Thankfully not everyone in the Congress endorses this view. Congress leader Digvijay Singh has no hesitation in saying: “I don’t think human shield is either ethical or correct.”

Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah has been scathing in his opposition. He writes:

 ....the Army Chief has announced a commendation for Major Gogoi while we still await the verdict of the Army’s court of inquiry into the Budgam incident. The message... is loud and clear: the Army Chief’s commendation is the state thumbing its nose at the inquiry, making a grand mockery of the “investigation”. The officer has not only been exonerated in advance but also rewarded for an act that warranted penalisation and disciplinary action.

He is not alone. A reputed TV anchorperson Karan Thapar quotes Lt General H.S. Panag, a former Northern Army commander: “Whatever the provocation, the Indian Army cannot take recourse to illegal acts.” The Lt General further maintains: “(The) image of a ‘stone-pelter’, tied in front of a jeep as a ‘human shield’, will forever haunt the Indian Army and the nation!”

And noted defence analyst Parveen Swamy warns: “Amarinder Singh’s iron fist might desolate Kashmir, but it will also lead India to certain defeat.”

The moot question is: are the authorities, and members of the ruling dispensation in particular, in any frame of mind to listen to such notes of caution? Jawaharlal Nehru, whose fiftythird death anniversary we shall observe this week, would have definitely done so since for that intrepid democrat the interest, welfare and well-being of his people stood above everything else.

May 25 s.c.

ISSN : 0542-1462 / RNI No. : 7064/62