There can't be business as usual with Pak, but what about elsewhere?

So-called heavyweights in the Opposition have chosen not to speak unambiguously against Pakistan, as they fear that this might undermine their minority vote bank.

Published: 08th October 2016 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th October 2016 02:47 PM   |  A+A-


Indian Army soldiers arrive at the Uri base after the attack on September 18

For the moment the war clouds have scattered. One knows not for how long we have the respite. The threat hasn’t receded. The neighbour who has stabbed us in the back more than once in the past seems to have gotten away unpunished this time too. Much has changed that can’t be undone, however. It is unimaginable that anyone—even the BCCI or Bollywood—will in the future have the temerity to suggest that politics shouldnt be ‘mixed’ with cricket and films, and people-to-people contact should be allowed to continue. Nor can anyone in his right senses persist with the demand that the dialogue with diehard separatists in Jammu and Kashmir be given priority to defuse the crisis they have created in the Valley. Uri is not going to be forgotten anytime soon, nor can it be forgiven by any government.

What bothers us more is that even in this moment of national peril, there is an articulate minority—microscopic but quite lethal—that continues to pursue a divisive agenda. To them, ‘war mongering’ is just a tactic adopted by the government to distract attention from its failures, ranging from the inability to deliver inclusive development and the dangerous abridgement of Indian democracy. While it can’t be overlooked that the government’s inability to swiftly apprehend and punish vigilantes (like gau rakshaks on rampage and sundry equally murderous self-styled custodians of swadeshi culture) has contributed to the spread of the cancer of intolerance, it is sheer stupidity to suggest that the Goebelsian Geniuses in the Parivar masterminded a conspiracy where those who rule Pakistan launch an attack on Indian installations to allow our beleaguered government an opportunity to get off the hook.

So-called heavyweights in the Opposition have chosen not to speak unambiguously against Pakistan, as they fear that this might undermine their minority vote bank. Blinded by electoral considerations, they remain tongue-tied. The Yadav clan in Uttar Pradesh has no time to spare from fratricidal feuds and for Mayawati the world outside the state has always remained hidden in a mysterious haze. Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar, never at a loss for stinging comments to admonish and demolish ‘fascist and communal’ forces, are surprisingly silent. For Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, embroiled in a water war of their own, the saga of the troubled waters of Indus belongs to some other land, another age. Bihar, ever since Nitish imposed prohibition with blind bigoted ferocity Morarji Desai would have approved, has been in a stupor. The RJD-JD(U) mocktail mixed by the great social engineer has practically knocked out that unfortunate state. Worst fears about the return of jungle raj have come true. Convicted gangster Shahabuddin roams free—released on bail—and not only victims’ families but judges too posted where his writ runs, cower and scurry for cover. It was only due to the sustained media campaign that the Bihar government was shamed into opposing the bail in the Supreme Court, but the damage has been done.

UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, not to forget Kerala, are not ruled by the BJP. Tiny Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Tripura too are not governed by it. In Delhi, the tug of war continues between AAP leaders and L-G. Political developments in the Northeast remain unpredictable. Neither Narendra Modi nor Amit Shah can distract those who rule here by mounting a sabre-rattling war-mongering side show along the border. Allegations of a diversionary conspiracy are nonsense.

The PM, home minister and external affairs minister have left us in no doubt that after Uri, there can’t be business as usual with Pakistan. But what about elsewhere? RaGa’s road show rolls on with fading hopes of rejuvenating a Congress that is in rigor mortis. When black flags are shown to him and shoes hurled, the party’s storm troopers show no signs of tolerance to dissent. Other shows go on. Five-hundredth Test match and the hype about the next rising star. Heated exchanges between Bar and Bench in the Sahara Sri case. Can we ever cope with the challenge posed by the rogue state called Pakistan if we can’t put our own house in order?

Unfortunately, some recent judgments have reinforced the impression in popular mind that the rich and powerful escape just desserts. Either they are let off with token punishment and the prison term awarded is either set off against the period spent as under-trial  or, in some exceptional cases, a police officers’ mess is designated a jail. More often than not, the trial takes so long that neither the accused nor the victim survive the ordeal. Humane jurisprudence works fine in favour of the accused,  but its rarely that someone like Mrs Katara sees closure. DG Rathore’s conviction was upheld but he wasn’t sent back to jail. Can six months imprisonment as under-trial be enough to console the family who lost their daughter and had their lives shattered? 

The writer is a former professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University


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