Chief of Dera Saccha Sauda, Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim, has been convicted and sentenced to jail on the charge of sexually assaulting two women. After violence on the day of conviction, that took more than thirty lives and injured ten times more people, there has been no report of violence and loss of life. Rampaging followers of baba, who engaged in arson, mob violence and damage to public property, have been kept in check. Security personnel have come out fully prepared in battle gear and army has resorted to flag march in sensitive towns.
Question obviously emerges could these steps have not been taken earlier? Why did violence that broke out on 25th of Aug, not dealt with adequately and controlled? Why police force was not kept on alert, why section 144 was not enforced in all sensitive towns, why preventive arrests were not made, and why crowd was allowed to gather in the town where verdict was to be pronounced? There was information that violence may happen. Pictures were telecast on live TV how riotous mob overturned OB vans of media, attacked and beat up reporters. All the while police stood by, watched like a mute spectator and took pictures. In India police do not use force routinely. That is because politicians control police. Loss of life is not good for getting vote. Eventually, however, police was allowed to use force in Haryana. Court had also ordered government to use force to curb hooliganism. Majority of people who lost their lives, were supporters of Dera chief.
Haryana government has promised to compensate TV channels whose vans and equipments were damaged. Question is who will fund the compensation. Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered attachment of Dera Chief’s property to recover cost of damage to public property. Question is who will buy and then live to enjoy the property? So attaching property will not be of any use, unless Dera is closed down lock stock and barrel and property is sold. At the same time it cannot be ignored that Dera as an organisation does philanthropic work for poor people. It runs schools and hospitals.
Haryana CM Mr. Manohar Lal Khattar has come under a lot of criticism. This is the third major incidence of riot, that has happened under chief ministership of Mr. Khattar. Earlier, during quota agitation by Jat community also Mr. Khattar had been found to be indecisive like a deer caught under arc light. Is Mr. Khattar a believer in innate goodness of human beings and tends to err on the side of caution? Or alternatively, as many critics tend to believe, Mr. Khattar is inexperienced in the matter of administration, which shows up under crisis situation? It is also believed that since BJP took help of Dera chief to win assembly election in Haryana, he was lenient towards Dera chief and his supporters. No wonder, Dera chief appeared on judgement day in a convoy of more that 100 cars.
BJP has taken credit for taking measure to present Dera chief before court and his eventual conviction. It must be remembered that another spiritual guru in Haryana had many high profile devotees. This guru, Mr. Ram Lal, ignored more than forty court summons over a span of four years. Ultimately armed police had to break into his premises.
It is a matter of debate, if taking preventive measures taken in advance, can actually bring down nuisance caused by supporters of local chieftain. More so, when hooligans are ready to sacrifice their lives for the cause of their leader. I think police should be prepared to tackle the eventuality even if that means using lethal force if necessary. For this to happen, police should be taken out of political control and given decision making authority.