“The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us”. – Dr B R Ambedkar, in his last speech in the Constituent Assembly, Constituent Assembly Debates On November 25, 1949
We have seen another spate of violence in the country on three counts. Though the causation for the violence has been different, the modus-operandi and the intent seem to be the same. We need to understand and analyse the anatomy of this street violence to deal with it effectively.
Even after her suspension from the party and legal action being set in motion against Nupur Sharma and others for the allegedly controversial comments, a religious frenzy mob erupted on the street after Friday prayers in as many as thirty cities. Threat to quote the Islamic scriptures in response to mocking of Shivalinga by one of the Islamic leaders, Tasleem Rehmani, is projected as a blasphemy. Soon it is turned into a life and death issue. The secular-fundamentalist leadership always flaunted Muslims as a vote bank. Several electoral setbacks around that assumption have frustrated them. They sensed an opportunity in this manufactured controversy and instigated the commoners.
The Congress protests and subsequent violence in support of Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald Case is an extension of the same frustration with an added dimension of dynastic corruption. As per the case history, Raul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, and others have allegedly hatched the conspiracy to usurp a disproportionate amount by diverting the party funds to an entity called Young Indian. From the party fund, a loan amount worth Rs 90 crores were given to the Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), which was later taken over by the Young Indian. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have 76 per cent shares in the new company. As the thousands of crores of properties owned by AJL are involved in the case, on suspicion of money laundering, the ED called Rahul Gandhi for questioning. The Congress party used this opportunity to mobilise the demoralised cadre. Roads were blocked, and police personnel were attacked. Again the casualty is truth and peace.
The violent protests against Agnipath, a recruitment scheme for the Armed Forces, are the most ridiculous one. The Agniveers, youth in the age group of 17.5 to 21 (later increased to 23), would be recruited on a short-term basis under this scheme. All over the world, such mechanisms are in place. The Agnipath is going to give employment to fifty thousand youth in a year. Though they won’t get any retirement benefits, they are entitled to a regular salary, all the service benefits, including insurance and a tax-free sum of around 12 lacs at the end of four years tenure. The skills they acquire at such a young age would be an added advantage. Based on the performance, twenty-five per cent of them would be accommodated with a regular commission. An agitation is being carried out based on a disinformation campaign leading to damage of public properties, mainly the railways.
There seems to be a concerted effort to take Bharat on the path of the Civil War under some pretext which is a concerning trend when Bharat is carving out its own space on the global stage. We need a more reasoned civil society discussion based on facts. The Governments should give a stern message to the violent protesters and rioters irrespective of their political or religious affiliations. The Union Government should devise a better communication strategy to reach out to the masses about the schemes and programmes to avoid miscommunication of any sort. Taking society on the violent path may be beneficial for the short term political gains but in the long run it is playing with fire. As Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar warned, using the protests and Satyagraha to instigate violence is not acceptable in a democratic system, and this should be our consensual position vis-a-vis violence.