Bharat Bandh - How discussions over the violence shadowed the protests' cause
Credits to Snapchat I got to see live videos of the protests taken by people from their homes. The protests are bad (obviously, it's nationwide). The citizens who have got nothing to do with the protests are quite annoyed with the incidents since it's causing inconvenience to their daily lives. But everyone is so focused on the magnitude of the protests that they are forgetting the main reason and what caused the SC/ST to act like this in the first place. A quite community suddenly, for once decides to fight and everyone has a problem with it.
The government had tried to redress the protesters’ main grievance, and sought a review of the SC order on April 2. However, the order had been passed on March 20. Why did the government wait till the protests began? In theory, the court is not wrong. Laws assuming the guilt of the accused can be easily misused. However, “fair, just and reasonable” procedures need to factor in the reality that objectivity can sometimes hamper equality.
In such a scenario, the law needs to guard against misuse without disempowering those it seeks to protect. This is a tough balance, and needs public discussion and debate, which our political leaders should have initiated, instead of trying to decide who threw the first stone.
Leaders busy in mudslinging
Tuesday was also the day when the Supreme Court refused to stay its order amending the Atrocities Act. However, social media, was abuzz with conspiracy theories about the violence. Politicians, blamed both the Congress and the BJP for inciting and allowing the violence, picking out facts – like the worst-affected states, such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, were ruled by the BJP – and using it to come up with theories.
The senior political leadership in the country did no better. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was deafeningly silent on the issue (while tweeting cheerily about Padma awards), and Rahul Gandhi and Amit Shah removed the centrality of Dalits from the narrative, making it a mud-slinging competition between their parties.
Does this suggest rampant “misuse” of the Act, as the SC fears, or poor investigation and victim-witness intimidation? These are the questions that the government should be answering, and the Opposition asking.