PUCL Bulletin, May 2002
We Maintain a Calendar of Disorder?
Should we maintain a Calendar of Disorder, for that alone will chronicle a true history of the people? History as it is chronicled does not tell us of the daily lives of the people, their insecurities, their anxieties, their fears, their apprehensions as members living in a society. It is not right to life that lawyers and judges talk about in seminar halls; by human rights activists in hall meetings. These are trained to entertain us to Barmicides feast. We are not talking about all these things. When we are talking about the Calendar of disorder. We are talking about the Right to be alive as a collective in a society. The state protects itself by draconian laws when its security is threatened or public order disturbed. Disorder pertains to the ordinary people and the way it plagues their lives. It deals with their Right To Be Alive.
Our right to be alive
was ruptured even as we got our Independence. We wrote in our Constitution
our human collective's objects. A society riven with vast social disparities,
which engendered violence, did not deal with these disparities honestly.
Religions, mainly Hindu and Muslim, had lived together in the past, revolted
against the Imperial Rule in the past, but the relationship has always
been fragile. Every Government of India Act introduced a dose of what
the British called parliamentary democracy. With the Government of India
Act 1935 the British gave us as much democracy as would serve their Imperial
purposes. We failed to understand that democracy is a way of life an that
operating representative institutions needed a change in the social structure
and it needs a change in our attitude to the religious structure; that
religion should aid in bringing about social change and the if that is
not possible it should take a back seat in the process of transformation.
We demanded of the British to have our own constitution with equality
as a key concept, when we were fully aware that even a rudimentary form
of equality was not possible and would not be conceded with in the Hindu
community, and as between Hindu and other religions in this subcontinent.
of representative institutions has always been flawed. We understand these
institutions in terms of power. We perceived these representative institutions
as instruments for capture of power without physical battle or violence.
Pursuit of adversarial politics for its own sake has converted even this
into a violent exercise. It is within these representative institutions
that we thought we could regulate religious and caste practices and our
relationship with other religions, class and race. This we did not manage
unregulated, frequent violent clashes have been used for maintaining a
level of disorder which would prevent the minorities laying claims to
Even at the threshold
of independence we found out that our religions and their practices are
such that they can never live together and so Pakistan separated and the
violence of partition was with us for several years. The disorder created
by our politics of partition continuing even after Independence and the
Constitution; continued to be characterized as communal violence. It does
not sufficiently highlight the role of religions in the politics of capture
of power. Law does not regulate this violence. Religious violence completes
its cycle, dies down invariably without any effort by the state. The violence
of partition left scars in the communities perpetuated distrust between
them for several years and as long as this fear lasted the poor who lived
together were leading lives of insecurity unable to even guess when and
where the violence will erupt and when their right to be live will be
terminated. From the time of our Independence the tenuous relationship
of the Hindus and Muslims has been made a part of adversarial politics.
This ensured the continuous presence of disorder. Religious festivals
of these two principal religious communities have always the occasion
to unleash this Religious violence.
People were killed
in large numbers by the outburst of large-scale religious violence; we
always thought that religious violence would be confined to Muslim minority.
We were to realize that Operation Blue Star in Amritsar brought in the
Sikh minority into sharp focus, the mass scale massacre of Sikh community
in 1984 still remains unredressed. So we have Darshan Kaur, witness to
the killing of her husband in 1984 going around looking for justice. The
Government knew that she would be targeted and have provided her a security
guard. The Khalistani "terrorists were liquidate in large numbers
and advocate Khalra was killed because he dared to audit the dead among
the Sikhs. And such of those who escaped liquidation are prosecuted under
the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987. Quite a
few thousands were administratively liquidated.
The Ayodhya Rath Yathra
in the beginning of 1990 was a galloping incitement to Religious violence.
It was planned to achieve the demolition of the Mosque. This disorder
has acquired legitimacy. It led to the demolition of the Mosque. This
led to the large scale unleashing of Religious violence which led the
killing of more than a thousand and quite a few thousands became refugees
in the cities and towns where they lived and were eking out their livelihood
till the previous day of the riot. Godhra in Gujarat is more blatant than
all the previous episodes of religious violence. No doubt that the accurate
scholarship we have will soon unearth the sequence from Godhra to the
vengeance that followed leading to over seven hundred killed and burnt
alive. Religious violence has taken a larger toll of human lives than
terrorists have over a ten-year period commencing from 1990.
The question is when
are we going to upgrade this "disorder " into a threat to Public
Order and "threat to security of state" and frame a proper Penal
and Procedure Code and safeguard the Right to be Alive? Or will legal
pundits say that minorities are neither part of the public nor the state
and therefore not entitled to be upgraded? The International Criminal
Code recognized targeting a religious group as genocide. Will this fact
not be recognized and will not this "disorder" qualify for heavier
penalties and stringent preventive action.? Should we not introduce the
principle of constructive liability leading to political ostracism for
complicity by the leadership? Merely because these hordes use articles
of every day use for mayhem should we refrain from calling them terrorist?
Mr. Home Minister possession of ordinary torch light cells were considered
sufficient for framing charges under TADA or POTO