Rule of law is sacrosanct in any progressive democracy and ensures the rights of all the people. Rule of law means that apart from everybody being equal in the eyes of the law, the state is to be governed not by the elected representatives, but by the law of the land. This prevents administrative and legislative excesses and safeguards the rights and freedoms of the people, as enshrined in the Constitution.
So far, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's principal legacy is that he has overseen the replacement of the rule of law with the rule of the mob. To further its perverse ideological and political agenda, the BJP has established violence as the first and last resort, for everything. An atmosphere of fear, threat, and intimidation seems to be the new normal.
Lynch mobs and vigilante justice has become the norm under the BJP government. Dalits and Muslims have been attacked by gau rakshaks on mere suspicion of storing beef or transporting cows. Horrific atrocities have been committed in Muzzaffarnagar, Dadri, Una, Sunped, Udhampur, New Delhi, etc. What's worse is that when gau rakshaks brutally killed a Muslim man in Alwar recently, BJP minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, flatly denied that such an incident even took place.
Seven people were lynched over mere rumours of child abduction right under the nose of the police and administration in the BJP-ruled Jharkhand, shattering any sense of rule of law or rule by-law. In one of the most visible vigilante events, journalists were assaulted and beaten as they waited to see the trial of JNU Students' Union President, Kanhaiya Kumar, who was falsely accused of sedition, while the police watched mutely. Similarly, in Chhattisgarh, journalist Malini Subramaniam was forced to leave after a self-styled anti-Maoist group tried to intimidate her.
The 'anti-Romeo' squads (purportedly created to tackle the issue of sexual harassment) are running amok, targeting young men and women who freely associate with each other. They are arbitrarily imposing moral policing to further the perverse agenda of the Hindu Right that 'Hindu girls' should not interact with 'others.' In a vulgar display of vigilantism on 22 March, 2017, a band of residents, on finding a boy and a girl moving around together in a part of Shahjanpur, tonsured the youth (shaved his head) while the police merely watched.
Centres of excellence and education are riddled with campus violence and protesting students are persecuted, hounded and often denied even their fundamental right to education.
Delhi University's Ramjas College is a case in point. When two student leaders of JNU, Shehla Rashid and Umar Khalid, were invited to speak at a seminar in Ramjas, the BJP's youth wing, ABVP, vociferously protested their participation and violently disrupted a peaceful dialogue in a conference room. The ABVP blocked all escape routes and without warning, pelted those inside with stones and bricks for well over an hour, all the while screaming abuses. Instead of providing security for the event and enforcing the rule of law, the state apparatus reportedly facilitated its breach, by being mute bystanders to ABVP's attack on teachers and students.
Institutional murders seem to have become the norm under the BJP — eight under-trials were killed in what seems to be a fake and cold-blooded encounter in Madhya Pradesh. There were reports about BJP president Amit Shah allegedly misusing the CBI brazenly to harass BK Bansal, a senior civil servant, simply because the latter refused to kowtow to him. Tortured and cornered, Bansal and his entire family were driven to suicide. Two BJP ministers also spearheaded the persecution of Dalit scholar, Rohith Vemula, driving him to suicide.
Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal, a 70-year-old ex-serviceman was forced to take his life recently, because of the NDA's apathy towards the welfare of armed forces. Not only did the NDA bitterly resist One Rank One Pension (OROP) tooth-and-nail from May 2014 to almost the end of 2015, it even went so far as to physically manhandle ex-servicemen, and detain opposition leaders who went to visit the family of the retired soldier.
Democratically elected governments in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh were dismissed by the BJP and President's Rule imposed. It took the intervention of the Supreme Court to restore democracy in these border states.
Despite all of this, the prime minister is unwilling to enforce the rule of law and check state as well as non-state actors from misusing their powers or violating law with impunity. Each such incident dilutes people's faith in the State. In turn, the government tries to silence dissent and critics using all means possible, both legal and illegal.
In a sad state of affairs, the State can no longer be relied upon to be the infallible protector and promoter of constitutional values. What is happening is not only a gross violation of rule of law but is also the systematic dismantling of the system that was envisioned by our founding fathers to protect us from tyranny and give us a chance of living as equals under the watchful eye of the Constitution.
The author is head of research, All India Congress Committee and a Member of Parliament
Updated Date: Jul 07, 2017 08:58 AM