MNS must bear the burden of a backlash

Joginder Singh

Under the Indian Constitution, every citizen has the fundamental right to live anywhere in the country and carry on his profession or trade. One cannot call a 61-year-old democracy, like ours, a young one where people have to learn traditions, customs and the rule of law. The Supreme Court of India has laid down that how ever high you may be, the law is above you. It is a laudable ruling, but vote-bank politics has given it a new interpretation: if what you do is going to benefit the party in power, then your action or inaction will be winked at and a Nelson’s Eye turned to it.
To start a political party or to become a politician, no qualification is required, except that you should be able to rouse rabble, indulge in hooliganism, cause damage to public property. In short, do anything which can attract public and media attention.
These days Mumbai is in the news for the violent use of “son of the soil” theory by a local and petty politician who has started his own chauvinistic local outfit against a former similar party. Both these outfits’ mottos are Maharashtra for Maharashtians only, in business, jobs, industry and everything else. They do not confine themselves only to pleading or writing, but force their point of view with aggression, brutality, carnage and bloodshed.
Recently, one north Indian was shot dead in a bus and another killed in a train. Expressing their aversion to non-Maharashtrians, one of their leaders said, “Ee Bihari sau bimari (One person from Bihar is equal to a 100 diseases)”.
Mumbai has been burnt more than once on this issue. Strangely the leaders of these outfits, despite being leading goons, have been provided the highest level of security by the government of Maharashtra.
While dismissing a PIL seeking action against Raj Thackeray and the de-recognition of his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MSN), a Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and Markandey Katju, on February 23, 2008 expressed their dismay at the “son of the soil” theory and said that its divisive nature conflicted with the constitutional guarantee to every citizen to work and settle in any part of the country. “We know what is happening. The “son of the soil” theory is not acceptable. We will not permit Balkanisation of the country”.
This concept boils down to the premise that we are the original residents and were here first and you by coming here are occupying better positions, taking our job opportunities and crowding us out of our resources. So you better leave so that we can have a better life.
While the Indian Constitution lays down the fundamental right to equality and everybody agrees on the equality principle, yet most states overtly or covertly, want all opportunities to go only to local natives. They want to be fair to their own people, which means being unfair to other Indians.
The so-called protagonists have reduced law to a paper tiger. They are confident that the local administration and police would not touch them due to the politics of vote-bank, which has become the presiding deity. The hoodlums are solely responsible for the reprehensible attacks on north Indians and Biharis who had recently travelled to Mumbai to appear for the Railway Recruitment Board examinations. They destroyed public property and burnt buses after their leader was arrested, that too happened only after the media built pressure and exposed how the country was being held to ransom and how the local government was turning a blind eye to the happenings in the state.
The question as to what the police are doing and why they cannot enforce the law fairly and squarely has been answered by Prof. David H. Bailey who says: “In India today, a dual system of criminal justice has grown, one of the law and the other of politics. With respect at least to the police, decisions made by police officials about the application of law are frequently subject to partisan review or direction by the elected representatives. The autonomy of police officials, in specific and routine application of law, has been severally curtailed… Altogether then the rule of law in modern India, the frame upon which justice hinges, has been undermined by the rules of politics”.
The governments of the day, who are pampering the hooligans and holding back the police from doing its duty, seem to have forgotten that there is a time to stand aside and there is a time to show that good governance cannot be sacrificed.
It is an old law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. About 35,000 migrants, mostly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have left Maharashtra, specially Mumbai and Pune, out of apprehension of being physically harmed. Nearly 3.5 crore Marathis can be equally adversely affected if all states adopt the same policy. Backlash has already started in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh over these incidents.
The question of north Indians migrating to Maharashtra, specifically to Mumbai, and allegedly grabbing jobs from local Maharashtrians is at the back of the problem. The fact that a crime can be justified in the interest of the “sons of the soil”, is no defence in law.
It is true that pleadings will not change anything, but then nothing will change unless it is attempted. Since the first, second and third priority of a politician is to get elected, this is uppermost in all his actions and deeds.
As Shirley MacLaine once said, “It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he’s in love, drunk, or running for office”.
No matter that patriotism is often considered the refuge of scoundrels, it is the duty of true patriots to dissent, rebel and raise hell in the interest of the nation.