Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Select a bus, burn it and make sure the media knows"

A new leak, this time from the tapped phones of Shiv Sena leaders Milind Narvekar and Neelam Gorhe, provides insight into the political strategising of this well-known political party. Planning a demonstration that took place in Pune last Monday, Narvekar told Gorhe:

“200 to 300 people should be deployed. Buses should be destroyed at Shivajinagar bus stand and Swargate bus stand. Destroy five State transport buses. That way traffic will be disturbed. Block the Mumbai Pune express way. Put two buses and two trucks on fire. In Shivajinagar, select a bus, burn it and make sure the media knows about it. But none of this should look orchestrated.”

In common with previous more publicised phone leaks, this does not qualitatively change what is generally known about the people involved, but does give a clearer picture of the callous attitude of our politicians towards public property and public welfare.

It's fairly obvious that the phone conversation was captured and leaked at the behest of the Nationalist Congress Party, which in terms of public behaviour often acts as Shiv Sena's alter ego (their friends the Sambhaji Brigade famously ransacked the Oriental Institute in Pune in 2004 and destroyed priceless manuscripts). The tussle between the Sena and the NCP, hard to follow in its minute details for anyone not clued in to Maharashtrian caste politics, has to do with the relative importance given to Brahmins and Marathas. It's perfectly possible that were the equations reversed and the Sena in power, the NCP or its friends would orchestrate the very same kind of activity described in the quote above. They would however be much more careful about getting caught -- the NCP head Sharad Pawar is a national leader of considerable clout, way ahead of his rivals in the Sena leadership.

What always baffles me is that politicians are able to get away labelling others "anti-national". What could be more anti-national than plotting the deliberate destruction of public property, inevitably involving  the lives of citizens as collateral damage? What, after all, do terrorists do?

On the other side we have Dr Binayak Sen, not accused of having harmed a fly (and widely known to have treated huge numbers of tribals in need of medical aid) sentenced to life imprisonment for carrying letters. While I'm pretty sure a higher court will reduce or eliminate the harsh penalty on Dr Sen, I'm not so sure any court will impose any significant deterrent on the anti-national bus-burners.

8 comments:

aativas said...

I feel the same 'known disgust' .. nothing new, but where is the alternative? We need to explore collectively and individually .. by all possible ways and means - of course legitimate!

vbalki said...

And yet much of the intelligentsia thinks that Indians lack foresight, and are pastmasters at ad hoc-ism! If this isn't paying attention to detail, what is? How can matters of vital national interest such as wanton destruction of public propertty be left to mere chance? It takes careful planning!

Taatya Vinchu said...

A pen is mightier than a sword... is it really? For well over 40 years, such parties have openly resorted to violence, destroyed property, and have been actively involved in moral policing of all kinds! The question is, what can we keyboard warriors do? The answer, at least judging from the past 40 years, is "nothing"!

We can continue to express disgust, frustration and anger... swallow it all up and continue on our merry way till our time's up and the second and third generations of these parties will continue to their "good" work and keep getting elected! I am sure I am not the only marathi manoos who feels this way. This reminds me of a very good Nana Patekar directed movie "Prahaar" where dealt with this very issue. Unless we equate these activities as anti-national and impose extremely severe penalties (not so much on the street fighters, but the plotters), such activities are unlikely to stop any time soon.

Dark Legend said...

It appears some action is contemplated: see

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/uddhav-aide-could-be-arrested-for-pune-violence-75825

Sunil Mukhi said...

@Taatya: Strange though that Nana Patekar has campaigned for the Sena and considers its leader his "good friend"...

@Dark Legend: I try not be cynical but in these situations "action is contemplated" usually means the exact opposite of what it says...

Dark Legend said...

The alleged conspirators are reported to have been arrested and released on bail.

Now the question arises as to whether adequate follow-up action ensues. Fortunately, there is something an Indian citizen can do to ensure that this does.

The collective creative genius of the Constituent Assembly, which drafted the Constitution of India, incorporated therein Article 226. This article contains provisions to empower High Courts to issue directions, orders and writs for the enforcement of rights. Elsewhere the Constitution also requires citizens to "safeguard public property and to abjure violence" [Article 51A (i)]. And judgments – such as the salutary one in 1949 by that eminent jurist, M.C. Chagla (quoted on Page 231 of "Extraordinary Legal Remedies", a book jointly written by our father, P.M. Mukhi) – have emphasized the vested interest of citizens in common property – such as a municipal or State Transport bus.

Therefore, if there are no developments within a reasonable time, the Commissioner of Police and/or his juniors would be liable to face a writ of mandamus (an order to take action). Hypothetically, the Commissioner and/or his juniors could even countenance removal from office should a writ of quo warranto be filed against their continuance in the post (admittedly, this writ, which is specifically mentioned in Article 226, is scarcely used. That by itself is no ground for it not to be employed - had the framers of the Constitution not wanted to permit its use, they would have said so).

Since the cause of action has arisen in Pune, here is an opportunity for a tax-paying resident of that city (whose locus standi cannot be disputed) to:

a) monitor the situation closely, by studying the local media, visiting the Commissioner of Police's office, filing an RTI application, etc.
b) write to the Commissioner of Police, Pune, if there are no developments (such as the filing of a charge-sheet) within a reasonable period of time.
c) in the hypothetical event of the Commissioner's continuous failure to act, to file one or more writ petitions praying for the enforcement of the appropriate provisions of the Constitution of India and the Indian Penal Code and simultaneously questioning the continuance in office of the incumbents for failure to discharge their duties adequately.

Contact information for the Commissioner is available on the website: http://punepolice.maharashtra.gov.in/

Dark Legend said...

The alleged conspirators are reported to have been arrested and released on bail.

Will adequate follow-up action ensue? Fortunately, there is something an Indian citizen can do to ensure that this does.

The Constituent Assembly, which drafted the Constitution of India, incorporated Article 226, which contains provisions to empower High Courts to issue directions, orders and writs for the enforcement of rights. The Constitution also requires citizens to "safeguard public property and to abjure violence" [Article 51A (i)]. And judgments – such as the salutary one in 1949 by that eminent jurist, M.C. Chagla (quoted on Page 231 of "Extraordinary Legal Remedies", a book jointly written by our father, P.M. Mukhi) – have emphasized the vested interest of citizens in common property – such as a municipal or State Transport bus.

Therefore, if there are no developments within a reasonable time, the Pune Police would be liable to face a writ of mandamus (an order to take action). Hypothetically, the Commissioner and/or his juniors could even countenance removal from office should a writ of quo warranto be filed against their continuance in the post.

Since the cause of action has arisen in Pune, here is an opportunity for a tax-paying resident of that city (whose locus standi cannot be disputed) to:

a) monitor the situation closely, by studying the local media, visiting the Commissioner of Police's office, filing an RTI application, etc.
b) write to the Commissioner of Police, Pune, if there are no developments (such as the filing of a charge-sheet) within a reasonable period of time.
c) in the hypothetical event of the Commissioner's continuous failure to act, to file one or more writ petitions praying for the enforcement of the appropriate provisions of the Constitution of India and the Indian Penal Code and simultaneously questioning the continuance in office of the incumbents for failure to discharge their duties adequately.

Contact information for the Commissioner is available on the website: http://punepolice.maharashtra.gov.in/

Taatya Vinchu said...

Dark Legend chalked out a really nice course of action; looks like he definitely knows a thing or two about our judiciary system. As much as this suggestion looks good on paper, it still is difficult to implement for a common, tax-paying resident of the city as nobody in their right minds would like to jeopardize their own safety and that of their family members by taking such a step. It is certainly not uncommon to find the R.T.I activists being threatened or even killed in the process. I just read a news article about this:

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/slain-rti-activists-aide-ambushed-in-pune/139194-3.html

If only one could follow Dark Legend's course of action, but without revealing one's identity, that then could be a water-tight plan.

I am thinking of something... what if one transforms the pay-scales of all the law implementation agencies, like the police force especially. Starting from the junior most person, if their wages are made on par with the MNCs, would their be a better implementation of the law? Would that then de-couple the politics from policing? Can one then take Dark Legend's course of action without worrying about one's own safety?

To Sunil Mukhi: It is indeed surprising why some very well respected people, in spite of being against such far-right agenda, continue to lend credibility to such organizations by appearing in their functions, not taking a stand etc...