Sometimes violence can erupt unexpectedly and the police can be caught unawares.
When society is sought to be turned into a gladiatorial arena of the communal kind through clever political instigation, and small communities become tinderboxes, poisonous conflagration is just a matchstick away. In the absence of political sagacity by the state’s rulers, this is what appears to have happened in Kasganj in western Uttar Pradesh.
Only a few days ago, the Yogi Adityanath government initiated administrative processes to see if the criminal cases against some of those prominently involved in the ghastly Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013, just months before the last Lok Sabha election, could be withdrawn. Several of these are leading BJP politicians and their pitch was evidently intended to polarise cotes along communal lines. This move by the Yogi government had come soon after the withdrawal of cases against the chief minister himself for spreading communal ill-will in the past.
Steps like these embolden criminals, specially those of the political kind that aim to spread enmity between communities. Such elements gain the confidence that any crimes they may commit will be overlooked in the final analysis. At the same time, insecurity is triggered in potential victims of majority community communalism. The combination of these factors produces an unhappy social environment where deeply unhealthy developments can take place.
Unfortunately, as a consequence of the social turbulence caused by the trouble in Kasganj, a young man was killed in firing, and another young man of a different community was injured. Buses, cars and shops of one community were selectively burned.
Sometimes violence can erupt unexpectedly and the police can be caught unawares. But the burning of vehicles and shops on a targeted basis occurred after the social temperature had been sent soaring. The police and district administration thus bear responsibility, and their conduct should be impartially probed. If they were allowing communal-minded bad characters to satisfy their craving for violence, it will be interesting to know the identity of those at whose behest this was being done.
There is not a little irony in the fact that scores of young men from right-wing outfits doing an unauthorised, motorbike-riding, “Tiranga Yatra” (flag-waving parade) on Republic Day should be raising charged slogans against the minorities in a Muslim area of the town. This was at a time when young Muslim men were engaged in organising a Republic Day ceremony on the streets!
This is what set off the spiral of violence. Our flag is meant to unite, not divide. But at Kasganj, we saw a cynical use of the flag for a purely pseudo-nationalist purpose. From news reports, it appears that the way the issue turned, it followed the classical anatomy of a pre-planned communal riot in which the authorities invariably react late, and the majority community goons look for openings to create violence.