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Posted at: Apr 15, 2018, 1:23 AM; last updated: Apr 15, 2018, 1:55 AM (IST)
Ira Pande
TOUCHSTONES
Ira Pande

Subverting the rule of law

Ira Pande
From Parliament to the SC, from universities to financial institutions, what we have witnessed over the last few years is a slow, but determined dismantling of the rule of law
Subverting the rule of law
PTI
So, this is what we have reduced our country to: a place where an eight-year-old child is raped inside a temple by patriotic ‘Indians’ and a policeman who wants one last chance to rape the drugged child before they kill her, smash her face and dump her lifeless body in a forest. In another state, a young girl is repeatedly raped by a powerful politician’s nephew who then threatens her family with dire consequences if they dare to report the crime. When that fails, he gets her father killed by complicit policemen. God alone knows how many other bestial deeds go unreported by victims who are too scared and beaten down by the sheer power of the local goon brigade. I am not even going to speak of the crimes against minorities or the riots and violence they face every day in the remote corners of this benighted country we call Bharat.

The details being unspooled every day by the SIT investigating the Kathua incident are now so vile that even reading about these has become difficult. Just this morning, there was a heart-rending account of her father wailing that his innocent child didn’t even know her left from her right limb, what would she know of being a Hindu or a Muslim? What threat was she or her nomadic family to the silky fat cats who have tried to stop any court proceedings by a dharna staged by the town’s lawyers? All this happens as our venerable politicians and leaders sit in meaningless fasts and protests to register their outrage against each other. 

Are they so dumb that they cannot sense the enormous rage that their callousness is stirring up? From our Parliament to the Supreme Court, from our universities to our banks and financial institutions, what we have witnessed over the last few years is a slow, but determined dismantling of the rule of law. The sin now lies in being caught so the message that has been sent is that every Indian is free to murder and loot and break the law as long as it goes unreported. We swear by the sanctity of the Constitution, touch our forehead reverentially on the steps of the Lok Sabha as we cross its threshold but once inside it is business as usual. 

After decades, the chant for a separate South is beginning to sound acceptable to those who live beyond the Vindhyas. The unity that was forged by our founding fathers from the vast diversity of this land is under constant attack and sadly, there are no Gandhis, Nehrus, Azads or Patels to contain it. In the coming year, when several important states will go to the polls, this cycle of violence and hatred will only intensify. Many of us can see the huge public anger that is slowly gathering momentum: from jobless youth to distressed farmers, from persecuted minorities to young women who are no longer willing to submit to the patriarchal bullying of khap panchayats, from those who have lost livelihoods to those who have been cheated by land sharks…the list is growing by the day. One day, sooner than we realise it, this simmering anger will turn into a flood that will swamp all of us, good or bad. Who knows what 2019 will bring us: as Yeats feared almost a century ago, ‘What rough Beast slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?’ The choice, it seems to me, is between communalism and corruption. So, choose what you consider the lesser evil.

If we can take any solace, it is in the fact that virtually every nation is undergoing the same angst. Our neighbour and estranged twin is in an even darker place as Husain Haqqani’s recent book (Reimagining Pakistan) shows. Look beyond and you will find that from the Americas to Europe and the Middle East and from South Asia to the Far East, a dreadful storm is brewing. As people lose faith in their leaders and democratic values, one can predict a period of anarchy when the weak and the inexperienced will take charge and law and order will cease to hold the system in place.  

As a child of the 50s who saw the best years of India and lived in a world that was safe and secure, I am ashamed of what we are bequeathing to our children and grandchildren. India today is a frightening dystopia where the worst have risen to the top and where every system is collapsing after years of neglect and callousness. We have failed our women, our minorities, our children and our peasants. Our banks have been looted by a handful of cronies and our politicians so accustomed to their comfort that they no longer care whether their constituencies are safe or even clean. Unspeakable crimes have been perpetrated by godmen who run profitable deras and ashrams and who practise the very evil they give sermons about. Who does one trust?

If there is any hope for our country it is in those quiet workers who have dedicated their lives to the marginalised and poor. To people, like the Imam of Asansol, whose son was killed in the riots there but who forbade his followers from retaliation or to Asifa’s father who says his Allah will give him justice.  In such people and such an Allah lies our only hope.

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