Rajouri Hate Crime

Like Atal Behari Vajpayee’s celebrated raj dharm ka palan karein days after Hindutva bloodlust had been sated in Gujarat, Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh’s “keep calm” suffixed to his approval of defiling sacred symbols of other faiths as a nationalistic act can claim its place at the most hallowed pedestals of majoritarian India’s hall of fame, untainted as it is even of token Vajpayeeian expressions of regret like India hanging its head in shame at the post-Godhra bloodbath. Far from conveying a sense of reassurance for vulnerable communities in the Jammu region, the Deputy Chief Minister’s words appear to have an ominous and chilling ring quite in the manner of a commander of an extermination squad asking his bloodhounds to bide their time to experience unbounded pleasures in putting their profession into practice.

The threat has evidently worked, striking dread in the very heart of the state government, as the Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, who is also the Home Minister of the realm, has not let out the tiniest bleat over an incident that put a sensitive border district in Jammu and Kashmir under curfew for nearly a week. Sub-letting being the region’s most favoured Standard Operating Procedure, Mr Sayeed could not have remained completely immune and has therefore been obliged to surrender his charge to more qualified hands. Under such extraordinary circumstances, it is natural that the state’s police force and numerous security agencies should launch massive manhunts in the Kashmir Valley for stray youth brandishing the IS flag during demonstrations against excesses, while confirmed progenitors of hate, violence and mayhem go scot free in a clear case of inciting communal violence with acts designed to inflame passions.

The moot point here is whether Mr Sayeed himself has read up the latest in law on hate crimes and hate speeches, and if not, whether the galaxy of legal luminaries adorning his durbar, including a minister who reportedly is on a foreign jaunt to study the possibility of setting up a National Law University in Jammu and Kashmir, can spare the time to do it for him by proxy. Regardless of the futility of such idle speculation, questions about a total lack of punitive action against the culprits involved in the Rajouri incident cannot be avoided, particularly when the crime was committed brazenly in broad daylight, and not in the anonymity of cyberspace. The police force under Mr Sayeed, as well as under his predecessors, has shown itself highly adept in the virtual world and blind as bats when crimes are committed in front of its nose. To overturn a Sanskrit proverb, the ruler gets the servants he deserves.

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