From Manipur to Haryana, Unbiased Governments Should be Able to Stop Sectarian Violence Very Soon

bulldozer raj nuh haryana

The recent communal violence in Nuh district of Haryana and neighboring areas has evoked widespread concern. In an interview published in the Indian Express (August 7), Dushyant Chautala, Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana, stated that this is a matter of serious concern and the state government has taken several important steps to stop this. However on the same day the Hindu published a report titled ‘In Panipat, armed men vandalize shops owned by Muslims’. This report stated that a mob moved around in Panipat and threatened Muslim traders at three different locations to leave the area. Some of these traders suffered minor injuries. A woman shopkeeper said her shop was vandalized and money taken away. Other shopkeepers, particularly meat sellers, stated the same.

As Panipat is a long distance away from the earlier scenes of sectarian violence in Nuh and Gurugram, this has raised fears of the violence spreading and the government should take strong steps to check this.

Unfortunately the government’s actions to demolish many houses and shops in Nuh district with undue haste have further increased the apprehensions of the many minority community at a time when several Muslim households who had been leading a secure life in Gurugram have been forced to give up their occupations and homes here to go back to their native places.

As a report (‘No notice given, no time to collect our belongings’) in The Hindu (August 6), based on interviews with victims of the demolition drive in Nalhar village in Nuh district, has pointed out, many victims of demolition said that they did not get prior notice. One of the victims of the demolition drive had borrowed heavily from a bank to set up a pathology lab that was destroyed.   Another victim of the demolition drive who rushed to show his ownership documents saw these being torn up, it was alleged. In this as well as another report in the Indian Express dated August 7 (‘No notice issued ’: Common claim as demolitions continue for 4th day), victims have spoken about the injustice and ruin suffered by them. Certainly such hasty demolitions at a sensitive time have been very unfortunate and should have been avoided.

Eminent administrators have stated more than once that when the government acts in a completely clear and unbiased manner and there are clear directions to take firm actions against all those indulging in any communal and sectarian activities, then it does not take the government long to bring communal violence under control. The government must clearly show by its actions that it will act in this way.

In Manipur there is an extreme case of the state government’s inability to control ethnic violence which erupted over 3 months back in May, even though in terms of population and area this is a very small state and adequate security forces have been available. This is clearly a governance failure, as the government has failed in its most basic tasks and duties as well as constitutional obligations. The fact that women have suffered the most serious atrocities and violence makes the situation all the more unbearable.

Many issues such as reservations, forests and land rights, poppy cultivation, mineral wealth etc. have been mentioned in various reports that have tried to analyze the causes of the sectarian conflict in which the Kuki tribal community has suffered the most, but such issues have existed elsewhere too without leading to such a terrible and prolonged conflict. Clearly the ethnic conflict has simmered over a long time. A more responsible government would have taken steps to reduce the tensions and encourage peace movements to work with people to achieve peace and conflict resolution. However this important work has been neglected. Bias in the government machinery has added to the conflict which already existed.

While the government has to take up several corrective steps with a sense of urgency, in such conditions peace-making efforts by people’s groups should also be encouraged to make an important contribution and in the longer term, a strong peace movement should emerge in Manipur to resolve various ethnic conflicts.

Whenever in any society a community suffers and another community (or a significant number of people of this community) feels strangely happy about this, then something is basically wrong with this society which needs to be corrected for human values to prevail.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. He has contributed several booklets and articles on communal harmony.

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