The real shame of the 2011 Republic Day
By : Arjun.R.Shankar
In one part of this country everything was meticulously planned and arranged to showcase the valour and splendor of the 21st emerging global power—INDIA on the eve of 62nd Republic Day and on the other side was a man called Yashwant Sonawane an Additional Collector of Nasik, Maharashtra who chose to be an honest and upright man and had decided to discharge his duties with utmost sincerity and dignity. While discharging his duties even without a slightest equivocation, he was brutally burnt alive in broad daylight at a roadside eat-out at Manmad in Maharashtra’s Nasik district by the local mafia during raids to uncover illegal hoarding of kerosene and petrol.
Such a ghastly killing of a Collector is tragic and shocking and is beyond all canons of condemnation. On the eve of the Republic Day this reflects the real India, the present emerging India. An India dominated and quarterbacked by the deadly mafias. Such unbelievable but true instances about our country reminds me of the book written by Amit Bhaduri which is titled ‘The Face you were afraid to see’ in which he says that the image of India as an emerging global power is an illusion produced by private corporation which are the big players in the economic sphere.
The petrifying incident is a grim reminder of the fact that the mafias are assuming epic proportions in the system and are spreading their web in all fields.
These rancorous power mafias have barbarically shown their presence in food distribution, sugar, oil, electricity, roads, buildings, construction and many other fields. The list in this country goes unending. The whole society is encircled by the collusion of power mafias who dictate their terms and it’s always the common people like many of us who are on the receiving end. They are just the instruments of operations and on the top of the pyramid we have the top brass politicians, elites and the bureaucrats testifying an unholy and dreaded nexus. There is no doubt that in all cases there is a high level of political patronage which shields and insulates these mafias against penal actions which gives these criminals an extra edge.
These people commit such dastardly acts and we become accustomed to such bizarre and sinful acts of sold out politicians and dishonest bureaucrats that we soon forget these tragedies.
Why such incidents of disturbing magnitude happen in our country with calibrated regularity?
Now it’s high time to understand that there is a serious deficit in the whole system and that just cannot be simply attributed to a single person or institution as there are multiple entities involved. If we carefully scan through the root, the rot can be found. There is a serious failure of district administration, district magistrate and the police system because these so called dreaded mafias didn’t sprang up over a night. This orchestrated event is definitely going to raise fears and apprehensions among other upright officers, whistleblowers, human rights activist who are working relentlessly for the welfare and advancement of the people. It can raise fears for the innumerable NGO’s that are doing laudable works. Such an untimely incident can shake the confidence of many of them as this is the response which they might also get for being honest and upright. There are numerous other cases where innumerable officers and activists are facing series of ruthless and gruesome intimidations for their dedicated work. Many of the RTI workers have been seriously intimidated and even attacked.
Such attack simply undermines the very essence and the purpose of RTI. If you can ask a question and before the official reply the non official reply is a brazen attack, it is nothing but a callous undermining of the whole act.
The site where Mr Sonawane was burnt alivein broad day light
The group of whistleblowers and the activist called ‘MITRA’ is a classic testimony of this. It’s an acronym and that can simply tell things better. It means ‘Movement against Intimidation, Threat and Revenge against Activists’.
“This was formed under the initiative of activists who had to face such coward attacks says Sumaira Abdulali the convener of MITRA who herself is a victim of intimidation. She also categorically states that in the most cases the politicians have threatened them.
Another disturbing instance took place on August 2010 when the strong sand mafia in classic Taliban style attacked and stoned to death an activist named Ramdas Ghadkiokar in Maharashtra. He was a pioneer activist in uncovering various corrupt practices in PDS, fuel distribution and a strong battle against sand mafia.
A senior bureaucrat and a former cabinet secretary says that over the thirty years there were times when many honest officers were threatened to stop their concerted action against such mafias. Many settled with the ailing system in fear of losing their life and career and only some had the courage to fight back valiantly.
The rot in the system should be corrected and branding this is an inherent and endemic feature and difficult to cure is highly an unwarranted thought. At the grassroots level changes should be initiated and that should be followed to the highest level.
Wherever a mafia crime takes place there is a police station, there is a superintendent of police and there is a politician, so in such occasions the local police, district administration, politicians and other agencies should work in tandem for the ultimate good without favoritism. And the most important fact is to keep the administration and police out politics. In today’s scenario, it shouldn’t be made an arm of the state in real terms.
If we can address the deficits we can advance or else thousands of people like Yashwant Sonawane will pay the price of their honesty.
Whatever be the change, such a brazen act cannot be justified in a country like India. As India celebrates its 62nd republic day let’s hope that the real picture of India will change dramatically.
--- Team AKHSHAYAPTHRA extends its deepest sympathies to the bereaved family and friends of the victim----