If Monday’s attacks on journalists inside Patiala House Court sent shock waves, what came on Wednesday (17 February) was nothing less than shameful.
The attacks on journalists, assaults on the Jawaharlal Nehru Students’ Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar and heckling of and hurling of abuses at eminent Supreme Court lawyers painted a picture of utter anarchy and lawlessness.
A journalist from Firstpost was beaten and his mobile snatched. Another SFI leader from Sonipat was meted out similar treatment.
And when Kanhaiya arrived amidst heightened security, he was made to realise who the boss was. The police force, more in numbers than what they were on Monday, once again remained silent spectators.
What is concerning here is the way the government of India led by Narendra Modi and its law-enforcing agency Delhi Police have handled the entire episode.
Delhi police under the stewardship of its commissioner BS Bassi, rather shamelessly, continued to make a mockery of his force as he desperately tried to defend the indefensible.
Bassi felt the FIR for Monday’s violence needed to be filed against unknown persons while millions watched the faces of thugs in black coats mercilessly beating people. Their identities became more clearer as social media users began to post photos of them posing with the powerful figures in the BJP and central government.
His boss and a junior minister in MHA, Kiren Rijiju, felt since nobody was ‘murdered,’ the outrage against Monday’s brutalities was like a storm in a tea cup.
Keeping the inefficiencies and insensitivity of both the Delhi police and its political masters in the central government in mind, the journalists had knocked at the door of the Supreme Court asking for its intervention in the matter.
Among other things, they wanted the apex court to direct Delhi police to ensure safety of journalists on Wednesday, when Kanhaiya was scheduled to be produced all over again.
Supreme Court issued guidelines restricting the number of people to be present inside the Patiala House Court.
But were these orders complied with? You got to be joking. Hundreds of lawyers owing allegiance to right-wing groups turned up at the court, chanted Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai while making their intention succinctly clear.
Soon the patriotic chants turned into violence and the men, who had taken oath on Indian constitution, were seen making mockery of that book. The police, once again, either chose to stay away or even colluded with the thugs.
Supreme Court sent a six-member team consisting of eminent lawyers including Kapil Sibal, Rajiv Dhawan and Dushyant Dave to take stock of the situation while adjourning Kanhaiya’s hearing. And when these eminent lawyers arrived at Patiala House Court, even they were not spared by thugs posing as patriotic lawyers.
Dhawan in particular was called behen**** and Pakistani dalle and Bassi still had no problem with his force as he kept defending their action or lack of it. India was witness to a new definition of patriotism, where chanting of Bharat Mata ki Jai and Vande Mataram were followed by despicable acts such as hurling choicest of abuses, blatant intimidation and threats of physical harm to senior Supreme Court lawyers.
Wednesday’s developments are also chilling reminder of just how bad things have become under Modi government. Even though, there has been a mysterious silence by the right-wing sycophants such as Anupam Kher and Chetan Bhagat, who, not so long ago, shouted from the roof-top flying the flag of a tolerant India under Modi.
Delhi police’s open defiance of the Supreme Court guidelines didn’t go unnoticed. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal asked, “Delhi Police openly flouting SC orders. Bassi acting so brazenly. What is source of his confidence? What instructions does he have from his bosses?”
Not to suggest that Kejriwal doesn’t know the source of Bassi’s confidence, who surely appears to care less about the rule of law in his alleged pursuit to land himself a lucrative post retirement appointment by the Modi government.
It will be a bigger travesty of justice if the Supreme Court doesn’t take note of the blatant defiance of its orders by the Delhi Police under Bassi.
Police force in the national capital turning a blind eye to the Supreme Court’s guidelines twice in a day is a very dangerous precedence and can have monumental impact on Indian democracy.
It may sound harsh, but the Supreme Court can and must consider sacking Bassi with immediate effect, depriving him of all post retirement benefits and barring him from holding any government post for next 10 years.
While it does so, it must also instruct the Bar Council of India to strike off the licences of all those goons who have brought disgrace to the profession of law in India.
BJP MLA, OP Sharma, should be ideally in jail with proceedings underway to disqualify him as a legislator. That’s because not only did he just break the law despite being a lawmaker but his subsequent justifications to what he had done.
It’s a horrifying prospect to have a legislator, who threatens to kill somebody on national TV and he’s allowed to roam around without being made to pay for his actions.
There’s very little we can expect from either the police or the central government it reports to. The last few days of developments have sent an extremely dangerous message to the people up and down the country. The Supreme Court, therefore, must intervene to protect the values that we as a country stand for.
I would like to remind the honourable Chief Justice of India TS Thakur what he had said to a group of journalists during his first interaction after being appointed to head the apex court.
He had said, “I’m heading an institution which ensures rule of law, so long there is rule of law, so long as there is independence of judiciary. I think we are capable of protecting right of each sections of society.”
Dare I say that the time has come for you to protect the rights of us ordinary citizens of this country. You are our last hope!