Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Caste wars - Gujjars burn public property

Recently around 140 countries agreed to make October 2 as international day of non violence to respect Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy of non violence. In his own home country though, what we have witnessed last week was not only shameful shameful but also made a mockery of rule of law. Gujjars, who are some sort of caste and tribe in Rajasthan, went on massive protestation throughout the north India to demand them being categorized as Schedule Tribe (ST), so that they could get benefits of reservation in education and jobs meant for other lower castes listed as SC and ST. If we ignore violence which these men resorted to, I find it funny that there are people who so vehemently want to be categorized as lower caste tribe. Talk about upward mobility here! I am always perplexed by staggering number of castes and sub castes we have and how we keep sticking to them instead of making such archaic ideas redundant. I don’t know if Gujjars deserve to be listed as ST and given benefits of reservation or not, but what really stands out from the whole episode is the utmost disregard these men showed to public property and other citizens who had nothing to do with Gujjars getting into ST list. Crowds of these men went on rampage, blocking highways for days, burning, looting and destroying public property at will. Many of high valued machinery used for National Highway project in Rajasthan was destroyed and whole work on highway construction was brought to halt. What were these people trying to say? That they don't need highways and buses! Didn't they know that by doing all this they were only harming other innocent people caught in cross fire and this way they would have lost any goodwill they would have had! Even Capital Delhi was untouched by the violence. In one of the visuals shown on news, a dozen protestors were seen burning buses in full view of camera. After burning the bus, they unabashedly, stared at TV cameras and laughed and smiled as if they had just done a great act of bravery. Anybody who follows news regularly would see a pattern of behavior here. Group of people resort to violence mostly without any provocation, and in their minds protest is equated with burning and looting, and unless highways are blocked, trains are stopped and cities are brought to standstill, protest is not said to be effective. Then they openly peek into TV cameras and celebrate as if they are heroes. You don’t need to be expert to tell that such people who indulge in such activities understand nothing about what they are demanding and are mostly people who are bored in life. It is such a shame that nothing is done to punish these people. The rule of law can not be relaxed because a group of men, a caste felt that they were denied something legitimate and were angry with the system which they think is hijacked by another caste of Meenas. It is not an excuse to cause extensive damage to public property and cause nuisance and inconvenience to others. There are other means of protests and raising your demand, burning building and buses are not any of them. I think, it is high time that an example is set and police should catch all those who were captured in TV burning buses and blocking highways and persecute them. Come on, people, you are not fighting some foreign regime here.

How stupid it all sounds. Gujjars were demanding listing in ST category and Meenas (another one of 10 million castes) who are already in ST bracket started opposing it fearing that thier benefits from reservation would be diluted if Gujjars were also to be listed as ST and we almost had a caste war between Gujjars and Meenas. What will be next! Would it start a race where someone would be trying to prove that they are more backward than the others and others would fight back saying that only they are backward! So utterly ridiculous. A social problem, instead of being socially mended has been hijacked by politicians and lines of divisions are being further accentuated. May be it is not right to blame just the politicians alone as the fact is that we don’t have leaders in this country anymore, we just have men who are doing business of politics, otherwise so called leaders of Gujjars would have known that they can only lead their community into next century by making it aware of education and opportunities beyond few government jobs which they want to get through reservations. But regardless, all those who indulged in senseless violence and destroyed public property should be caught and put in jails.

1 comment:

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