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UP demolitions taught lesson to those trying to enforce views in the name of freedom


By NS Venkataraman*
A few days back, the Government of Uttar Pradesh , a major province in India, bulldozed and demolished the residences of those who participated in a violent protest in Prayagraj region of Uttar Pradesh. The demolition act was carried out by the Uttar Pradesh Government under the National Security Act 1980 and the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti Social Activities (Prevention) Act 1986.
After the demolition, six former judges of the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts and six senior advocates appealed to the Supreme Court to intervene in the matter, terming the act of the Uttar Pradesh government as unacceptable and subversion of the rule of law.
Taking a holistic view of the entire matter and considering the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and further taking note that nobody should take law into their own hands and indulge in violence whatever may be the cause, it appears that the decision of the Uttar Pradesh government to demolish the residents of the rioters is appropriate and much needed. Of course, the Uttar Pradesh government has said that the buildings that were demolished are unauthorized buildings.
As is known, there are different forms of governance such as dictatorship, communism (sort of dictatorship by a coterie of party leaders), feudal system and electoral democracy. While democracy often tends to become noisy governance, in the case of the other forms of governance, there is generally grim silence of “peace”.
Whereas the democratic countries give an impression that it is chaotic form of governance, in the case of other systems , they appear to be “orderly governance”, though the liberty of the people are often severely suppressed.
Nevertheless, looking from different angles, the consensus view amongst the experts is that the democracy is the best form of governance, which highlights and respects the aspirations of the human spirit, which is liberty and freedom.
However, in practice, in democratic countries, it often happens that in the name of freedom, the people with different views and to enforce their views, sometimes take the law into their own hands and in the process, cause violence and bloodshed.
We saw this happening in USA , when President Donald Trump caused violent protests in Capitol Hill in the USA when he lost the Presidential election. Similar disturbing conditions have been seen in other democratic countries also.
The question is how should the democratic government deal with such violent situations caused by one section of the people or the other? Should the government put down such violent acts with the force at its command or submit to the violent protestors by simply remaining as observer?
The fact is that the government has a responsibility to maintain law and order at any cost and it cannot remain indifferent to the violent ground situation.
When there are violent protests, the democratic governments often have to disperse the protesters by beating them with sticks or using teargas on the protesters or even shooting to kill the protesters. Such methods are used by the government not only to stop the violent acts by the protesters but also to deter them from indulging in such violent acts in future.
By and large, such manner of dealing with the violent demonstrations are approved by the common men (silent majority), showing understanding of the inevitability of adopting such methods, particularly considering the gravity of violent situation and the need for the government to protect the interests of general public and public property.
Of course, the protesters and their sympathisers could call such acts as unacceptable in a democratic society, whose views have no takers amongst the general public.
When such violent protest takes place by a group of people, inevitably there are some kingpins who instigate the people to indulge in such violent acts and they too need to be taken to task and made to behave.
Such kingpins may be there amongst the protesting mob or stay at remote places issuing commands . The government can easily trace them. When they are traced and the government knows for sure that they are the instigators, one simple way of punishing them is to demolish their buildings and deter them from indulging in instigating violence in future and making it clear to them that they cannot go scot free exploiting the loopholes in the law.
When there is violent agitation on the streets, the government cannot rush to the judiciary , asking for permission to disperse the mob by beating them with sticks etc.
Similarly, the government cannot wait to get the permission of the judiciary to demolish the buildings of instigators of violence, since such punishment for the instigators become an immediate necessity in the wake of the violent agitations and to prevent them from further instigating the mob violence.
Demolishing the buildings belonging to instigators is justified since they destroy public property by instigating mob violence. It is a case of tit for tat and only way of teaching a lesson or two to the instigators.
Punishing the instigators of violence immediately is certainly a necessary strategy that would put the fear of law in their mindset and protect the rule of law.
---
Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai

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