Police crackdown on Ramdev’s Protest

What was being feared has finally happened. After the breakdown of talks between Ramdev and the Govt, a 5000 strong police force was sent to the historic Ramlila ground to  end the peaceful protest by brute force. First, the Govt cancelled the permission granted to Ramdev to use Ramlila Maidan on flimsy security grounds and then swiftly moved in police force to forcibly evict Ramdev and his 20,000 odd supporters when they were sleeping.

The entire police action was telecast live on all news channels and those who were awake like me watched with shock and disbelief the terrible images of peaceful protesters including women and elderly being brutally dragged out and beaten. This was indeed yet another Black Day in the history of Independent India.

Brutal police action on peaceful protestors was a cruel reminder of the British Raj and Emergency days. It was in this very Ramlila Ground on the 25th June 1975 when Jai Prakash Narain along with all prominent opposition leaders addressed a mammoth rally which prompted Indira Gandhi to impose Emergency on the same day at midnight and arrest JP and all other opposition leaders.

Much in the same way as JP’s rally, 36 years after that ill fated day, in the same month of June, Ramlila ground was once again packed to capacity sending shivers down Government’s spine and much in the same way the Government panicked and resorted to use of brute force to curb a totally peaceful protest. What’s the difference between a democratic India and other Banana Republics. How can the Government justify terming a peaceful protest as a threat to security and use that as an excuse to crackdown on peaceful protesters. Has Manmohan Singh stooped to the level of Mohammad Gaddafi to see a security threat in a peaceful protest?

The reaction of the English media, as usual has been pathetic. While condemning the police action for the sake of it, they don’t seem to have much problem with what has happened. But we shouldn’t forget, there were some people who didn’t have much problem even with Emergency. Vinoba Bhave had termed Emergency as an “Anushasan Parva” (Festival of Discipline). Khushwant Singh, who represented the elite English media at that time, was also a big supporter of the Emergency.

In a matter of just two days, the UPA Government has swiveled from one extreme of sending four senior ministers to the airport to receive the Baba, to another of arresting him at midnight. It is hard to believe that a Government headed by sensible and seasoned politicians like Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram can be so foolhardy. There is definitely more to it than what meets the eye. My take is that the Government was just blindly following the directives coming from 10 Janpath and its coterie. With an eye on the approaching polls in UP and the desperate need to establish Rahul Gandhi’s credentials, 10 Janpath directed the UPA Govt to stop Ramdev’s protest AT ANY COST. So severe was the directive that the Govt panicked from day one and sent four senior ministers including the so called No. 2, Pranab Mukherjee to the airport to engage with Ramdev with the idea of nipping the protest in bud. Later when the media termed this move to the Govt falling on the feet on Ramdev, 10 Janpath cracked its whip again and even such a senior and respected person like Pranab Mukherjee had to literally apologize and accept the blame. Irritated by this faux pas, 10 Janpath asked the Govt to do everything to not just thwart Ramdev’s protest but also appear to be strong and firm. Now also confirmed by Subramanian Swamy through Tweeter –  “@Swamy39: Sonia gave a direct order to PC to show this “half naked mendicant” what she is. This was at 10.20 pm yesterday. Coup d Etat!! “.

Another angle was the murmuring in the Anna Hazare camp against Government’s non-cooperation and the possibility of a protest by them as well. It is worth mentioning that the next meeting of the Lok Pal Drafting Committee is scheduled for tomorrow i.e. 6th June 2011 when Anna Hazare camp is expected to take a final call on walking out from the committee and taking to the streets again. Last night police action on Ramdev is also aimed at sending a strong signal to Anna Hazare camp that the Govt is in no mood to allow the so called civil society to embarrass it.

However, like her Mother-in-Law, Sonia Gandhi seems to be getting all the wrong advice on critical matters like this. India has seen so many oppressive rulers that the public and its leaders cannot be intimidated by police action like what we saw last night. Baba Ramdev is a wounded tiger now and as soon as he is released by the Police, he will strike back with full force. The Govt should be under no illusion about his popularity and its own unpopularity. Evicting Ramdev out of Delhi does not kill the protest, especially in today’s era.  He will most likely resume his protest at Hardwar where the Delhi Police is expected to release him by today afternoon. If my reading is right, he is still on fast. His followers in Delhi are not too far away as Haridwar is just 4-5 hours drive from Delhi. With BJP Govt in Uttarakhand, there is no police threat to Baba Ramdev in Haridwar. Thanks to the live telecast technology and tens of news channels hungry for sensational news, we will soon see Ramdev being beamed into every household of India. From the point of view of the UPA Government, it would not make any difference whether Ramdev is fasting at Ramlila ground in Delhi or his own Ashram in Haridwar. If anything, it will make it that much more difficult for the Govt to deal with him firstly due to the bitterness generated by the police action and secondly due to the 180 Km distance between Delhi and Haridwar.

Borrowing the famous dialogue – “Picture abhi bakhi hai mere dost..” (“The movie is not yet over, my friend….”)

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  • sagar pilare  On June 5, 2011 at 6:52 am

    What other option did the Government have when Baba was raising unreasonable demads and inciting his followers to come to Delhi in large numbers? The law and order situation would have gone out of hands. The government had to intervene in time before the followers of this stuntman took the law into their hands. If there occurred any police excesses, the same must be enquired into and action taken against the guilty cops. Howerver, the action of dispersing crowd gathered by Baba is fully justified.

    • Ramesh  On June 7, 2011 at 8:52 pm

      @SagarPilare oh Sonia ke Chamche if your mother or your sister had been hurt will you still say so?

  • gaurav aggarwal  On June 6, 2011 at 3:45 am

    @Sagar Pilare ji – with all the regards, if you go 100 years back, similar crowds were being gathered by Mahatma Gandhi.. and were being suppressed by Force like this… if intellectuals like us would have termed it WRONG that time, you would not have been able to express your thoughts so independently today sir !!

  • Biddyuth Chandra Paul  On June 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    The ruling government itself has created consequence of LAW & ORDER SITUATION in Delhi by attacking committed people in the midnight. Even they forgot to distinguish our mothers and sisters, children and old-aged in night in a democratic country like India? They are public made government- for the public and not for themselves. The act, conduct, mankind of Congress Party is equivalent to earlier British Rulers. It is evident from the decision what the party did take after the election in 2004 TO SWEAR THE THRONE OF PRIME MINISTERSHIP on the head of SONIA GANDHI, THE ITALIAN BONAFIDE. We Indians, must commit ourselves to be free from the hands of such administrator. Baba Ramdev claimed money certainly would develop our economy as a whole and to every citizen in particular. It can’t be shaded from saying that still; thousands of our countrymen are slept with empty stomach.

    B. C. Paul………..

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