Why did Khattar Government fail to deal with the violence?
The so-called godman and the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been convicted of rape by CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana on 25th August 2017. This decision led to a complete law and order breakdown. The beautiful city of Panchkula saw Ram Rahim’s followers spread violence and it saw one of the biggest destruction of public properties by the mob in recent times. However, this is not the first time that Khattar government has failed to keep violence under control. They also failed to control violence during last year’s Jat protests. 36 deaths have been registered until now and hundreds of people are injured. Public properties have been turned into ashes. Properties worth crores have been destroyed. Whose fault was it? Why were police not able to control violence? Did Haryana police not learn anything from Jat riots? Here are some of the reasons Haryana police failed miserably in controlling violence.
Lack of preparation by Khattar Government:
The High Court of Haryana was very serious about this hearing and hence they wanted to take preventive measures from the start. The Court had ordered prohibitive orders on 22nd August. However, the court was not pleased when they saw lakhs of people gathered around the court on Friday. On asked, the government replied that the prohibitive orders issued on 22nd August had a clerical mistake and the new orders came on Thursday, by which the crowd had already gathered. The court was not at all happy and blamed the police officials as well as government officials that they had themselves invited the crowd and had the orders been taken seriously by the government, the situation would have been in control.
Underestimating the Dera followers:
The Haryana police seemed to have underestimated the Dera followers. According to some reports, the Dera followers had divided themselves into three groups. The first group was campaigning near Shimla-Zirakpur national highway, while the other group was roaming near Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Sector 3. The third group had gathered at Green Belt in Sector 5. As soon as the verdict of the court came out, the three mobs started their violent activities. The police, despite having Heavy ‘bandobast’, failed to control the destruction.
Could the judgment have been postponed or at least have changed the venue?
It can be argued that having seen such a huge crowd gathered and knowing that public security might be at stake, the Court could have delayed the judgement. The court could have taken a step back and either changed the venue or could have postponed the hearing. However, the followers of Rahim were aiming at the postponement of the decision. Yet, there was a high risk of public security and the court could have given a second thought of changing the venue. However, nothing happened and the court’s order just showed the failure of the Haryana police twice in two years. The police had second time in two years failed to rise to the occasion.
Often, during the violent conditions, the political leadership seems to have vanished. But what about the police leadership? Several police officers were seen to be fleeing from the spot when tear gassing was at its peak. Where were the senior police officials? Where were the young IPS officers? The police, irrespective of their ranks, are trained for such situations, but still, they were unable to rise on the occasion. The Haryana police officials in the morning said, “Everything is under control.” This has exposed the overconfidence of the Haryana officials. Their experience helped nothing during such critical condition. Also, the CM didn’t seem to ensure law and order.
Why Khattar Government didn’t learn anything from Jat protest:
Last year, Jat protests had led to violence in the state. During the Jat protests, the police were only onlookers to the burning vehicles and public properties. The police had literally given up. They had abandoned their posts. The officials lacked the sense of responsibility, which gave the protestors a field day. Several officials were suspended, who was turned scapegoat by the government and higher officials. Everyone thought the mistake had been resolved. However, they have proved wrong once again when the incidents of violence took place in Panchkula on Friday. Again, the officials were overconfident. They were abandoning their posts, they lacked the sense of responsibility. So, it can be safely inferred that the Haryana police and Khattar government had learned nothing from the last year’s Jat protests.
Questions to be asked to the Khattar government:
Why did the government allow the build-up of the Dera followers? Despite thousands of people gathering, the government didn’t take it seriously. The government had adequate time to take precautions, which they didn’t take. Having just been through from Jat protests, this was not expected. Why weren’t prohibitory orders not enforced to stop gathering of Dera followers? The orders were imposed, though late on 25th August, it was only against carrying weapons and not against the gathering of mobs. What did the government want to do here? It was their fault in assuming that the mobs would not turn violent if the decision was against Ram Rahim. Why did Khattar and his colleagues not negotiate with Dera? Dera openly admitted support for BJP and Khattar during 2014 assembly polls. This had helped BJP form a government. BJP ministers have been visiting Dera headquarters at Sirsa. But when the situations turned ugly and public property was being destroyed, why did Khattar and other BJP leaders not employ back-channel communications with Dera? Instead, they remained quiet and laid the complete responsibility on the police officials. It can be inferred that the BJP has been left red-faced after this. Yet, no inquiry has been set for missteps taken that took the situation out of control. Several big ministers, including CM of Punjab, blamed Khattar government for the violence. Punjab also turned violent but the government was ready for it and not a single person died.
What next for the Khattar Government?
CBI court took the decision and sentenced the accused Ram Rahim for ten years prison. Thousands of soldiers are now guarding the prison and the army is on standby. Now, as the CBI court took the decision and Ram Rahim sent to jail, we can expect the Dera followers to turn violent again. This time, we wish the government, as well as the police, will be well prepared for the worst of circumstances. Now that army has been called upon in the state, the Dera followers will think twice of the violent acts. Also, the security in Sirsa and Panchkula has been tightened, where 36 people lost their lives due to violence. This is the last chance for Khattar government if they want to have a chance of remaining at power.