Shame of Mumbai

. 10/30/08

The lynching of a laborer from UP and the earlier shooting of a Bihari youth are highly disturbing signs of the shocking deterioration that has taken place in Mumbai’s law and order situation. Although the gun-wielding Bihari young man had hijacked a bus, questions will remain whether it was unavoidable for the police to gun him down. After all, he was a distraught amateur, and a well-trained force should not have had much difficulty in disarming him.

However, the unqualified support given to the police by the state’s home minister, R R Patil, can explain why the officers and men showed no inclination to be patient. Patil’s observation that the same treatment would be meted out to anyone taking the law in his own hands would have sounded more convincing if the police had been equally proactive in dealing with Raj Thackeray’s and his terrorists.

It has also to be noted that the Mumbai police no longer enjoys its earlier reputation for professionalism. Its conduct during the anti Muslims riots in 1992-93 undermined its non-partisan image.

When the police seem so trigger-happy, it is not impossible that the terrorists who beat the UP laborer to death took their cue from the 'guardians’ of law and order. But if the police and the anti-social elements have brought disgrace to a city once known for its cosmopolitanism and civilized ambience, the fault lies with the myopic politicians who evidently do not seem to mind playing with the lives of innocent people with their cynical games.

While the terrorism of the Shiv Sena and the MNS is known, what is deplorable is that even all-India parties like the Congress have not been able to escape the virus of sub-nationalism.

The way, in which the conditions are going from bad to worse, the Vilasrao Deshmukh government must take most of the blame. Had it shown the slightest willingness to crack down on the MNS terrorists, the situation would not have deteriorated to this extent. But not only has it had to be pushed by the Centre and public pressure to act, its ministers like Narayan Rane and Chhagan Bhujbal have been virtually echoing Raj Thackeray’s parochial line with its minatory message. As is known, the Congress played the same game to prop up Bal Thackeray in the Sixties to undercut the communists.

Now, it is said to be boosting the nephew to hit at the uncle. But the losers are the hapless victims of the resultant violence.

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