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Posts Tagged ‘Lal Krishna Advani

The Chandigarh stalking incident has once again focussed attention on the working of the police which is still governed by a law enacted by the British more than 156 years ago. The daring of the victim and her family background (her father being an IAS officer) have made the incident a talking point all over the country, forcing the police to give up their intention to dismiss it as a minor incident.
The 29-year-old woman was going in her car when two persons in a car blocked her way, banged on her windows and even tried to force the door open. Finally, a police patrol team came, responding to her SOS. She duly lodged a complaint of attempt to abduct her with the criminal intention. One of the accused happened to be Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP president’s son.
As the son of a high profile ruling party leader was involved, the police diluted the charges with the result that Barala and his friend were granted bail within hours whereas the attempt to abduct is a more serious crime. The police also said that the CCTV cameras on the route were not functioning. That was till the victim, Varnika Kundu, created a ruckus. Following this, the police promptly ‘retrieved’ the CCTV cameras and even confirmed Varnika’s version of the incident.
Talks of reforming the police and making the force accountable to the society have been going on at various levels for decades but no one has made an honest attempt in this respect. The British rulers had enacted the Police Act of 1861 after the mutiny of 1857 to establish a police force which could be used to consolidate and perpetuate their rule in this country, by terrorising, oppressing and suppressing the natives if necessary. The tragedy was that the British, when they left the country, handed over the power not to the people of this country but to a bunch of politicians who soon saw the advantage of keeping the British-constituted police force intact for their own use. Little wonder that the Police Act of 1861 must be the only one, out of thousands of acts inherited by us from the colonial regime, which has not been amended even once so far.
The Congress was in power at the Centre and in the States most of the time after independence. That may be the reason why the Congress leaders scarcely felt the need for changing the Police Act. Opposition leaders occasionally raised their voice against the continuation of the Act, Ram Manohar Lohia being the most vocal of them. But the voice of the Opposition was much too feeble to make the ruling party to take notice.
In the 1980s, BJP president Lal Krishna Advani scarcely opened his mouth without demanding repeal or amendment of the Police Act of 1861. When he became Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government, this hypocrite not only did not remember his oft-repeated demand but used the police force like the British had used it. Of all the persons, even Congress Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijaya Singh had started harping on the need to change the Police Act of 1861, but only when he had foreseen the rout of Congress at the close of his second term. He had himself used the police arbitrarily against his opponents. Narration of macabre rape of a hapless tribal woman or a grisly murder of a poor farmer never appeared to affect Digvijaya Singh who continued to smile or indulge in frolics, as those attending the Assembly sessions had observed all those years. Criticism of the working of the police had, however, been a different matter. The former raja of Raghogarh would promptly be on his feet urging the Speaker to expunge the remarks against the police. The chemistry of his complexion would change as he tried to defend the police.
The BJP’s Sunderlal Patwa made the same nefarious use of the police as his Congressi successor did later. Four persons were arrested by the Indore police for possessing heroin in 1991. The case against them was registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPSA), which makes the offence non-bailable. As it came to be known that one of the arrested persons was Ehsan, younger brother of Patwa’s smuggler-friend Mohd Shafi, the police tore ten pages of the Roznamcha and made fresh entries about the case in order to enable the four criminals to get bail. Patwa, instead of booking the police officers under Section 204 IPC, patted them on the back.

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The BJP swept the February-March, 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The instant reaction of BSP supremo Mayawati to her party’s miserable performance  in Uttar Pradesh was that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were manipulated. Soon the Samajwadi Party and AAP leaders joined Mayawati’s outcry. Even some Congress leaders in Uttarakhand also started talking about EVM manipulation. Meanwhile, a discussion on the fragmentation of non-BJP votes in Uttar Pradesh had also started (the BJP got so many seats with a vote share of less than 40 per cent while the combined vote share of BSP and SP was over 44 per cent plus six per cent of the Congress share).

The subject of EVM manipulation has been cropping up almost from the time EVMs were introduced.  A sort of campaign on this issue was launched by then Madhya Pradesh Congress President Suresh Pachouri after the 2008 Assembly elections which had returned BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan for the second term. A distraught Pachouri had threatened to expose EVM manipulations with the help of his “friends in the UK and the US”.

Before Pachouri could carry out his threat, Lal Krishna Advani jumped in the fray after the BJP lost the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and his dream of becoming the Prime Minister was shattered. He demanded discontinuation of EVMs and going back to the printed ballot papers. Advani’s demand was supported by the leaders of various parties like the AIADMK, CPI (M), Janata Dal (S) and the Lok Janshakti Party. Advani had the support of a bureaucrat also. Former Delhi chief secretary Omesh Saigal had surfaced to claim that he knew a secret code in the EVM, through which the machine could be programmed to transfer every fifth vote to a particular candidate. Petitions were filed in courts on the fallibility of EVMs, one of the most vocal petitioners being BJP’s Kirit Somaiya.

There was so much noise in the country that the Election Commission felt it had to do something. In August 2009, the Commission randomly obtained 100 EVMs from 10 States (Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh). The Commission invited political leaders, petitioners and other critics of EVMs and also made the media announcement that the EVMs would be kept in the Commission office for a specified period and anyone could come and show how these machines could be manipulated. No one did. The EVM bogey, though, has one merit. It keeps occupied the politicians who have been defeated in the elections and have nothing else to do at the moment.

 


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“Behind every great fortune there is a crime”, originally attributed to 19th-century French writer Honoré de Balzac.

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