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Posts Tagged ‘Sunderlal Patwa

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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Though there is no word from the Congress High Command as yet, the buzz in Madhya Pradesh is that Jyotiraditya Scindia will be the party’s face in next year’s Assembly elections. Member of Lok Sabha from Guna constituency, Scindia has increased his visits to the State. In the aftermath of the police firing on farmers in Mandsaur district in early June, Scindia held a three-day Satyagraha in Bhopal. Most of the State party leaders, including AICC General Secretary and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh, attended it. Later Scindia held a one-day demonstration at Khalghat in Khargone district on the farmers’ issue. Veteran Congress leader Kamal Nath, who did not come to Bhopal, attended it there. Scindia has since held several programmes in the State to highlight the travails of the people in the BJP government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, with main emphasis on the plight of the farmers in the State.

Appearances apart, the disquiet among Congress chieftains of the State at the emergence of Scindia as the possible chief ministerial candidate is much too palpable. Some time back, Kamal Nath had started attacking the Chouhan government with unusual regularity following media reports that he was soon going to be named as the PCC chief in place of Arun Yadav and was going to be the chief ministerial candidate. After Scindia’s name started doing the rounds, Kamal Nath’s belligerency has waned. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ajay Singh is not seen in the current (monsoon) session of the Assembly in the same ebullient form which he displayed the last time as the Leader of Opposition. He was himself aspiring to lead the party in the elections.

Digvijaya Singh is a case apart. Once he had seen in Ajay Singh the next Chief Minister. At another time at a party function at Chhindwara, he had favoured Kamal Nath. Chhindwara is Kamal Nath’s Lok Sabha constituency. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that he does not like Scindia, nor, for that matter, did he like Scindia’s father, late Madhavrao Scindia. In fact, the only Scindia he liked was Madhavrao’s late mother Vijayaraje Scindia. Vijayaraje, one of the seniormost BJP leaders, fully reciprocated Digvijaya Singh’s sentiments and often praised the Congress leader publicly, to utter chagrin of the late BJP leader Sunderlal Patwa.

At the farmers’ rally organised by Jyotiraditya in Lahar in Bhind district early this month, Digvijaya Singh left the party workers aghast when towards the close of his speech, he looked at Scindia and said: ‘go and fight BJP and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, NOT ME.’

Digvijaya Singh has reiterated that he is not interested in Madhya Pradesh politics. He will now undertake spiritual parikrama of river Narmada from October 1. It may take several months to go round the river on foot.

Interestingly, Rubina Sharma Singh, wife of Digvijaya Singh’s younger brother Lakshman Singh, has pleaded for Scindia. In a Facebook post she says: ‘Jyotiraditya Scindia is making a great effort to resurrect the Congress Party here in Madhya Pradesh. Now, the rest of the Party leaders need to genuinely support him and stop this ego tussle they have with him.’ A similar appeal was made by Digvijaya Singh’s son Jaivardhan Singh (who is Congress MLA) at Scindia’s Bhopal Satyagraha in early June.

The BJP leaders, too, have concentrated their attacks on Scindia. To which level they can go to malign Scindia is shown by an incident. A trauma centre was to be inaugurated by Scindia in Ashoknagar in his Lok Sabha constituency where local BJP MLA Gopinath Jatav, a Dalit, was also invited. Jatav, however, pre-empted it and inaugurated it a day earlier. Congress leader and Scindia’s representative Amit Tavre promptly issued a statement that the trauma centre had been contaminated by the touch of a Dalit and would be washed with gangajal. The Congress leaders were stunned by this unauthorised statement. District Congress Committee president Gajram Singh Yadav promptly expelled Tavre from the party for six years. Scindia removed him from the responsibilities of his representative.

BJP leaders denounced Scindia’s feudal attitude and his prejudice against Dalits. On a directive from State BJP president Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan, the BJP workers burnt effigies of Scindia at district headquarters all over the State on July 24.  


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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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