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Reservation by vandalism

The recent events in Haryana have pained me immensely and have stirred my conscious greatly, so as to put down pen to paper and remind the citizens of this great nation about the principles on which our founding fathers had laid its foundation. Mahatma Gandhi had called off the Non-cooperation movement after the incident of arson reported at Chauri-Chaura in present day Gujarat in which 22 policeman had been burnt alive inside a police station by a mob of protestors. Mahatma Gandhi had taken this extreme step much against the advice of political pundits, who had termed it as ill timed because the movement had reached its crescendo and was having the desired effect on the British Raj. Our freedom struggle is replete with such incidents of self sacrifice and self discipline. Unfortunately, in present times, neither do we have such leaders nor do we have the confidence in ourselves that our aspirations can be met by non violent means. The reason for this conundrum is that in the past the State has miserably failed to bring the perpetrators of such mindless mayhem to justice. Take for instance, the incidents of violence and destruction unleashed by the Gurjars in Rajasthan and Haryana in 2008 demanding reservation as a Schedule Tribe. The State failed to prevent the mindless violence and destruction and its perpetrators were allowed to go escort free under political pressure. Going down the memory lane, a little further we find the shameful incidents of genocide of hundreds of Sikhs by rioters avenging the death of Mrs Indira Gandhi. The State again played the role of mute spectator and in fact, in some cases State actors actively instigated mobs to unleash terror. The families of victims are still waiting for the day when the perpetrators will be brought to justice. Until and unless, we take stringent deterrent and punitive action against the perpetrators of such mass violence and destruction, such incidents will be repeated in future. Secondly, the State should show resolve in not buckling in to the demands of such pressure groups, otherwise it will set a dangerous and unhealthy precedent for others to resort to such tactics for fulfillment of their aspirations. Lastly, coming to the emotive issue of reservation for weaker sections of society. The present policy of reservation based on caste/ creed/ religion/ linguistic/ regional parameters has proved counterproductive to the aim of upliftment of weaker sections of society. Instead, of bringing the weaker sections of society into the mainstream by their upliftment, it has resulted in dividing the society on the basis of caste/ creed/ religion/ linguistic/ regional basis. Moreover, reservation has failed to achieve better literacy rate and to alleviate poverty. Reservation has only served the powerful and mighty, who have flourished and continue to flourish on its basis. We must collectively strive to live by the ideals envisaged by founding fathers of our great nation, i.e. Non-violence and respect for the Constitution and not resort to mindless destruction and violence to achieve our aspiration. The Government should also endeavour to shed the policy of reservation and should adopt alternative means for upliftment of downtrodden and deprived class of society. Let us all sincerely hope that one day, merit and only merit will decide the fate of an individual and not his identity.

Compiled by Harkirat Ghuman (Advocate), Chandigarh.

The author of this Article is a practicing lawyer in Punjab and Haryana High Court Chandigarh.