Thursday, November 17, 2016

Vidisha riot controlled, curfew relaxed, peace returns: Lessons for Madhya Pradesh government from the violence

The rioting in Vidisha has been controlled.

Curfew has been relaxed and the situation is getting back to normalcy.

After arson, violence and hooliganism, peace has returned to the town.

But these pictures will haunt the administration and citizens for long.

A row escalated because the police didn't take prompt action, say citizens. Later, a person was killed due to the conflict.

The person belonged to Bajrang Dal. Those accused of murder were arrested.

The arrests were necessary and were made promptly. However, soon the Bajrang Dal cadre took to streets in the city, which sends none other than Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to Parliament.

From evening violence begins. People run with patients from hospital. There is arson. Vehicles, shops are set on fire. Houses were attacked. People were injured but fortunately no fatality.

Yet police remains mute spectator. The next day, violence escalates.

The rioters are on the streets.

But police turn askance, not even acting against them or even asking them to go away.

How can rioters get so emboldened?

Had the images not been splashed in local media and a strong police force not rushed to Vidisha, the situation may not have been controlled.

Vidisha was represented by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the past. MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan won election from here, repeatedly. It became his home constituency.

Hence, Vidisha has a special place in MP politics. Yet, the shoddy manner in which police acted, leaves many questions. Mercifully, the riot didn't spread and the violence stopped.

But has the police
and  the administration learnt anything from the riot?

The photographs published in local newspapers, questioning the role of police when the mob was on the streets, must lead to serious introspection. See caption in photo on the left.

It was published in local newspaper, which said that police turned away its face when rioters were on the streets. The picture was taken at Ramlila Road.

"If only police had been a little more stern, situation won't have worsened", caption reads.

The other photograph on the right shows rioters walking with the police.

After the suspensions of top officials in Betul and Jhabua, is the police reluctant to act against right-wing activists?

The State government's entire security establishment--Police Headquarters and Home department, need to send a strong message. If policemen are under pressure and scared of taking action, it is a potentially dangerous situation.

It's time to deal with it.