Congress, INLD up the ante as Khattar government stands exposed again
The relentless deterioration of law and order in Haryana has led to the opposition Congress, and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) firing fresh salvos at the Manohar Lal Khattar-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state. While state Congress president Ashok Tanwar has written an open letter to the people of the state, the INLD through its women's wing, has sought the dismissal of the Khattar government.
With rapes in the state being reported at an average of one every day, the state government once again stood exposed last week, when members of the Karni Sena resorted to violence in protest against the release of Bollywood film Padmaavat. The situation grabbed national headlines after an alleged attack by the Karni Sena on a school bus carrying children home in Gurugram.
Prior to this, the government had proved to be ineffective in containing outbursts of violence one multiple occasions. Followers of Godman Ram Pal, Jats agitating for reservation, and upset supporters of the jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh have all managed to throw the state into chaos during Khattar's reign.
The Congress attack
Tanwar's letter is also being seen as stepping up the offensive in the ongoing political turf war within the Congress, taking on his rival – former chief minister Bhupender Singh Hooda. The various Congress factions in Haryana are currently involved in a race to outdo each other in terms of establishing a public connect one year ahead of the Lok Sabha and subsequent state assembly polls.
The Congress smells a strong chance of doing well in the state that has seen the Khattar unravel itself as a failure in maintaining law and order year after year. Tanwar got a boost recently when the Congress president Rahul Gandhi underlined that there is no move to change the state Congress heads, something that the Hooda supporters have been seeking for long.
In his letter, Tanwar called into question the Khattar government's ability to control law and order. “The continuing atrocities on women has put a big question mark on the efficiency of the police and administration in the state. A rape and a murder being reported every hour and ten heart rending assaults on the women in the last 10 says simply show the failure of the government. Even the chief minister's village has not been spared. It appears that the law and order machinery has collapsed, there is no fear of law, criminals are roaming free and there are no whereabouts of the fast track courts,” Tanwar stated.
He has pointed to the inefficiency of the government in curtailing violence over and over again, be it the Jat reservation stir, or the mayhem unleashed by the followers of Ram Rahim Singh in Panchkula in August, last year, or this most recent violence by the Karni Sena. “The police has been unable to act even in instances where there is prior information available of the impending violence. What more can be a bigger failure ?” Tanwar questioned.
His letter states, “The slogan of Khattar government is 'Jagmag Haryana', but it has pushed the state towards darkness. Another slogan is 'Happening Haryana', but the 'mishappenings in Haryana' have put the state to shame across the world. The government has given the slogan of 'Beti Bachao' but the conditions that have been created have forced the people to actually worry for their daughters. Instead of development people are now referring to the government for development of crime.”
Continuing his attack, Tanwar says that the state government had promised a series of initiatives for the safety of women like installing closed circuit television cameras outside schools and colleges, increased patrolling by women police, and giving self-defense training to girls, but none of these are visible on the grounds.
He even used the occasion to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pointing out that the prime minister, who is known for responding to every small little thing, has not opened his mouth on the issue of women safety in Haryana. The letter also makes a passing reference to the increasing plight of the farmers, growing unemployment among the youth, insecurity among the masses and the thriving health mafia.
He has posed the question before the people, asking, “In the prevailing times of chaos I want to ask the people whether this government has the right to be in office even for a minute.”
He has further stated, “If the chief minister has some pain for the women, the brotherhood among the '36 Biradri' (36 communities residing in the state) and he has some humanity and morality left in him, he should step down in the interest of the state and its people.”
He has promised to fight for the people and throw out the Khattar government in the next assembly polls, which will be held a few months after the Lok Sabha elections next year.
Meanwhile, the women's cell of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), under Dabwali MLA Naina Chautala and president Sheela Bhyan, too gave a memorandum to state Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, seeking dismissal of the Khattar-led BJP government.
The memorandum pointed out that when, in December 2012, the nation experienced the horror of the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder in Delhi, the lawmakers of the country were roused enough to redraft the laws to make punishment for such crimes more stringent. But it appears that Haryana is one state where they have not proved to be a deterrent since Nirbhaya-like rapes and murders are fast becoming a norm.
The memorandum cited statistics which show that, according to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), 28,369 cases of sexual harassment were registered during 2014 to 2016. In 2016, the number of rape cases rose to 1,189, thereby shamefully putting Haryana at number four in the country. In a new low, last year, 3,641 women went missing and 10,862 complaints of sexual harassment were filed.
Reiterating the accusation of the rising trend in crimes against women, the memorandum pointed out that, according to NCRB statistics, till November 2017, 769 rapes and 98 attempt to rape cases had been recorded.
A dismal state of affairs
During the current month of 2018, the state has been rocked by a spate of rapes, gang-rapes and brutal murders after the heinous crimes. In a single week, Panipat witnessed the rape and murder of four girls.
In Kurukshetra, a 15-year-old was raped and murdered. Soon thereafter, an 11-year-old Dalit girl of Panipat district was found murdered, raped and mutilated. In Samalakha, two sisters were abducted and raped. Faridabad and Gurugram both witnessed rapes in a moving cars, and in the Gurugram case, such a crime was committed after the husband and brother-in-law of the victim were held hostage.
Besides seeking the Khattar government's dismissal, Naina Chautala has launched a ‘Hari Chunari Ki Chaupal’ campaign, to rally women for creating awareness regarding issues that vitally affect their dignity, life and safety.