Sir — The United Kingdom telecom regulator, Ofcom, has found that British children, influenced by Greta Thunberg, have used social media for activism far more in 2019 than they did in 2018. Many have criticized parents and teachers for pushing children to the forefront of their own agenda, but one must remember that Thunberg is part of a rich legacy of child activists like Malala Yousafzai and Ruby Bridges. Whether it is civil rights, education or labour, children have often taken proactive roles in protests and brought about change. Perhaps the movement against climate change too is in dire need of young voices to succeed.
Sir — M.K. Gandhi was assassinated by an indoctrinated fanatic on January 30, 1948 and, ironically, the very same day 72 years later was marked by another zealot shooting at a gathering of students from Jamia Millia Islamia peacefully protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, injuring one student in the presence of cops (“Minister rally: ‘Goli maro’. Youth does”, Jan 31). This act could have easily killed a protester or a passerby. The country had witnessed the insidious power of provocative speeches when a series of lynchings took place in the name of cow protection following incendiary remarks made by political leaders. This incident, too, was preceded by similar speeches by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders such the Union minister, Anurag Thakur, and the parliamentarian, Parvesh Verma.
The aim of vitriolic speeches is to spread hysteria and hatred in society, thus instigating people to take law and order in their own hands. In such situations, it is the lives of ordinary people that are at stake.
Sir — The shooting by a self-proclaimed Ram devotee during a peaceful march by Jamia Millia Islamia students two days after a Union minister urged a rally to chant ‘shoot the traitors’ is proof that law and order have almost ceased to exist in the country under the current regime. The shooting was horrifying on its own; making matters worse was the fact that several policemen stood by and watched the violent display. The Constitution guarantees citizens the right to protest peacefully, but the government has shown that it is worse than the colonial rulers when it comes to such matters. It seems that the people of India have been betrayed by the party they voted to power. If political leaders endorse killing in the name of patriotism, then dark days are ahead.
Asit Kumar Mitra,
Sir — One can raise serious questions about the credibility and neutrality of the Delhi Police — which is under the jurisdiction of the Central government — in the light of their recent actions. Whether it was the vandalism at Jamia Millia Islamia, the attack on students at Jawaharlal Nehru University or the recent shooting at a peaceful gathering of students, the Delhi Police, which is entrusted with the task of maintaining law and order, have either stood by and done nothing when they should have been taking action, or have committed questionable acts. By blindly following orders from their political masters, the force seems to have become a puppet of the home ministry.
The Delhi Police were quick to lodge a first information report against the president of the JNU students’ union, but are yet to arrest the perpetrators who led the attack on January 5. Similarly, they swiftly arrested Sharjeel Imam on charges of sedition while the shooter, who identifies as “Rambhakt Gopal”, was charged with only attempted murder. These inconsistencies expose the Delhi Police’s double standards and lack of integrity. Greater autonomy — either through shared jurisdiction between the Centre and the Delhi government, or a complete shift of control to the latter — could be a possible way of resolving the problem.
Sir — The attack on a peaceful march against the CAA and a similar incident at Shaheen Bagh just two days later have brought to light the brutal after-effects of the hate speeches made by BJP leaders. It is easy to draw parallels with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi 72 years ago.
The audacity displayed by the shooters at both venues, in flagrant disregard of police presence, bears testimony to the decay that has taken place in our society as a result of the constant peddling of hate. Such criminal acts are dangerous for social harmony. The foundational values of our Constitution are at stake and, at this crucial moment, it is essential to raise rational voices and save the nation from the clutches of religious intolerance.
Sir — It is ironic that politicians like Pragya Singh Thakur, who has openly venerated Nathuram Godse, are pontificating on nationalism and patriotism. The shooting at a student march by a self-styled “messiah for Hindus” can only be seen as a direct result of the provocative speeches by a range of BJP leaders (“Shooter claims role of ‘Hindu messiah’”, Jan 31). It speaks volumes about the law and order situation in the country under the Narendra Modi government.
Change the view
Sir — The city’s police force is all set to induct the Belgian Malinois, the breed that helped track Osama bin Laden, into its dog squad. It is unfortunate that more attention is not paid to inducting Indies, who are best suited to the Indian climate. They are also highly intelligent and incredibly agile and resilient.