Is a BJP Legislator, In a BJP ruled state, above the Law ?
The eminent Philosopher Plato had said “Good People don’t need laws to tell them to act responsibly and bad people will find a way around the laws.” This is perfectly pertinent in the case of a BJP MLA from Rajasthan, Kanwar Lal Meena who is successfully evading the course of law even after 2 months of his brutal attack on the members of civil society team in Aklera town of Rajasthan. This is in no way possible except the express complicity of the State and hamstringing of its agency like Police in giving him a free hand and of course a green signal for committing such barbaric acts in future as well. This is also a paragon example of the ‘Rule of Law’ being substituted with the ‘Rule of Might’ and how the ‘State Power’ is erroneously utilized in crushing the quintessential spirit of democracy.
For those who are still oblivious of the complete background of the story are entitled to have their facts cleared that a 100 days accountability campaign was organized under the banner of ‘Suchna Evam Rozgaar Adhikaar Abhiyaan” and MKSS in Rajasthan. It commenced on December 1 under an active support and the leadership of Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey, the two well-known social activist associated with grassroots organization named MKSS, based in a small village of Rajasthan named Devdungari which lacks in all basic facilities. This organization in the leadership of these duo stalwarts and other spirited team mates has done everything to keep the democracy alive and by taking it to the last door of subalterns of the society. They, with the help of a constant engagement with the local people successfully generated a national clamour for ‘RTI Law’ which culminated in having one of the most powerful peoples’ friendly legislations, the Indian Parliament has ever enacted. This organization and these public spirited stalwarts have not only been an instrumental force behind the enactment of RTI rather they have also played a paramount role in the enactment of the important Laws like ‘MGNREGA’ and ‘Whistle Blower Protection Act’ among others.
The enactment of all these aforesaid Peoples’ friendly legislations are the outcome of MKSS’s constant interaction with the people and their subsequent support in the cause. Aruna Roy, a Magsaysay awardee says “These all are peoples’ laws because it is only because of their support and participation in the process that the enactment of such laws has been made possible.” Nikhil Dey, another social stalwart says “If any change is to come then it has to come from within, it has to come from, Us- The People”. So, the crux is that their constant interaction and engagement with the people and their efforts to encourage them to participate in the democratic process is the sole reason behind the enactment of the aforesaid splendid legislations the Indian democracy has been able to give to itself.
In the light of the above facts, now I need to revisit the nucleus of the story. This 100 days accountability Campaign was organized with the similar purpose of engaging with the people to encourage them to demand a strong accountability law in the state of Rajasthan which can make the officials accountable towards people and curb cancerous officialdom prevalent in the government offices. There are millions of small grievances of the people occurring on the daily basis related to ration, pension, electricity bill etc. for which they have to unnecessarily loiter around the government’s offices and most of the corrupt officials exploit them in the process to their maximum extent. This campaign which was named as ‘100 Diwasiya Jawabdehi Yatra’ had to cover all the 33 districts of Rajasthan.
However, as soon as this ‘Yatra Team’ reached Aklera town under Manoharthana Police station in district Jhalawar and the team members started interacting with the people, a riotous mob consisting of around 40 people led by a local BJP MLA Kanwar Lal Meena attacked the peaceful campaigners leaving 12 members of the group fatally injured out of 63 and rest of them sustaining serious injuries. This included few women members of the team as well. The MLA himself was leading the mob and he personally attacked few women members of the team. He slapped Radhika Ganesh, a woman member of the team on her right-jaw and hit hardly on her back with a baton leaving her seriously injured. Two other women Poorvi and Amita were hit on their back and leg respectively by the MLA himself leaving them fatally injured. A costly camera of an independent documentary filmmaker Anurag was snatched and vandalized by the rowdy crowd. They also vandalized the two Jeeps of the team. The senior member of the team Shankar Ji who appeared the last season of ‘Satyamev Jayate’ was also severely beaten by the crowd and the MLA.
This all happened in the presence of the Police on the spot. When one member of the team Anurag tried to take shelter in the Police Jeep, a constable pushed him out and locked the Jeep’s gate asking ‘MLA Sir himself is beating you, we can’t save you.’ Consequently an FIR was lodged against 30-35 unknown assailants and later against the MLA as well. This horrendous incident occurred on 16th of January and till today the MLA is absconding the course of law and has not been arrested. An RTI response says that there are 20 cases registered against the MLA for rioting, unlawful assembly, and causing damage to property, though charge sheet has been filed only in seven cases. Aruna Roy, a former member of the ‘National Advisory Council’ chaired by Sonia Gandhi, immediately wrote to Vasundhara Raje, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan for appointment to take up the matter with her but she has not bothered to respond to her request. Such is the arrogance of power that an internationally acclaimed Indian doyenne activist’s request for appointment is not responded by the Chief Minister in such a brazen case of her MLA being involved in attacking the peaceful campaigners. Does it not give an indication that the Supreme authority of the State is backing the MLA’s actions? Does it not suggest that the State is encouraging one of its lawmakers to become a lawbreaker? Does it not candidly depict the existence of ‘Statelessness’ and vanility in the State? Is the State not trying to make feel the citizenry that the ‘Rule of Law’ is a utopian principle confined to the Constitutional books? 150 eminent people of the Country have written to the Prime Minister demanding the arrest of the MLA but to no avail. The question arises whether an MLA is above the law of the land that he shall slap a woman and hit her on back and shall get away with it? Where is the ‘Justice’ then? Is it meant for the poor only who are locked behind the bars for trivial matters? I leave it to the wisdom of the readers to decide the true character of power and the related arrogance therewith by submitting that whenever the ‘State’ becomes supportive of ‘Stateless’ the very idea of its existence is totally dismantled.
(ROHIT KUMAR is 4th year B.A.LL.B Student of School of Law, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha)