Monday, August 19, 2019

Run up to the August 21 Dalit Protest in Delhi– An Open Letter

Run up to the August 21 Dalit Protest in Delhi– An Open Letter

Dear All,
This is in continuation of two open letters of August 11 and August 13 on the sad demolition of Guru Ravidass Mandir at Tughlakabad in Delhi. The August 13 Bandh in Punjab, it was expected, would awaken the government from the slumber and a right decision to address and undo the demolition of the mandir would be taken by the GOI. Subsequent to the August 13 Punjab Bandh, various delegations, particularly representing the ruling outfits BJP and Akalis, met the Hon’ble Minister of Urban Development and the Lt. Governor. Others representing the Deras, social and spiritual organizations of the followers of Guru Ravidass have been making
Protest at Bootan Mandi Jalandhar
a hue and cry in vain. In spite of the fact that the incident of demolition happened in the capital city of Delhi and the August 13 Punjab Bandh gave a clear indication that the situation was volatile, the media which is blissfully ignorant and silent, regrettably did not take any cognizance of it as a public issue of importance. People are attracted more to the social media which is rife in spreading the truth and more often half-truths and un-truths.

Much water, over the days since the said demolition, has flown in the Yamuna and is already crossing the danger level in these days of rainy weather and also over-flowing with social distrust and acrimony. There is no official reaction or statement in the public domain as to how they propose to address the issue and take into confidence the followers of Guru Ravidass to redress their grievances with regard to the demolition of the mandir. The things are getting hot and heading for avoidable confrontation to my mind. I only hope that it takes a right turn to save the situation. At the same time, I have faith in the ability and sincerity of the concerned Minister Hardip Singh Puri who is at the helm of the issue. If I go by the social media reports, there have been protests in all the major cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi and other prominent towns and cities apart from Punjab which was already
up-in-arms against the act of demolition of the mandir in Delhi. There are also reports that the
Protest at HCI London
followers of Guru Ravidass living in various countries abroad are equally perturbed and angry and have demonstrated in front of our diplomatic missions and submitted memorandums to register their anguish and protest. GOI, in its better judgement, is either confident that nothing would happen and they have some readymade solution in their pocket which would satisfy the people or they are, as usual, waiting to see the strength and impact of the on-going protest. I don’t think it is a right approach. GOI must not be seen as a mere spectator and must decide things on the basis of the destructive and confrontational potential of the peaceful and constitutional protest.

As I warned in my earlier letters, owing to the fact that the protesters are not well organized and divided, the vested interests might be sitting on the fence to exploit the fluid situation to their advantage. I have already seen reports in the social media which indicate Khalistani extremists and some Kashmiri separatists and also outright terrorists were subtly engaging themselves to provoke and entice the hapless dalit youth to come to the streets and take things into their hands.

The purpose of this letter is to forewarn the decision makers and also the protestors to ward off ourselves from the lurking danger of unconstitutional methods which were termed as “Grammar of Anarchy” by Babasaheb Ambedkar. Any laxity or even delay in addressing the issue has the potential of inflicting undue and uncalled for damage to the polity and social fabric of the society. GOI and the civic society, including the important organisations like the RSS, SGPC among others would not sit tight, I believe. And if they do so, it would be at their own peril. Let us listen to the poetic expression of Krishan Bihari Noor in addressing the matter:

आओ सारे मसले  इस रौशनी में हल करें,
तुम भी ज़िम्मेदार हो और हम भी ज़िम्मेदार हैं !
तुम भी अब हाथों के सारे पत्थर फैंक दो,
हम भी सबकुछ भूल जाने को तैयार हैं !

With all the best wishes for peace and prosperity of our country.

Yours truly,

(Ramesh Chander)
Ambassador – IFS (Retired)
Telephone: 9988510940

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