Conviction of a religious mystic Gurmeet (full name is too long to mention) in Haryana had led to violence in the region. This time violence took 30 lives, more than 250 injured along with the loss of property and social life disturbance.
This violence in Haryana is not the first of its kind. There is a long list of violent incidents in the region over the issues ranging from religion to insult of religious leaders, for caste and even over administrative rights over Gurudwara’s functioning. Violent incidents over and over again raise some serious questions about the functioning of government & social structure in the state.
Violence in past
In 2014, Guru Rampal refused to appear in court for criminal charges. When the court ordered his arrest, there was a standoff between his followers/members and the police. The standoff lasted for three days including the death of three women’s & several other injured.
Agitation of Jat’s in February 2016 needs no recall. It lasted for more than 10 days with full ferocity paralyzing the whole state. The violence claimed more than 30 lives & hundreds injured. The worst part of this violence was looting & burning of markets, with Rohtak district completely vandalized. PHD chamber of commerce has estimated the loss at 34000 crores. There were also claims of mass rapes along the National highway.
Apart from these, there have been regular clashes. In 2010 also this mystic guru Gurmeet (long name one) portrayed himself as 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh at a public function in Salabatpura, Bathinda. This initiated clashes among Sikh religious bodies/followers & Mystic Guru supporters.
In August 2014, New organization “Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC)” was created in Haryana to control the functioning of Gurudwaras in the state independently. Earlier gurdwaras in both states were controlled by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which heads from Golden Temple, Amritsar-Punjab. The formation of new body initiated clashes between the two bodies.
The first question which arises is – How the individuals with criminal charges get so much support from the public? They claim themselves as an avatar of “GOD” with super natural instinct and people believes them. They support them blindly, even after surfacing of criminal evidence against them. How can it be possible in the 21st century? Such cases are not present in rest of India or at least not with such a high intensity.
The second Question is – Why people resort to violent protest every time? Protest for reservation was in other states – Jat reservation protest took place in Utter Pradesh also, there was a protest from Gujjar community for reservation in Rajasthan, Patel Community in Gujarat. None of them were so violent even after having much larger number of protesters. There was no major violence during the arrest of Asaram or his court proceedings in Gujarat rape case. Not even after his conviction.
If we assume that there is no role or relation of these violent incidents with politics. Then also, why the government & authorities fail to control the situation again and again? CBI court had put the hearing long back, the circumstances were known to authorities beforehand. Why were the appropriate measures not taken?
Each time it is the local public which suffers the loss; still, people turn to violence next time. Why don’t people understand that their emotions are being used by these mystics to protect their wrong doing?
Politics & Politics
The list of violent protests and conflicts is long, but there are some common patterns about these incidents. The involved parties in all such incidents had huge political clout. It is surprising that, instead of providing appropriate security to witnesses even after multiple threats; mystic Gurmeet was provided with Z security from the government in 2014. Political parties seek support from these fake religious leaders during elections and Political leaders and share the stage with them frequently during election campaigns.
Jat’s reservation protest was a result of flexing of muscles for cast domination & its role in voter statistics. Jat’s have a strong influence in the state & has the potential to alter the result of any election. Role of Gurudwara committees or other religious bodies in local elections & state elections is already widely disputed both in Haryana & Punjab.
All such groups used to have large number paid supporters or we can call them employees. These employees generally have the skill set of local goons, who on the call of their employer can loot, vandalize or create disruption in the region through violence. Either the state authorities were sleeping and had no clue about the power of these individuals or the state authorities were aware but didn’t bother to put check on them. In any case, the State governments are responsible – either for sleeping or for ignorance.
Against the Law/Judiciary
All of these cases had involvement of Judiciary. The act of violence in a way was to deter judiciary from an unfavorable decision or to alter the verdict given. Even after the Supreme Court canceling the reservation for Jats providing reasons that they are not backward & hence don’t need reservations, they protested violently. Similarly, when Godman Rampal refused to adhere to the court order, his followers/supporters tried to protect him from arrest. In the current case, people turned violent after the conviction of mystic Gurmeet.
If we look at other cases from the region related to Honor killings, Cow vigilantes actions, Gramin Pachyat rulings from time to time; then a similar pattern of challenging the law or judiciary surface.
This shows two things about –
- Peoples don’t understand the value of Judiciary/law and also lacks faith in the System.
- They believe that they can enact what they want by the use of power or violence.
High on Economic Prosperity but Low on Social Values
The region has one of the highest per capita income levels in the country. The level of social schemes and functioning of the government bodies is also at a better level than many other states/regions. Therefore, the region enjoys economic prosperity. But when we talk about social indicators – different picture emerges. The region has one of the highest skewed gender ratio, high liquor consumption, high number of criminal cases per person which includes – sexual & domestic violence.
The region also performs poor in terms of education levels in spite of having high educational resources. Haryana has a total of 39 universities including state, central & private universities. This is very high compared to the size and population of the state. As per the AISHE final report for 2015-16, Haryana has 35 colleges per lakh of the population(18-23 Years age) which is higher than Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra an all India average which is 28. Enrollment ratio in higher education is higher at 26.1% against national average 24.5%. But when it comes to performance the state fairs poor – According to 2011 census, Haryana comes 22nd in literacy level out of 36 states & union territories. Performance in higher education is much poor.
Wrong Policies Might be the reason
There has been a sudden increase in the income of the region first due to green revolution & second after property boom because of geographical advantage. This sudden rise in Income had led to economic prosperity but not social development. The region still suffers from the age old problems of castes, religious misbeliefs, gender inequality and much more.
It might be possible that rise in income first without parallel social development had made the people stubborn and misinformed. As a result, instead of accepting the law they try to enforce what they seem right. This needs special attention of policy makers & social researchers. And if it is so, then it will be an important lesson for policy makers & government. Because at the moment, Government focus seems to be on the economic prosperity with a low emphasis on social development.