Priyanka Chaturvedi, New Delhi:
“Jo maangta hai, vo maangta rahe. Humne apna kaam acchi tarah kiya tha (Whosoever is asking for my resignation, let them ask. We did our work well),” These words from CM Manoharlal Khattar after his meeting with the BJP President Amit Shah reflects the arrogance of power that has crept into the entire government machinery under the BJP. A government that came into power assuring the people of the country maximum governance and accountability has been quick to do a turnaround since coming into power. So whether it is Suresh Prabhu not being held accountable for the loss of lives due to increased train accidents since 2014 or CM Yogi for the children who died in Gorakhpur for lack of oxygen or in Chattisgarh where more than 800 children have died in government hospitals.
The Baba Ram Rahim saga in Haryana is one of the many failures of Khattar government in maintaining law and order in the state. Haryana under BJP has repeatedly seen life and property threatened yet no remorse coming from the government. Be it the widespread arson, loot and murder during the Jat reservation agitation resulting in loss of over two dozen lives and destruction of property worth over Rs 5000 Crores in various places or the evacuation of Sant Rampal episode in Barwala Ashram, Hisar, Haryana where the State machinery failed completely, complicity of BJP to garner votes at the expense of life of people is always the sole yardstick of the current BJP Government. If one was to look at the poor track record of women’s safety, it would need an entire column altogether.
A brief background on what led to the current crisis: The chief of Dera Sach Sauda was accused with rape charges of a female devotee in 1999. The CBI took over the investigation in 2002. The case was registered by the CBI in 2002 against the self-styled godman after allegations of sexual exploitation of two women followers through anonymous letters. The hearing had been going on since 2007 and the special CBI court of Panchkula concluded the hearing in the case on Aug 17, but reserved pronouncing the verdict for August 25.
The build up of his followers in Panchkula days before the verdict was largely ignored by the Haryana government and Sec 144 was not implemented to avoid any law and order issues that might arise. The senior-most Cabinet Minister, Shri Ram Bilas Sharma went on to say that section 144 is not applicable to the crowd that had converged in Panchkula. The Punjab and Haryana High Court came down heavily on the government and stated: “We want preventive action and it is visible in none of the state’s orders. It is really disheartening. The same thing happened during the Jat agitation. You are encouraging them. Where is the order prohibiting the assembly of five and more? We asked you to get the order. These are the basic preventive measures even for a simple law and order problem. You then cry before the Centre on the gravity of the situation but who has created the gravity.” Not just that high court directed the ministry of home affairs (MHA) to release as much paramilitary forces as required for the state of Haryana ahead of the verdict on Dera Sacha Sauda head, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Yet we saw over 35 lives lost and property damaged after the CBI court declared Ram Rahim guilty in the case. On the other hand, the High Court went on to censure the state government over the violence which rocked Panchkula and many other parts of Haryana. In a scathing personal criticism of Haryana’s Chief Minister ML Khattar, the HC said , “You let a city like Panchkula burn due to political reasons”
If this isn't a strong indictment coming from the judiciary on the total failure of the Khattar government then BJP alone knows what is. The BJP President gave an indication of that by speaking against the verdict, MP Sakshi Maharaj by making it a Hindu Muslim issue besides accusing the women victims of Ram Rahim for making up false charges to implicate him. The biggest indicator of BJP’s zero commitment to transparency and accountability in governance is best summed up by CM Khattar’s statement on not stepping down.
(Priyanka Chaturvedi is Congress spokesperson and views expressed are her own)