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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightEditorialchevron_rightWill the law be let...

Will the law be let take its course, or be tamed?

Will the law be let take its course, or be tamed?

Despite India's proud wrestlers - who have won accolades for the country through gold medals at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and other contests - showing immense patience, the establishment is still unmoved and flexing its muscles against their protests of attrition. Instead of booking the culprit against whom ample evidence has been furnished by reputed wrestlers and bringing him before law, the Central government is turning a deaf year to their case. And the prime minister, who is given to going eloquent about development for all and security to girls, has not so far made his mann ki baath (his mind) clear on the issue. As for the home minister, who leads the task of protecting the citizens, wrapped up the matter last Saturday after prolonged midnight discussion with the platitude 'the law will take its own course'. The reaction of the wrestlers who took part in the talks was that the Home Minister's response fell short of their expectation. The protesters had in fact started their protest at Jantar Mantar alleging that the ruling establishment instead of allowing the law to take its course, actually arm-twisted it in the path they dictated. But the Delhi Police, which comes under the Central government, declared even the protest illegal, blocked it, took control of Jantar Mantar and banned the protest. Finally, left with no choice, the athletes decided to throw their medals into the Ganga. That was a painful re-enactment of what boxer Muhammd Ali Clay, who despite winning the world champion title in 1960 got helpless against torture of colour discrimination and threw his gold medal into the Ohio River. Here again the stars were ones who were holding a futile protest against torture. But in the meantime, the hero of the farmers' agitation, Rakesh Tikait, dissuaded them from it and bought an interim respite. Thus, the demand they raised was revised to the arrest of WFI President and BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh Brij Bhushan Singh by June 9. It was following this that they met Home Minister on Saturday night at his residence. The hour-long talks ended with a disappointing outcome, as the first reactions of the protesters made clear.

In the meantime, the prominent faces among the wrestlers who led the strike, are reported to have resumed their duty the other day. But they have also asserted that they would not back out from the strike. However, it is yet to be clear in the coming days what path the Centre meant while saying that the law will take its course. The BJP government at the Centre has so far not been prepared to resolve the demands raised in the protest that has been continuing for several months, or to lend an ear to the views of the bodies including United World Wresting on the matter. Instead, the attempt from official establishments unfortunately has been to tarnish the protest and torpedo it. The capital has been bearing witness to a modus operandi of dismantling the protests, as done to the anti-CAA agitation, and later the farmers' protest. The police expelled the protesters from Jantar Mantar and sealed it. Cases were registered against the strikers for violating law and order. Thus what we saw was the law moving against the protesters. At the same time, the accused Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh appeared before the media several times, gave a communal colour to the issue in a clever attempt to ensure support to himself. It is an accused booked under two FIRs under stringent provisions of POCSO – in which a victim need only raise a finger against an assailant for him to go behind bars – is challenging critics to prove his guilt with CCTV video, pictures or witnesses. And there was even a queer situation of his getting the support of the official machinery. And news agencies like ANI, which is customarily at the forefront for the government's propaganda, carried stories quoting Delhi Police sources that sufficient evidence could not be garnered against Brij Bhushan. But Delhi Police subsequently was constrained to deny it. And then a man, declaring himself as the uncle of a victim in the POCSO complaint, came out with a video claiming that the minor victim was being coerced to speak against the WFI president. The video even went to the extent of disclosing the identify of the victim flagrantly violating the provisions of POCSO. And Singh issued a public statement that POCSO was being misused across the country and he and his supporters would exert pressure on the Central government to revisit the law. As if that were not enough, he made an attempt to organise a grand rally of Hindu religious leaders in Ayodhya to make them raise the demand to abolish or dilute POCSO, though eventually the rally was cancelled.

What has been in display all through the episodes is the Centre's diligence not to block the high-handed moves of the accused to bring law into his grasp. Most recently, when one observes the decision of the wrestlers to go back to duty after the talks with the Home Minister, and a set of pro-government media celebrating it, that strengthens the suspicion whether the government is out to handle the wrestlers' strike also along the lines it did the previous protests. It will soon become clear whether the Centre's decision is to really let law take its course or to tame popular protests the same way as it did earlier.

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TAGS:Wrestlers protestJantar MantarAmit ShahBrij Bhushan Sharan SinghWrestlers decide to report for workUnited World Wrestling
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