Saturday’s violence at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, where protesters gathered to condemn the violence against Muslims in Assam and Myanmar and which led to the loss of two lives, cannot be justified on any ground, including the 1993 Mumbai riots and the fear perception of the minorities (“Déjà vu in Mumbai,” Aug. 13). Those who attacked the media and the police in Azad Maidan hardly seemed to be in fear. They allegedly molested policewomen and desecrated the Amar Jawan memorial, besides burning media vans despite the fact that most sections of the mainstream media favour the minorities. If the past is a yardstick for the present, we should go back to 1947 — even earlier.
Anticipating violence, the Mumbai police should have taken adequate safety measures. In view of Independence Day and the recent Pune serial blasts, they should have refused permission for such a large number of protesters to gather at Azad Maidan. A little foresight on their part could have saved two lives and avoided mayhem.
When violence and senseless killings erupted in Assam, the Mumbai police should have, considering the city’s past record, put into place stringent security measures aimed at curbing the designs of those out to destroy the fragile fabric of communal amity.
It is deplorable that some Muslim groups, rather than advocating moderation and peaceful protests, chose to excite passions leading to violence and mayhem. Bodo-Muslim frictions are nothing new in Assam.
It is very sad that a crowd which assembled to offer prayers for those killed in Assam and Myanmar turned violent. It appears that some elements want to exploit the Assam incidents to further their personal agenda. Mumbai is religiously sensitive despite its cosmopolitan nature. Despite repeated attempts by vested interests to disturb peace in the economic capital, the government and the police have done nothing to strengthen communal harmony among people. The Muslim community comes under suspicion every time an untoward incident in the city or other parts of the country takes place. This polarises society even more.
The Mumbai violence is a serious expression of tensions building up in many parts of the country. The Assam spillover can have implications across the country if the Centre and the State government fail to take urgent measures to end the ethnic conflict.
At the same time, those who incite violence on the pretext of expressing sympathy for the victims of the Assam riots should be dealt with sternly.
While Saturday’s attack on the media is deplorable, the media’s attitude is equally condemnable. In a democracy, the media plays an important role in highlighting social issues. But, of late, it has been resorting to selective reporting.
The Mumbai protesters had a point when they said the media did not give adequate coverage to the Assam riots.
S. Viswanathan Nair,
In the surcharged atmosphere in Mumbai, all religious groups should allow the law to take its course. The intelligentsia and religious leaders should appeal for peace instead of pointing fingers at other communities.
Whether in Assam or elsewhere, the fragile communal unity should not be allowed to be broken.