The desecration of Babasaheb Ambedkar's statue in Kanpur deserves to be condemned by all those who uphold democratic principles and cherish human values. But even staunch supporters of Dalits cannot condone the mindless violence that led to the death of four persons and destruction of public property, including five coaches of the Deccan Queen, across Maharashtra. Such protests throw the lives of the common people out of gear. They result in the avoidable loss of public money. Anti-social elements infiltrate the ranks of protesters and indulge in mischief to further their agenda.
Most importantly, the protesters, in this case Dalits, lose the sympathy secured after decades-long struggle. A relentless champion of individual freedom, Dr. Ambedkar would not have endorsed a violent reaction of this enormity.
Such large-scale destruction of property is despicable, whatever the provocation. The timing of the statue's desecration shows it is the work of some vested interests bent on capturing the Dalit vote bank. The Maharashtra Government too deserves to be condemned for not taking adequate preventive action.
All right-thinking people will agree that the desecration of Dr. Ambedkar's statue was felonious. But burning trains and indulging in riots leading to loss of lives are more atrocious. Human life is certainly more precious than a statue.
The defacement of Dr. Ambedkar's statue is condemnable. No civilised person can condone such acts. At the same time, violence is deplorable. What did Dr. Ambedkar's supporters gain by indulging in arson? They only ended up destroying property built from taxpayers' money and creating hardship for the common man. Dr. Ambedkar would certainly not have approved.
The leaders of Dalit organisations who use such incidents for personal gains should be held responsible for the losses. While their outrage at the desecration was justified, they should not have allowed the protests to go out of control.
Protests against an insane incident in Kanpur, leading to the loss of four lives, were unwarranted. Dr. Ambedkar did not teach the people to protest thus. We need to understand that violence begets violence and the cycle goes on. We should destroy hatred and casteism, not our own property.
Vancouver, British Columbia
The picture of the Deccan Queen going up in flames is appalling. It is ironical that such violence was let loose in the name of a revered national leader who championed social justice, harmony, and peace. The visual media should also share part of the blame for the flare-up.
Four precious lives have been lost, many injured, and trains and buses burned. Can the nation afford such losses? Mobocracy leads to more problems, not solutions. The Government should have been prepared to handle the situation.
That a group of protesters could burn the coaches of a train shows the lack of the Government's preparedness. The police should have anticipated the unrest. The leaders who instigated the riots should be dealt with strictly.
From the television images, it was clear that the mob knew exactly what to do. Without planning, it is impossible to cause such destruction. The Government should deal with the unruly elements and make them pay for the losses.
Protesters and their leaders will do well to remember that the money to recover the losses comes from the taxpayers. The fact that those who are not even remotely responsible for the act that triggered the violence are made to suffer is unfortunate indeed. Governments look weak-kneed in the wake of such acts and seem completely ignorant of how to control the situation.
Nitin G. Gokarn,
Such vandalism can in no way be justified or permitted in a civilised society. Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan's reported statement that the strong reaction showed there was an awakening among Dalits is unfortunate. Normality should be restored soon to enable law-abiding citizens to live in peace.