It has become almost a Pavlovian response -- lumpen elements going on the rampage destroying public property every time someone says or does something that they do not agree with. This time around, over 30-40 people attacked the headquarters of AAP in Kaushambi, Ghaziabad, ostensibly to protest against the remark made by one of the party’s leaders Prashant Bhushan.
He had said that a referendum should be carried out in Kashmir to decide if the Indian Army be deployed in the Valley. The thugs purportedly belonging to the Hindu Raksha Dal then registered their protest by destroying AAP property in Kaushambi.
The AAP leader said that his statement was misconstrued and the party has distanced itself from Mr Bhushan’s statement. The so-called Hindu Raksha Dal’s actions are of a piece with those of the Rama Sene in Bangalore who went took it upon itself to make its anger against Valentine’s Day and such ‘western’ imports felt by destroying public property. The Shiv Sena workers are past masters at preserving Indian culture by attacking shops selling Valentine’s Day gifts and by belabouring courting couples.
This intolerance and lumpen behaviour extends to works of art which these miscreants don’t appreciate on the grounds that they insult some element of Indian culture and also books which are seen to portray India in a bad light. That those rampaging about have little knowledge of either Indian culture or literature bears no reiteration. The simple truth is that these people behave in this unseemly manner simply because they get away with it.
Now that there are CCTV cameras in many public places, they should be given no quarter. Most of them become self-styled vigilantes in the hope of 15 minutes of fame on television. If the consequence of this was made a little more painful, perhaps, the penchant for the limelight through wanton destruction would wane a little.
In the present case, Mr Bhushan’s remarks may be out of place, but he certainly has a right to his opinion without people destroying his party’s office. It is not ideology which drives such groups.
The first thing that political parties must do is roundly condemn the goons who engage in such activities. They should extend no patronage to them as was done by the Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party on several occasions when mobs went wild spurred on by some or other spurious ideology. The law should act firmly with these people and if they have any party affiliations, the organisation should pay the damages.