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Check lumpen elements too

THIS IS a first-hand experience of misuse of red and blue beacon lights. It dates back to 2002 when Vishwa Hindu Parishad was desperately reviving the Rama temple issue through its ?shila daan? programme. Though there was nothing unusual in returning home late in the night from Ayodhya in a taxi, the driver somehow appeared a little restless. And as the car stopped at the railway crossing, he grew panicky.

india Updated: Jun 04, 2006 10:31 IST

THIS IS a first-hand experience of misuse of red and blue beacon lights. It dates back to 2002 when Vishwa Hindu Parishad was desperately reviving the Rama temple issue through its ‘shila daan’ programme. Though there was nothing unusual in returning home late in the night from Ayodhya in a taxi, the driver somehow appeared a little restless. And as the car stopped at the railway crossing, he grew panicky.

Meekly he said, “Can I put this read beacon light, you will be more secure?” Obviously aghast by this question, I gently asked, “It’s a taxi, how can you put a red beacon light. It’s illegal.” Pat came the reply, “Often this taxi is used by ministers or bureaucrats, so we keep all coloured beacon lights, nobody dares to stop me on the highway. Also, it becomes easier to get a pass from these erratic taxi and bus drivers.”.

Yes, it’s so simple. Anyone can put beacon lights anywhere and at anytime. But this won’t be so provided the government sustained its drive against their unauthorised use.

In fact the promptness with which Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav decided to make unauthorised use of red and blue beacon lights a criminal offence or the alacrity with which he disowned the five so-called grandsons of Lohia is worthy of appreciation. Both the acts of the government should serve as a deterrent as all earlier drives to check their misuse had failed because of so-called “connections” with the high and mighty. At least now one can hope that guys would think twice before flaunting their political connections. Nonetheless, the success of the drive would depend on two things.

First is its continuity. Now that the bureaucrats have got a green signal from Mulayam, there is no reason for them to drop it half way. Second, leaders of all other political parties should follow suit. In fact they should ban use of red and blue beacon lights in their respective parties besides ordering the cadre not to flaunt their connections through name-dropping.

It may sound a little incongruous, but such a diktat by political parties would help solve the problem by half. Now that unauthorised use of beacon lights has become a criminal offence, officials would do best to stay away from this practice.

Though commendable, yet the steps taken by the government -- after five youths drove down CO, Chowk on the bonnet of their jeep in the rush hour of the evening -- are not enough to revive the confidence of the police and public alike. A palpable fear prevails in the city, which till few years back was a safe and sleepy city that people liked to inhabit after retirement because of its very peaceful character.

What has gone wrong? Why have people started avoiding morning walks or late dinner night strolls? After all the general public does not have the cops trailing them in walking plazas. Agreed the mafiosi from all over the state seems to have descended on the capital, but is that the only reason for the scare on the streets.

Two that I can identify is the daredevil manner in which the lumpen elements move in the city, on speeding bikes, in open jeeps with arms that they display. Apparently they don’t belong to any political party. They travel from party to party and have scant regard for social or political courtesies or fear of law. They can be seen at political functions, especially of various youth wings, as their ambition is to make a career in politics. Perhaps immediate action should be taken against such lumpen elements.

Second is the demoralised police force. As someone said, “There was a time when the cop’s danda was enough to keep criminals in check. Today even Dy SP level officer in uniform is not safe. In fact, government’s action in this particular case would send a message to all and sundry. Public memory may be short, but Rajesh Sahni’s colleagues are bound to keep a tab on the developments that would follow -- whether Sahni is rewarded or penalised once the heat is over.

Knowing the no-nonsense approach of the present DGP Bua Singh, one can hope that Sahni won’t be punished, if not rewarded.

The chief minister may have to take more steps to raise the morale of cops After all a demoralised force can neither protect public life nor those of the politicians. And with more and more politicians feeling threat to their lives, it’s high time the government took concrete measures to not only overhaul the police force but also boost their morale.