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When political vandalism is above law

First, the Shiv Sena attacked the Intercontinental in Sahar for sacking Marathi employees. Then, in neighbouring Karnataka, the Sri Ram Sene thrashed girls at a pub.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2009 14:33 IST
Sweta Ramanujan

First, the Shiv Sena attacked the Intercontinental in Sahar for sacking Marathi employees. Then, in neighbouring Karnataka, the Sri Ram Sene thrashed girls at a pub. And back in Mumbai, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena vandalised the Mumbai university campus because it offered Hindi as an option to Marathi.

These incidents are so frequent, especially in Mumbai, that the average Mumbaikar may not even take note each time. But the damage is being done and the perpetrators seem to be getting away lightly each time.

The last time a political party paid for hooliganism was when the high court impos-ed a fine of Rs 20 lakh each on the Shiv Sena and the BJP in 2004 for causing losses to the city when they called for a Mumbai bandh the year before.

That may have discouraged the parties from such attempts in the future, but it seems there is no stopping their vandalism under the garb of political activism

“The laws are very stringent, but no one enforces them,” said former IPS officer Y.P. Singh. “The police is very amenable to political pressure.”

According to Singh, the police can invoke penal and preventive measures, but the political class will not allow that. They can make preventive arrests too — but they don’t.

“We have effective laws in place, but generally, since these are ostensibly political and public issues, the authorities and courts are not very rigorous,” said criminal lawyer Majeed Memon. “But the time for change has come. Policemen should act promptly and effectively and the government should take a very deterrent and strong political decision to curb this menace,” he added.