In its new avatar, the bulldozer is keeping encroachers on their toes
The advent of bulldozer as a potent tool for controlling illegally constructed dwellings, is UP chief minister's singular contribution. It has won him the recent state elections, inspired chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) to come out of their stupor and act. Its popularity has reached such a crescendo that even British prime minister Boris Johnson, could not remain unaffected. Standing by its side, he hailed, 'Jai Bulldozer Baba ki Jai.
Like other tools - CBI, ED - of checking crime, bulldozer has generated enormous heat, partly absurd and partly funny. When DMC used bulldozers to raze unauthorised shops, houses and shanties in Jehangirpuri area following attack on a Hanuman Jayanti procession with stones and weapons, hell broke loose. Opposition party leaders termed bulldozer's action retributive, divisive and inhuman. Joining their shrill voice, lawyers Kapil Sibbal and his likes who get easily traumatized by their conscience, rushed to the supreme court for a stay on further march of bulldozers. The judges' final view is awaited.
You wonder why the liberal cabal is so angry if bulldozer is cleaning the city roads of ugly, illegal structures. It's possibly on two counts; one, the demolition was carried out to avenge the role played by Muslim stone pelters, instigators and harbourers of criminals in clashes, a charge that is yet to be proved in the police investigation. Second, the plan was to punish Muslims for not voting for BJP and for wholeheartedly supporting AAP and other opposition political parties. If you believe them, bulldozers were thus used with a communal, majoritarian mind-set and their future deployment deserve to be banned forthwith. Their another complain is that demolition was blatantly selective. There are dozens of locations littered with unauthorized houses and shacks all over Delhi but MCD apparently had no inclination or courage to take bulldozers in those areas.
In their high-pitched drama before the judges, secular lawyers had everything to argue but not whether the houses and kiosks being brought down were unauthorized or whether their occupants had been served notices to evacuate. They really had no interest in raising or discussing the issue of law but in pressurizing judges to issue a set of guidelines to regulate operation of bulldozers in future. They may not have specified these guidelines but going by the thrust of their brouhaha in the supreme court, it is clear what regulations they had in mind - first, number of unauthorised houses/kiosks/shanties to be razed will be the same as for Hindus and Muslims; second, bulldozer will not be employed to dispense 'instant justice', meaning that no illegal structure will be pulled down immediately after communal violence, or after a political/religious opponent has issued a threat or after an unlawful act has been committed. Preferably, the time gap will be from a week to a year to avoid linkage between the crime and the offender; and, third, there will be no pick and choose of areas/houses to be pulled down. The demolition will be a comprehensive operation, carried out simultaneously across all locations, regardless of religion, economic condition and political affiliation.
The bulldozer's opponents want to broadly convey that India runs the risk of being internationally isolated if it does not follow the guidelines. As it is, the western journalists and hired lobbyists in the US, UK and Canada in particular, who are kept updated with malicious propaganda material by their paid Indian surrogates, never tire of accusing India of pursuing an ultra-nationalist agenda to usher in a Hindu Rashtra at the cost of religious minorities. More Delhi ignores or chides them, more they become strident and agitated. During British PM's recent visit, a lady journalist could not resist raising an alarm over India's aggressive Hinduism pitch and sought to know from the Indian external affairs minister if India is aware of how it is being perceived in Islamic and western countries. Clearly, colonisers and self-proclaimed guardians of democratic norms are struggling to cope with the New India.