Two Protests, Two Responses: Administration’s Double Standard Exposed


Trains were set on fire in Bihar by Angipath protesters

How could one protester be a “comrade” while another a “troublemaker” for the same chief minister who swears by the constitution to treat every citizen equally?

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – One can easily pinpoint the stark difference in the attitude of the government, the police, the media and the commentators from their reaction to the violent protests by different groups.

While dealing with the Friday protesters of Muslims, the aforementioned statutory agencies were quick to call them out glossing over the fact that protest is a democratic right of every citizen. Just a few days later, while dealing with the protests against Agneepath, they played it cool, calm and sympathetic to the cause of the protesters involved in violence and arson. Even vandalisation of public properties and stone pelting didn’t provoke them into resorting to seriou action leave along firing on them.

 In contrast, on Friday, when Muslims protested in different parts of the country against Bharatiya Janata Praty (BJP) leaders’ outrage against Prophet Muhammad, the police launched a brutal crackdown against them citing “stone-pelting” as a major reason for their action.

The police ruthlessly rained lathis blows on the protesters even after arresting them, in custody. In Ranchi, two boys lost their lives when the police opened fire at the protestors indiscriminately. In Saharanpur, the police meted out the protesters with third degree torture in the custody. After the protest, the police raided and nabbed many protesters. The administration has demolished their houses and is planning to demolish more houses belonging to the protesters.

Even journalists and media persons have no qualms about calling the Muslim protesters “arsonists”, “rioters”, “stone-pelters” and hence “anti-nationals”. BJP leaders and Hindutva supporters were abusing Muslims for simply protesting. Centrists were demanding strict punishment for the protesters. Secular leaders and liberal sympathisers were giving sermons on non-violent protests.

However, six days later, this behaviour towards protest underwent a drastic change when army aspirants resorted to violent protest against the Agneepath army recruitment scheme in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and other states. The police are trying to deal with the protesters sensitively. It is trying to engage with them and pacify them. The government is making friendly and reconciliatory statements. The media is calling them “angry youth”, not arsonists, “angry protesters”, not rioters, “disgruntled youth”, not stone-pelters.  
The starkest contrast in the reaction to the two protests has come from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. A day after Muslim protest, Yogi tweeted about dealing with them with a heavy hand calling them “updravi” and “anti-social elements”.

“Such action should be taken against the troublemakers (updravi) as to set an example for the antisocial elements that they should never think of disturbing peace,” tweeted Yogi.

In another tweet, he used similar tough words against the protesters: “The anarchic elements which disturb peace will be dealt with harshly. There should not be a place in the civilised society for such people.”

However, the tone and tenor of the chief minister completely changed from aggressive to that of friendly while reacting to the Agneepath protests. He did not talk about taking any action against them for their violent protests, damaging and torching public properties. He only explained to them the benefits of the schemes addressing them as “comrades”.

“Young comrades, Angeepath scheme will provide you with new options and a golden base for your life in future. Don’t be misled by anyone. Angeeveer will be an incredible policy of the nation dedicated to the motherland and the UP government will give priority to agniveer in the police and other services,” tweeted Yogi in Hindi.

How could one protester be a “comrade” while another a “troublemaker” for the same chief minister who swears by the constitution to treat every citizen equally?

While dealing with the Agneepath protesters, the police in Bihar said they are trying to pacify the protesters. “They are protesting on the railway tracks. We are trying to pacify them. We are making an effort to clear the railway tracks. We are monitoring the situation,” said Kaimur SP Rakesh Kumar in response to a train set ablaze by the protesters.

We have not heard such statements from Ranchi Police while dealing with the protesters on Friday.


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