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Ashutosh Mishra

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: A countrywide debate is raging over Meerut SP (city) Akhilesh Narayan Singh’s alleged ‘ go to Pakistan ’ comment made during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). It has come to light via a video purportedly shot during the protests in the communally sensitive city of Uttar Pradesh. The video, according to media reports, has gone viral which is only to be expected.

While one is yet to come across a statement on the issue from the officer concerned the controversy has triggered a political slugfest, causing division even within the Bhartiya Janata Party. Senior party leader and union minorities affair minister, Mukhtar Abbar Naqvi has described Singh’s remarks as unacceptable and called for action against him if the allegation is found to be true. On the other hand, UP deputy chief minister, Keshav Prasad Maurya and former union minister, Uma Bharati have jumped to the defence of the officer.

The alleged comment of the police officer and the reactions it has evoked should be seen in the larger context of the divisive environment engendered by issues like CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC). There is growing fear and mistrust and all the major political parties appear to be equally responsible for this. While a section of BJP leaders needs to tone down their rhetoric opposition leaders, especially those belonging to the Congress should also start behaving in a more mature manner instead of trying to seek political gains at the cost of country’s unity.

It is now amply clear that a sizeable chunk of our population does not understand the implications of either CAA or NCR. This is because they have not been properly sensitized. Any such move should be preceded by a massive awareness drive which has not happened in this case. Instead, the BJP has now decided to launch a countrywide awareness campaign to debunk what it calls opposition’s misleading propaganda on these issues.

Given this backdrop and the fact that India has a painful history of communal division, it is easy for vested interests to incite violence on such sensitive issues. What is unfortunate is that very often innocent citizens become victims of such violence. Even the majority of protesters who hit the streets generally have no proper understanding of what they are protesting about. For politicians, it has become so easy to bring them on to the streets and turn them into cannon fodder.

That being so it is extremely important that police officers behave in a restrained and responsible manner. Irrespective of the provocations they should not make statements that can further aggravate an already bad situation. This is all the more important in a politically and communally sensitive state like Uttar Pradesh. The state is currently in the thick of the action by diverse political parties and groups over issues like CAA and NCR. Some of them with vested interests appear to be hell-bent on turning it into a cauldron of inflammable sentiments. The state government and responsible citizens should do everything within their powers to defeat the nefarious designs of such elements. Restrained behaviour will be the first major step in this direction.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)

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