By Sushil Kutty
The “Mini Secretariat” in Karnal, Haryana, is where the fired up farmers came after the hugely successful Muzaffarnagar ‘kisan mahapanchayat’, raring to put up a similar performance in the Karnal Anaj Mandi. There the farmers put forward three demands, hoping to nudge Chief Minister Manoharlal Khattar to correct several wrongs. But Khattar is aping Narendra Modi and hasn’t budged from his anti-farmer stance.
The farmers wanted action taken against police who had lathi-charged them. One farmer died of injuries sustained. The farmers wanted Rs 25 lakh compensation for the “martyred” farmer’s family, and a government job to a family member. The farmers also wanted Khattar to “suspend” Karnal SDM Ayush Sinha, who was heard and seen on camera asking a bunch of policemen to “break the heads” of the protesting farmers.
The Khattar Government has so far refused to “suspend” the officer though he has been “shifted” to another place – that’s all the “punishment” for wanting to see “heads broken and bleeding”. The question is, can an IAS officer of the type and temperament of Ayush Sinha — for whom “breaking heads” is part and parcel of everyday order — be allowed to wield indiscriminate power, have the run of the reign anywhere he is stationed?
Tomorrow he could order similar action against protesting students or agitating women, exactly like the Taliban enforcers in Afghanistan. Frankly speaking, IAS Ayush Sinha is the nearest “thing” to a Taliban let loose in the streets of Kabul. Sinha may not brandish a gun, but he’ll command a posse of armed policemen. Is Ayush Sinha the tip of the “Talibanization” of the Indian bureaucracy?
Scarier is that while “suspending” is not on the cards of the laconic Khattar Government, Ayush Sinha has the IAS Association’s back! That points to a wider and larger “Talibanization” of the higher bureaucracy in states ruled by a party which prides itself for running double-engine governments.
Not long ago, in May of this year, an IAS officer in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh was “removed” from his post by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel for “slapping” a youth in full public view for a perceived wrong. The Chief Minister himself came on record against the IAS officer’s high-handedness.
In BJP-ruled Haryana, IAS Ayush Sinha lines up a bunch of Haryana Police personnel and asks them to break the “heads of farmers”. It’s an open and shut case and yet the Chief Minister digs his head in the sand and refuses to take any action against the offending officer.
In an ideal world, Ayush Sinha would have gone through the bureaucratic grinder. But it isn’t an ideal world in BJP-ruled Haryana. In any case, Sinha’s intended victims were against the policies of the government of the day, therefore, fit to have their heads bashed in!
It was entirely appropriate for IAS Ayush Sinha to go the whole hog. After all, Sinha was only trying to please his political masters – asking men under his command to break the heads of farmers on the warpath! It’s a cinch there’s more IAS like Sinha. The trick is to not get caught – and Sinha got caught!
Fact is Ayush Sinha was emboldened because he knew that so long he isn’t caught committing a wrong, the state government will stand by him. If the political masters themselves are beyond redemption, willing to look the other way, people like Ayush Sinha will be safe and secure. The Ayush Sinhas of our bureaucracy would always have an ugly nexus with politicians.
The irony is we are blasting the “Taliban” for bashing in the heads of Afghanistan’s hapless, and here in India we’re saddled with governments unwilling to take action against an IAS officer calmly asking police to break heads and make people bleed because the people are against a particular piece of government legislation.
The farmers’ agitation is not going to stop. The other day BJP MP of Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, Virendra Singh Mast, said that under no circumstances would the three farm laws be repealed, arguing that laws are not passed in Parliament to be withdrawn at the first sign of opposition. Now, it’s left to Uttar Pradesh to turn the tide. If Yogi Adityanath is defeated, that’ll be half the battle won. The other half will have to wait till 2024. Till then, there will always be Ayush Sinhas ready and willing to order heads to be bashed in, bleed! (IPA Service)