Monday, October 1, 2007

SC vs. DMK - A bandh call, legal or illegal?


It hurts to see a state government and the judiciary at logger heads with each other. This is what is happening because of the stand taken by M. Karunanidhi, the Chief minister of Tamilnadu and the veteran leader of the DMK over the Sethusamundaram project. It all started after the Archaelogical survey of India (ASI) filed an affidavit on Ram Setu (Ram Setu or Adam's bridge is believed to be a bridge made by Lord Rama to cross over to Lanka in his efforts to rescue his wife Sita). The ASI questioned the very existence of Ram in it's affidavit. This prompted a huge backlash from BJP. After all Ram had helped them gain power. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad too came out strongly against the affidavit. They strongly opposed the affidavit filed by the ASI. The UPA government withdrew the affidavit immediately as it hurt the religious sentiments and faith of the Hindus.

But the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu continued to question the existence of Ram. He went to the extent of saying that was Ram an engineer and if yes from which college he completed his engineering course to have built such a bridge. This statement was totally uncalled for from a person holding a high post of that of a Chief Minister. His personal beliefs on the existence of Ram cannot be imposed on the larger Hindu population who strongly believes in his existence. Will the DMK chief ever dare to make a similar statement questioning the existence of Mohammad Paigambar or Lord Jesus Christ? No, he won't.

Whether Ram existed or not is something that cannot be proved. But then there are many things in this world that is believed to have existed and not proved to have existed. Even many scientific beliefs are based on so many theories. Theories may not be true. They too are assumptions made by scientists. They believe that the theories are true. If you ask those scientists to prove that they are true they may not be able to do so.

The BJP leaders and M. Karunanidhi had verbal duels over this issue. BJP office was ransacked by DMK supporters. M. Karunanidhi decided to call for a Tamilnadu bandh on 1st of October, 2007. The AIADMK headed by J. Jaylalitha went to the High court first. The High Court did not take exception to the Bandh. Then the AIADMK approached the apext court (Supreme Court) on Saturday. In a special hearing held on Sunday, the Supreme court declared the Bandh as illegal. However, the CM of Tamilnadu decided to go on a hunger strike from dawn to dusk. The people are confused as to venture out or not. It is still a bandh like situation. The SC has now asked the Centre why Presidential rule cannot be imposed based on the stand taken by M. Karunanidhi.

A more rational approach M. Karunanidhi could have taken would have been to make a statement saying that if Ram would have existed today, he too would have supported destruction of the bridge if it would have been a hindrance to development. Though I personally feel that if there is an alternative way that ensures that both religious sentiments and development is not adversely affected, we should go for it.

A bandh is not the right way to protest. Anything that affects normal life adversely cannot be considered legal. Common people have to suffer because of bandhs or hartals. The state of Kerala is the best example where people have to suffer a lot because of hartals called by one political party or the other. I compare bandh and hartal calls to kidnapping or hijacking. It is like holding someone captive to demand something. In other words, a bandh and hartal call can and should be equated to terrorism.
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