Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Telangana 68: Democracy in Crisis?
It took hundreds of years of human struggle and strife to bring in a type of government where a common man got his freedoms, became a citizen, and actually had a say in the politics. Democracy is a fragile institution, which can easily slip into autocracy in times of insecurity or weakness. It takes lot of strength to keep it going, not succumbing to easy methods of imposing military or police rule at the first sign of trouble. Countries like China suppress people’s voices and freedom with use of force, armies and tanks, like in Tiananmen Square, killing innocents who protest. They jail everyone who speaks of freedom on the charges of sedition.
Back in 1969, during Telangana agitation, the government imposed a media blackout, brought troops into the region, jailed nearly 70,000 people, injured nearly 15,000 people, and killed 370 people. Not very different from how China treats its people. Clearly, a democracy has tendencies to become autocratic when it has to face tough questions that come out of democratic aspirations of its people. Those are the times when the nation suffers from insecurities, of egos, of prejudices, and weaknesses.
Andhra Pradesh government is now imposing additional 50 companies of paramilitary forces in the state, most of them in the region of Telangana, getting ready to forcibly control the people’s agitations that may arise after contents of SriKrishna Committee report are disclosed.
For the first time in the history of Andhra Pradesh, an IPS officer could be the VC of Osmania University. A former Director General of Police (DGP), Swaranjit Sen, is tipped to become new Vice Chancellor of the Osmania University. He is known to have earlier dealt with the Maoists in the state with an “iron hand”. Not only that, the state government is also planning to appoint an IPS officer as the Vice Chancellor of Kakatiya University in Warangal.
Starting December 31, 2010, words like “waging a civil war” or “state will become a battle field” will be banned in the state, according to DGP, K Aravind Rao. Speaking in Ongole, he told the media that those who use these words will be immediately arrested and ‘cases of sedition’ will be booked against them.
So what is happening in Telangana now? Are we creating an autocracy? Is democracy in crisis in Telangana?
Already the people of Telangana feel they are not represented in the state of Andhra Pradesh. They do not think or believe that this government which is ruling them is theirs. They seek a separate state, something which was guaranteed to them by the Home Minister of this country, a year ago. Now, each of its democratic institutions is being meticulously broken down to pave way for an autocracy, rule of police and military. Is this the dream that our freedom fighters gave us when they fought the British? Is it the freedoms that we guarantee our citizens of this country? Are we becoming a weak and insecure state? These are serious questions, which are not just relevant to Telangana, but to entire nation and its people.