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Vienna burns Punjab

By Deepak Nagpal | Last Updated: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - 08:50
Deepak Nagpal
The Wanderer

Anyone reading this title out of context would surely ask: “How can the Austrian capital located thousands of miles away from Punjab ‘burn’ the northern Indian state?” Well, it surely can.

This is what the unruly mobs ransacking public as well as private property, torching buses, trucks and trains, terrifying unsuspecting passengers on National Highways through the state, proved beginning Sunday night, hours after clashes at a Gurudwara in Vienna.

While a visiting guru of a Dalit sect was killed and another injured in the violence at the Vienna Gurudwara, three people have already died and scores injured back in India, not to mention the damage to the property that runs into millions.

What is it in us Indians that we can’t protest peacefully with our ‘commonsense’ intact. Killing people here for a crime committed by ‘still-unknown’ people in another country is completely mindless.

Instead of protesting and demanding the Central government to pressurise the Austrian authorities to catch the culprits and punish them, people (or we say, alleged supporters of the sect) here went on a rampage, holding the state to ransom for the next one-and-a-half-day.

Thousands of road and rail passengers were left stranded in and outside the state due to the curfew imposed in the wake of the widespread violence.

The BBC even called it ‘riots’ – what must the world be thinking about us Indians. Rarely do we see such kind of reaction around the world – no true citizen starts putting “his house and property” (I mean his own country and its property) on fire in response to something that has happened in another country.

The anger is justified, but not the reaction. There are ways to protest, starting with the peaceful ones. If one fails to get a proper hearing or justice despite trying hard, only then a violent protest can be remotely termed as justified (though not legally, still).

However, straightaway setting everything that comes our way on fire is not the proper way to come out on the streets and show anger. Such people better be shown the stick right away and put behind bars.

The National Security Act would be put to good use if it is applied to these unruly, uncivilised people too. Hefty fines should also be imposed on such goondas to compensate for the damage caused by them.

When incidents like these happen, I am made to feel that we have begun taking our democracy for granted. The fear that a dictatorship instils in the common masses, is needed in our country too to help civilise people.

First Published: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 - 08:50

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