As the Shiv Sena stokes the fires of communalism, parochialism and other uglisms, Shahrukh Khan remains unfazed.
Siddharth Varadarajan writes
When confronted by the mob power of the Shiv Sena, MNS or other right-wing groups, the police in India invariably give in to their demands, no matter how irrational or unreasonable, and force the targets of their illegal pressure to give up their rights. So art galleries anywhere in India think once, twice and a hundred times before exhibiting a single painting by M.F. Hussain, movie hall owners agonise over whether to show ‘controversial’ films or not, screenplay writers and movie directors allow politicians, pundits, granthis and maulvis to vet their projects before they are launched, scholarly works of history are banned because their contents do not conform with the cherished hagiography of some group or sect, writers like Taslima Nasrin are hounded out of the country by mobs who claim to have been offended by books they have never read, shops fear to stock Valentine cards because of threats by self-appointed guardians of morality and ‘Indian culture’.
To me this is a law and order issue. Regardless of whether the protesters are right or wrong, if they go from protesting to rioting and arson, the police must act swiftly and decisively.
In India this is not as simple an issue as it might seem like. There are too many people, typically unemployed youth, who will gladly participate in a riot for the money. If the risk of being injured in a lathi charge goes up, all that will change is the asking rate for a rioter.
But letting the rioters destroy public and private property is just not an option. It subverts our freedoms and creates an alternate extra-governmental power center. Don’t feed the beast.