Sunday, January 03, 2010

Save us from this recurring mindless violence, please

Save us from this recurring mindless violence, please
H S BALRAM


We saw it happen when the legendary Rajkumar passed away in 2006. We saw it again as another legend, Vishnuvardhan, left us. Bangalore is held to ransom by miscreants, who mingle with mourning fans to indulge in vandalism on such occasions. Panic grips the city. Life comes to a standstill. Fear keeps citizens indoors. Shops down shutters. Mourning gets overshadowed by mob frenzy, mindless violence, loss of lives, injuries to many, and huge damage to public property. Why is Bangalore allowed to be taken over by hoodlums?
Both the legends were loved and revered by millions of Kannadigas. They were versatile actors, huge icons, and above all good human beings. Through their films, they promoted peace and harmony. Would they have approved of such mob frenzy? Their fans certainly felt orphaned. Agreed, not everyone got a chance to have a last glimpse of their icons, given the huge numbers. But was that the way to mourn great souls? Blocking roads. Torching vehicles. Stoning buildings. Attacking the police and mediapersons, who had to do their job. And not allowing near and dear ones of the departed souls to mourn in solitude.
Mob psychology is said to be irrational and emotional. Yet the violence that we witnessed on these two occasions will have few parallels. For, an identifiable cause or enemy was apparently absent. Some may say that such acts of violence are a means of letting out other frustrations. But many don’t buy this theory. The truth is that miscreants often take advantage of emotional outbursts by grieving fans, mix with them and indulge in mindless acts. Sadly, the fans do not realize this. Result: innocents suffer.
What about the role of the police? Apparently, they haven’t evolved a good strategy to deal with such situations. Neither have they learned from past incidents. Merely deploying personnel in huge numbers isn’t enough. A plan of action is vital. Where should the body be kept for public viewing? Is the place big enough to accommodate surging masses? How about erecting sufficient barricades and forming queues at four corners to maintain order? How to handle VIPs and close family members? How to identify miscreants in the crowd and whisk them away?
Another drawback on the part of the police and the political class is inaction against miscreants involved in such violence. After Rajkumar’s death, several persons were caught on camera lynching policemen, attacking innocents, burning vehicles and damaging public property. Everyone saw the ugly drama on TV. The culprits could be easily identified. But no action was taken against them. Bangalore burned for days. The case was closed one fine day saying it was just an emotional outburst.
Doesn’t this embolden the culprits? Won’t they do it again and again? They did it after Vishnuvardhan’s death. We can be sure, no one will be caught or punished this time too. Once the euphoria dies down, the police will go into a slumber, only to wake up after another mob frenzy breaks out. Isn’t it time that those at the helm put their heads together and took a tough stand against such recurrences? And spared Bangalore of frequent shocks. Otherwise, people will lose faith in the system.

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