Rights Cannot Be Won Through Riots but Governance Should Have a Human Face

To fight for one’s right is a fundamental right in a democratic society while these rights are the pillars of a functional democracy and are guaranteed by the constitution of a country. India and the US are known as vibrant democracies in the world. While India is rated as the largest democracy, the US is identified as one of the oldest democracies among the world nations.

Riots are the result of collective and unruly fights. Though India is known for riots even for a slightest provocation, it is unfortunate that the US, a relatively organized society, has seen the worst rioting last week in a long time. There is a fundamental difference in rioting in India and the US. While riots are racial in nature in the US, they are mostly communal in India.

US President Donald Trump while physically present in India in February, some parts of Delhi suffered. While an agitation can be spontaneous without any preparation on an issue, riots are always well planned and organized. Often an agitation turns violent because of mob frenzy. But some groups with certain pre-planning and preparation, wait for a trouble to crop up between two groups or more over an issue or issues and jump into the bandwagon. If the fighting groups belong to different religions the fights among them turn into violent riots. In a situation of that nature, some anti-social elements also take advantage of it and start looting and destroying private and public properties.

A mob rioting that broke out in the north-east Delhi on February 25 is understandably preplanned and timed to happen while a foreign dignitary like the US President was in town. But the US rioting in the US seems to be spontaneous, though the racial discord does exist between the Whites and Blacks.

Ankit Sharma, an intelligence bureau staffer, was killed by the mob during February riots in Delhi when groups supporting and opposing the Citizens Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens clashed with each other for close to three days leading to at least 53 deaths.

Earlier, though notably the US — the Land of Immigrants — had not explicitly exhibited any racial differences between the Whites and South Asians, after the 9/11 incident, it had started surfacing now and then in some pockets of the country, due to the physical resemblance between South Asians and Osama bin Laden. But the US has taken concerted efforts to educate the Americans, particularly the law enforcing agencies, about the different races and religions that exist in South Asian countries.

The present riots broke out in the US as a result of an unfortunate incident of custodial death in Minneapolis. Though the crime was yet to be tried and confirmed, African-American George Floyd became a victim of the brutality of a White police officer. The Minneapolis police officers on May 25 arrested George Floyd, after a deli employee called 911, accusing him of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad cars arrived at the scene, George Floyd was apprehended. He became unconscious and showed no sign of life, when he was pinned beneath the knees of a police officer.

Police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second degree manslaughter. He was accused of ignoring another officer, who expressed concerns about George Floyd as he lay handcuffed on the ground pleading that he could not breathe as Derek Chauvin pressed his knees on the neck of George Floyd.

This “brutality” had outraged thousands of people in several cities of the US. Protestors in Minneapolis set fire to a police station and went on a rampage. Angry demonstrators burnt police vehicles in other places, set fire to properties and looted shops and malls. They carried placards saying “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe.” The US had not seen such a wild reaction, public outrage and mass destruction in the recent past. The agitation also spread beyond the US boundaries to London, Paris, Spain, Brazil and other countries.

The intensity of people’s anger was so outrageous that mobs surrounded the White House, making Donald Trump to go briefly in to the underground bunker there. Subsequently, in a stern warning, he asked the Governors of the states to take action to quell the violence, failing which he would order Nation Guards and security forces to take charge of the situation.

There is a growing trend of intolerance among people everywhere across the world placated by inappropriate handling of the situations of law and order leading to violation of human rights. However, the US incident has left an indelible scar on the US policing. Happening in an election year, it is essential US President Donald Trump has to administer a shock treatment to the law and order machinery, undertake damage control exercise to infuse confidence on his governance in order to brighten his prospects for a second term. No doubt, rights cannot be won by riots but governance should have a human face.

– Contributed by Mr. J.V. Laskshmana Rao, a former National News Coordinator of Express News Service, New Delhi, and former Chief Editor of US-based India Tribune. He frequently travels between India and the US.

Picture Credits: / AP Photo / Alex Brandon

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