As I write this piece on the ongoing violence in Panchkula and adjoining areas that has gripped two states after fraudulent baba Ram Rahim was pronounced guilty in a 15-year-old rape case, my eyes are glued to my TV, trying to follow the turn of violent incidents and analyse the happenings.
Whatever is surfacing on TV is nothing but a sheer failure of the Haryana administration. It's also reminiscent of last year's Jat reservation riots that brought great disrepute to one of the most progressive states of the country. Then, the police were just onlookers as vehicles were burnt and rioters had a field day. The police literally abandoned their posts.
Former DG police Prakash Singh enquired into the lapses and barring the suspension of few low-ranking officers, the establishment remained the same in terms of quality and content.
In other words, no lessons learnt and, therefore, today we have a repeat performance of the poor governance witnessed more than a year ago.
It's more than evident today that there is no administration, no governance worth a name in the state of Haryana. At least it's not visible. TV anchors have been trying to talk to Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on the disturbances, but no luck as OB vans, government offices and railway stations continue to bear the brunt of arson and vandalism.
A segment of the security forces on the ground was seen fleeing as tear gassing was at its peak. Political leadership is known to normally vanish from the sight during such law and order exigencies but where was the police leadership? They are meant to lead from the front.
The rank and file of the large Haryana police force didn't seem to rise to the occasion. What has happened to them? What are the young crop of IPS officers in Haryana and adjacent states learning from their seniors? Such occurrences are training grounds for the police irrespective of rank. Opportunities are missed time and again to ensure effective preventive action.
It is important to apportion blame to Punjab too, but it looks like there is a major administrative failure on part of Haryana. Why did intelligence fail at the local level? The conviction was anticipated and so was the violent reaction.
There was no preventive action when the crowd started swelling near the CBI court in Panchkula. There is no plausible answer for the inaction. It was left unheeded and the crowd assumed monstrous proportions and, eventually, at least 30 lives have been lost and several injured. This was certainly avoidable.
Political leadership is known to normally vanish from the sight during such law and order exigencies but where was the police leadership? Photo: Reuters
The overconfidence of Haryana government officers has also been exposed. Till this morning, they kept saying that "all was under control". How could they be so wide off the mark? Their experience proved completely amateurish in this critical scenario. The CM does not seem to have any priority to ensure law and order. The results are evidently catastrophic.
If the news is correct, miscreants arrested are lodged at a Rohtak jail. Rohtak that is very much in the heart of Haryana and any spark may prove volatile for the already charged atmosphere prevailing in the state.
With repeated law and order failures in this progressive state, Haryana has steadily started losing its reputation as the granary of India, as an industrial hub or the epicentre of progress. It is doubtful if fresh investors will be forthcoming in this state that has failed the nation and the state's people, and that too miserably. And it has failed on all counts.
As immediate damage control, a full-fledged administrative overhaul is called for, which needs to be seen to be believed.
The state needs to do something substantial and go beyond catching a pound of beef or alleged cow smugglers.
My statement is apolitical, made purely from the security and law and order point of view. Hope the state wakes up and shakes off its lingering inertia.
Meanwhile, anger amongst the general public in Haryana and Punjab will fuel further amid the splashing of footage that Gurmeet Ram Rahim - the rape convict, was carried like a VVIP in a luxury chopper. It was certainly avoidable.