A woman and children crouched on the floor of the GD Goenka World School bus
A woman and children crouched on the floor of the GD Goenka World School bus, as a mob protesting against the film 'Padmaavat' threw stones at their bus in Gurugram on Wednesday | Youtube video grab by Rock Bottom
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Home minister Rajnath Singh insists law & order is a ‘state subject’. But Centre has let off Haryana for worse while pulling up other states for less.

New Delhi: A group of people opposing the release of Padmaavat attacked a school bus with 25 to 30 children on board, torched vehicles, and vandalised public property in Gurugram, a few kilometres from the national capital.

But the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has so far not sought a report from the Haryana government explaining the lapse in law enforcement despite the widespread outrage over the incident. Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, in fact, dodged the question, calling it a “state subject”.

An MHA spokesperson told ThePrint that the ministry intervenes only when the state either requires logistical support in terms of forces to control the situation, or it is a case of communal violence with repercussions across the country.

“Maintaining law and order is a state subject. The Centre does not intervene until the state asks for help. If the state is incapable of handling the situation, it will contact the Centre; else, it is not accountable. In this case too, it is a state subject, so it is for the state to handle,” an MHA official said.

He added that the Centre need not seek a report from the state to keep itself updated on the situation. “The central government has the Intelligence Bureau, which keeps it updated on the happenings across the country. The IB keeps a track on everything and compiles a status report, which is then shared with the government. So, it is not that the government ignores or overlooks any situation; it intervenes only when it is deemed fit and absolutely required.”

One state, many incidents

But this is not the first time that the central government has ignored BJP-rule Haryana’s failure to deal with sensitive law enforcement situations.

In August last year, 34 people were killed and several injured as the government failed to control the violence by supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh after his conviction in a rape case. No formal report was sought from Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Similarly, poor security arrangements during the Jat protests for quotas in 2016 left over 30 people dead, but the Centre did not intervene.

Is the trouble in Haryana being overlooked yet again, as some critics allege, because it is a BJP-ruled state? Or is the Centre holding back because it feels the situation is not precarious?

Other states

For comparison, here are a few instances of violence where MHA intervened:

Bhima-Koregaon violence: Violence erupted in Pune district in early January when Dalit groups were celebrating the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, in which the forces of the British East India Company defeated the Peshwa’s army. There were clashes between upper castes and Dalits, allegedly at the behest of some Right-wing groups.

Soon after, a Maharashtra bandh was called. The MHA then sought a fact-finding report from the state government.

Murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh: In September last year, the Home minister asked the Congress government of Karnataka to submit a report on the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, which had sparked protests.

The minister had directed Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to get a report on the incident, and steps taken to arrest the culprits.

Communal clashes in West Bengal: In July last year, violence was reported from large parts of the North 24 Parganas district after a derogatory post on Prophet Muhammad was uploaded by a 17-year-old student of Baduria. Rajnath Singh asked West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee for a detailed report on communal clashes in towns near Kolkata.

Mandsaur unrest: In June last year, at least five farmers were killed and several injured in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh, when police fired on protesters demanding better prices in the drought-affected region.

Farmers stopped vehicles carrying milk and vegetables, poured milk on the roads and threw away vegetables as a mark of protest.

Soon after, Rajnath Singh asked Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to take strict action against those spreading unrest, and also sought a report from the state government.

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