Planned mischief

Planned mischief

The Maharashtra government has ordered an inquiry to find out whether the violence that rocked parts of Mumbai on Saturday was spontaneous or preplanned. There are clear indications that some planning had gone into the riots because some places other than Mumbai, like Pune and Andhra Pradesh, also saw some trouble. SMS messages had also been circulating before the trouble broke out. The riots grew out of a protest staged by some Muslim organisations to express solidarity with the victims of recent violence in Assam and Myanmar. There were intelligence reports on the brewing situation but they did not capture its full gravity. The police forces which were deployed were also found inadequate to cope with the trouble in some areas. It is unfortunate that the law enforcement machinery is unable to deal with a situation even when there is advance information about trouble.

Among the protesters in Mumbai were fundamentalist elements who exploited the occasion by making provocative speeches and goading mobs to violence. Though the situation was brought under control before spreading far and wide, it did much damage and resulted in the death of two persons. Some policemen who were injured in the attack are still in a critical condition. Public property and media came under attack. It was fortunate that Mumbai, which has seen serious communal eruptions in the past, was spared of more serious trouble this time. Protests to express solidarity with victims of persecution or violence are not uncommon and are in order too. But they should not degenerate into mob violence and riots. Those with vested interests and mischief on their minds exploit the situation and create a greater sense of insecurity. The result is that the entire society suffers and becomes more divided and disrupted.

Strong action should be taken against  those who inspired and created trouble. It is now known that outsiders armed with weapons  had infiltrated the demonstrators’ ranks and set off the violence. The groups which organised the protest have apologised for the violence. The lesson is that a protest over an emotive issue can turn incendiary if organisers do not have complete control over it. Governments and community organisations in all  parts of the country should exercise extra vigil to ensure that there are no further repercussions of the incidents in Assam or Mumbai. 

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