WION Edit: Citizenship Amendment Act - absolute power comes with responsibility

WION Delhi Dec 20, 2019, 02.48 PM(IST)

File photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP National President Amit Shah. Photograph:( PTI )

Story highlights

Government should wait for the SC hearing, allow peaceful protests, prevent violence, and most importantly, address the concerns of the people.

Tackling violence with an iron hand is a necessity, but what explains stifling peaceful civil disobedience? It's time for the government to realise that with absolute majority comes more responsibility.

The ruling party was called the master of communication, they aced social media, they were on top of the curve when it came to digital messaging.

And now their government is failing to quell a protest that is spreading through social media. So what do they do? Shut the Internet?

Section 144 of the criminal procedure code is being imposed and implemented in various cities where protests are being held against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The government has a mandate to enact and pass laws - even controversial ones - but, if government agencies stifle peaceful protests, then it betrays their lack of confidence.

On WION Edit, we discuss why this isn't just about a bill anymore. There is a much bigger issue to be addressed.

It's important to address the issue of illegal migrants in India. But the absolute majority should not allow a government to force a law, whose constitutional validity is now sub-judice and suppress any opposition to the law.

If people protest a controversial law in a peaceful manner, what is the problem? Why should civil disobedience warrant the arrest of scholars? Should the government stifle the voices of protesters or listen to them? 

The government is losing control on the narrative. Even its traditional supporters in the civil society are calling this move the proverbial last straw.

So what should the government do? After all, it got the Bill cleared in Parliament with the due procedure. It should wait for the Supreme Court hearing, allow peaceful protests, prevent violence, and most importantly, address the concerns of the people.

It will help in two ways:

 1. Shed the perception that the government is partial and muscular.

2. Send out a strong message on the health of our democracy to the people of India and the rest of the world.

It should be reiterated that the levers of Indian democracy are thriving and well oiled and the judiciary will decide on constitutional matters.

The government's brazen and aggressive posturing on CAA has attracted criticism even external players are exploiting the situation to peddle lies about India.

The government can solve this by allowing, ensuring and facilitating peaceful protests. 

The absolute majority may allow governments to pass laws, but implementation can only be achieved with public participation.

The people of India voted the BJP back to power in May 2019 with overwhelming numbers. However, a big mandate does not mean absolute power - if anything - it means more responsibility.

If some citizens want to register dissent, then a responsible government should allow such protests. Dissent is good for democracy, to gag these voices sets us on a dangerous path. This country was founded upon and has been built on civil disobedience.

And remember, Section 144 of the CRPC is not a tool of suppression of dissent. It is meant to be used when there is an emergency situation. Let there be calm, let there be peaceful protests.

There's a thin line between being decisive and being dictatorial. The government must ensure it's not crossing that line.

(Disclaimer: WION Edit is the channel's take on the big events of the world)