Thursday, September 06, 2018

Can politicians in India get away with murder?

On Monday, a Tamil Nadu based research scholar Lois Sophia was arrested at the Tuticorin airport. Her crime? Shouting “down with Modi, BJP-RSS fascist government” to BJP’s Tamil Nadu President Tamilisai Soundararajan on a flight.  Sofia was arrested after the plane landed in Tuticorin and Ms. Soundararajan filed a complaint with the airport police. Sofia has been charged with creating “public nuisance” and “attempt to cause alarm”. Though she was released on bail the very next day, she had to spend a night in jail.
This incident takes me back to the not-so-distant memory of a similar incident from 2017. In March last year, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad assaulted an Air India official inside the flight after his plane landed the Delhi airport. He not only heckled the Air India official but also hit him with his chappal and without a bit of remorse even boasted about it on the TV channels. However, within a week the travel ban imposed on him after the incident was revoked.

When both the incidents are compared to the same parameter, the irony glares us straight in the face. It poses some important questions in front of us- why should Sophia be put in jail while politicians like Gaikwad having committed crime of a greater degree are let off?  Is degree or severity of an offense differs for politicians and for citizens? Was Sophia shouting “Fascist BJP” was an offense more serious than that of Gaikwad hitting the Airline staffer?  Are there different standards for our politicians? Does being a politician bestow them with privileges that differentiate between them and a common man? Can our politicians get away with crimes, which if committed by the common people can lead to grave punishment in the rule of law? Can our politicians get away with a crime as serious as murder as well?
06/09/18 Arti Ghargi/HW News Network

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