2. Kanishk, an IAS officer, is posted as the SDM in a remote district of West Bengal. The district has a substantial minority population and has had a sensitive past marked with instances of communal discord and tensions. This year, there is another challenge that needs to be tackled by Kanishk. A prominent festival of the majority community is clashing with the annual religious rally of the minorities. The majority community wants the district administration to cancel or postpone the rally of the minorities. The minority community, on the other hand, is not ready to cancel or postpone their event. Keeping in mind the history of his district, Kanishk is fearful of the consequences that might occur in the event of a clash between the two communities. Meanwhile, the issue has gained political colour also. The local MP who belongs to the minority community is pressurising you to make special arrangements for the rally. On the other hand, the state leadership is asking you to make sure that the majority community is able to celebrate their festival without any disturbance.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that the streets in the city aren’t large enough to accommodate large crowds. Moreover, there are many miscreants who are notorious for taking advantage of the tensions and might flare up the communal discord.
How can Kanishk deal with this problem?What are the alternatives available to him? Which one should he choose and why? Examine.
In a country like India characterised by a number of religious, ethnic, language and caste divisions, the administration is regularly confronted with large-scale protests, riots and incidents of mass civil disorder. The present situation clearly demonstrates such a potential scenario where Kanishk needs to deal with it effectively while showing neutrality and commitment to law and order of the area in an impartial manner at the same time successfully fulfilling both the communities legitimate needs.
- Being an SDM of the area, it is important for Kanishk to work in a team with all the other departments of the government, for example- police department, for successfully fulfilling his duty. While ensuring peaceful conduct of involved parties, Kanishk also needs to manage the pressure from political sides to ensure cooperation of all and impartiality of conduct.
In this regard, Kanishk has the following alternatives:
- Succumb to the state leadership pressure and allow the majority community to celebrate their festival while cancelling the minority community rally to avoid clashes and communal flare up.
- Follow the local MP’s pressure to provide special arrangements for the rally while curbing the majority community celebrations which will help in maintaining peace and law and order of the region.
- Make strict arrangements for security of the area while allowing both communities to celebrate their festivals but ensuring different timings for both to avoid clashes and involving community leaders of both the communities.
From the above alternatives, Kanishk should follow the III alternative as it is the most viable, unbiased, neutral and effective measure in controlling the given situation.
- The area having a history of communal discord is an important aspect which should be considered by Kanishk. In this regard, requesting extra forces in the area to avoid any toward incident can be the first step to the selected step.
- Further, convening a meeting of the community leaders and stressing them the need to maintain communal harmony in times of celebration to avoid further discord should be done in collaboration with the police department.
- Requesting the police for preventive custody of the miscreants in the area to avoid untoward incidents in the narrow lanes can be helpful.
- Along with these measures, Kanishk can ensure widespread awareness campaigns throughout the area with the help of schools and NGOs to further create buffer against violence. Kanishk can lead from the front in these efforts.
These measures would ensure incident free conduit of the celebrations of both communities without any acrimony between the two communities. Also, it would also mean fulfilling the constitutional duties and Kanishk’s duties as citizen as well as an officer.
The false notions of communal honour and pride are so deep rooted that people even forget the social bonds of love and emotions with their own fellow citizens. Thus, the attitudinal change programmes must target the revival of social bonds and realizing them about the need to give respect to human lives and compassion which every religion aspires towards and the role of Kanishk will be crucial in this regard.