Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face?

“A 400-strong mob, protesting against the East Central Railways move to discontinue the New Delhi-Rajgir Shramjivi Express’s stop at Khusrupur station in Danapur Division, and set ablaze six passenger coaches on two trains, the Danapur-Jainagar Intercity Express and the Rajgir-Danapur passenger, and ransacked and torched the station.

At least 30 passengers were injured in the stampede as they rushed out of the burning station.

The Railways rolled back the order and restored the stop.

The air-conditioned coach of Danapur-Darbhanga Intercity Express was set on fire at Fathua station near Patna. People were angry that the Shramajivi Express would no longer halt at other stations.

However Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee has denied that she ordered the cancellation of the halts.

Destroying public property in general, and torching trains in particular, has become an accepted form of protest in India.

Just a few days ago, there were protests in Punjab and some parts of Haryana “after Sant Ramanand of Dera Sachkhand, injured in an attack in Vienna on Sunday, died in hospital.

“Angry Dera followers took to the streets, torching at least 11 train coaches and an engine, stoning buses, blocking traffic and clashing with police at several places.”

In October last yearthere were violent protests in Bihar against the killing of Pavan Kumar, who was brutally assaulted by MNS activists.”

Two bogies of a train – reportedly with Maharashtrian passengers on board – two bogies of Vikramshila Express were set on fire in Barh area of Bihar.

Thankfully no one was injured.

While no one can dispute the Right to Protest of the people in a Democracy, must it always take the form of destruction of public property? Since public property belongs to all of us, are we not in effect, cutting off our own nose to spite our face?

Perhaps we can put in place a system whereby an large empty ground outside every major city would be set aside for protests.

We could have actual-sized cardboard models of trains placed there. Protesters would be allowed to set them on fire.

They could shout and curse. They could burn effigies of whichever political figures they liked.

And then, their anger spent, they could return home without having destroyed Lakhs of Rupees worth of public property.

This plan, or any other similar one should be put into place as early as possible.

Otherwise the wilful destruction of public property- in effect, our own property, belonging to the people of India- will continue.

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21 thoughts on “Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face?”

  1. What a brilliant idea !! Every town to have a large model of a town in the outskirts ! Fantastic. And we have enough run down trains to be used here..!And people will go here and burn up whatever is left of them !! Ha ha !! And all this burning is in your and my money’s name ! What crap.And Mamta Banerjee is reported to have said ‘she forgives these people’. Yes sure. This is personal property and forgivness is a divine right. Esp so, when you can only gain a vote.

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  2. So true!! We certainly seem to be resorting to violence and destruction of public property at the drop of a hat! ‘Perhaps we can put in place a system whereby an large empty ground outside every major city would be set aside for protests.We could have actual-sized cardboard models of trains placed there. Protesters would be allowed to set them on fire.They could shout and curse. They could burn effigies of whichever political figures they liked.’ Yes,probably that is what is needed!!! I just don’t understand the logic, or probably there is no logic.. it is just a bunch of uneducated people who have been instigated to protest in this manner.. And in all probablity, these might be full of unemployed youth who is easy to rouse and have little contribution to public property, by way of taxes to realise the effect of their actions…

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  3. The Supreme cpourt has said that those who burn their brides for dowry should be hanged.In myopinion,similar punishment must be given to all those who destroy and burn public property.

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  4. The country is the same, the people are the same, but today, the behaviour is vastly different. Its a reflection of the very goonda type leaders that we have managed to develop, who set this as an example. How come Bihar always has something to do with running the railways. First Nitish, then Lalu. Mamta is from bengal, but she “forgives”…..I can see every town having to compulsorily have , what might be called a “temper park”; burn things, tear things, practice throwing of shoes, you can have effigy making classes, lathi dodging practice ; the list is endless. Have we really developed or have we become like a spoiled, stubborn child ?

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  5. Kavi- Yes, run down trains would be even better than cardboard models! Smitha- “it is just a bunch of uneducated people who have been instigated to protest in this manner.. ” Very possible. They may not even know what they are protesting about!BK Chowla- Severe punishment would probably not be possible in such cases, but some punishment should be given…

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  6. Ugich Konitari- I read somewhere that in ‘the old days’ queens used to have “Krodhagars”- special rooms where they used to go and sit when they were angry. Like the “temper Park” you have suggested!:)

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  7. I think what has happened over the years is that ordinary people have realised, thanks to irresponsible political leaders who first showed them this path, that the only way to get the government to move quickly to meet a demand is by this kind of coercion. It works every time, almost.This raises an important question. It is evident the a lot of decisions are taken very callously without carefully factoring in expected public response, whether genuine or instigated. A little sensitivity and possibly prior discussions with those who are affected can often work wonders. When a facility that has been given is sought to be withdrawn, this is all the more required. If this basic thing is known to decision makers out of long experience, then why are they taken by surprise every time?I think exemplary punishment needs to be given to railway officials who suddenly implemented this change that unexpectedly disrupted people’s lives, without giving them any opportunity to re-organise it.I fully share your anger at the way various groups have been vandalising public property. If it has to be stopped, first all politicians have to lead the way by ensuring that, no matter what the issue, they will not tolerate any such behaviour by their followers. Will that happen? Will anyone do a Gandhi who called off the Quit India movement after there was violence? The answer is a clear no. That being so, the only way to reduce such incidents is have greater public participation in decisions that affect them directly.

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  8. This is a comment by Radha of http://mommyliciousma.blogspot.com/ -We are a nation of people that have total disregard for public property. We keep our houses clean and throw the rubbish on the streets, pan spit is seen on the walls of office complexes, graffiti all over on heritage sites. Who is there to enforce law? Kiran Bedi rightly said on a TV show that had any police office ordered firing or taken any action to disperse the crowd yesterday, then they would have had to face suspension, and so they prefer to look the other way… And all this resulting in destruction of good tax payers money. (She could not post here so she e-mailed me)

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  9. echo all the words of Vinod Sir..there is something seriously wrong with us..burning,destroying public property seems to be the only way known to us as a nation to get our demands heard/to vent out all our frustration and anger…there should be strict punishment for such people who get away because they are a part of a mob

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  10. Vinodji, Indyeah- – Yes, people have realized that this type of behaviour is the only way that their demands will be heard/accepted.Greater public participation in such decisions is certainly needed.The situation usually is that such decisions are taken, always on an ad hoc basis, on the whim of the minister concerned based on who 'shouts' or 'protests' the loudest.

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  11. Manju, your idea of keeping model trains is brilliant. This behaviour of public showing anger by burning public property had been prevalent for the past so many years. I feel, we should take public opinion first before diverting trains, because so many people might be using that train. It is wrong by the public to destroy public property to show their opposition to some decision by the govt. It is the tax payers' money – our money. Again we are going to build the coaches with our own money. And the Ministers should not take back their stand, as soon as the public shows their anger. Mamata should have gone there personally and explained why she stopped the express train from stopping in those stations. Who are the public, here? Just youngsters who do not have proper jobs and just do any type of destruction, when they get an opportunity, right? Bihar has got a good CM now and hope things will change there.

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  12. Kislay- So true, Lalu Prasad Yadav did consider the Railways to be his personal fiefdom! And the new Railway Minister is faithfully following in his footsteps…Sandhya- Yes, if it was the correct decision to make, the Railway Minister should not have backed down because of the protests. But the decision should have been taken, as you say, after informing the people and taking their opinion.

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  13. With the passage of time and spread of education and awareness, we seem to have become very intolerant, bigotted, extremely prejudiced and generally very mediocre.We wear our feelings on our sleeve and take offence at the slightest provocation. We seem stressed out and flaring up is a natural corollary.Like you said elsewhere….we can only hope and work towards creating a harmonius society…. Vinod has a made a pertinent point in his comment on a unresponsive system has lead to this attitude.

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  14. Hi Manju .. The train burnings have become a norm but sad is the govt wakes up only after trains a burned. if they start responding then probably the burnings would stop.

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  15. Mavin- very insightful observation- yes, we have become "generally very mediocre". We neither expect nor require mature behaviour from ourselves.SP- Welcome!Yes, an unresponsive government which wakes up only after such incidents is the reason for this trend.But I feel that we still cannot excuse such behaviour.

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  16. It is a good idea no doubt but do you not think that these violent protesters are too indisciplined to limit themselves to one fixed place. They want to caust damage, and they do not care how or where. I think such people should be caught and punished by making them pay as much as possible for the damages caused by them. Only then will they learn that public property is sacred, even though public representatives are not.

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  17. Manju, I am having trouble opening yours and Mr. Sharma's blog. My comments are also not turning up. This I am somehow managing to comment after hitting the stop button else it gives me error. Dont know if it will show up or not. Is it just me or anyone complained about the same?–Solilo

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  18. Sucharita Sarkar- Most likely this idea won't be successful because protesters want witnesses! They may not find any point in destroying things if no one is looking! :)It would be nice if they could be punished, but so difficult to catch a few people in a mob…Gopinathji- Thank you! Will come over to your blog now…Solilo- Yes, a few people have been having this problem. Even I have been having trouble publishing posts.I hope Blogger solves the problems soon…

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  19. The means to achieving a goal is all screwed up! I think a good venting spot is a solution. There should be boxing gloves, and walls that people can just bang into. Old glass that needs to be broken before it goes for recyling should be hurtled, and people should be forced to bang the earth and make it plant worthy – ok the last one was a bit too wishful, 🙂

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