Oh, what a fall was there, my countrymen! Then I and you and all of us fell down, while bloody treason flourished over us.
Over the past few years, the government of Chhattisgarh has had a particularly undistinguished record in this respect. The burning of adivasi villages under the government-sponsored Salwa Judum has been documented in a series of independent reports. Then there is the unconscionable incarceration without bail of the respected social worker and doctor, Binayak Sen, on the very flimsy charge of carrying a letter from one Naxalite to another. Now comes this savage act of retribution against a group of law-abiding, peace-loving, and utterly non-violent Gandhians.
Supporters of the Chhattisgarh government deflect such criticism by pointing to the fact that the chief minister of the state has won a series of elections. But democracy does not begin and end with the counting of votes. Those elected to political office are sworn to uphold the rule of law, and to honour the ideals of the Indian Constitution. This holds true at the national as well as provincial levels. It applies equally to Congress-led governments as to Bharatiya Janata Party-led ones. So long as incidents such as the demolition of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram occur and recur, India will not count as much more than a 50 per cent democracy.
I think Guha is too liberal in his marking scheme when he gives 50% after all the atrocities that he documents — I say, give 15% and fail!