In a knee-jerk response to the violence witnessed during the on-going Patidar agitation, the establishment has temporarily banned all messaging, social networking and internet chat, virtually rendering the entire population disconnected from the rest of the world, for the second successive day today.
As the much feared Patidar gathering had concluded, its leader, the mysterious 22-yr young Hardik Patel, chose to sit for a fast. Nearly all but a couple of thousand of the over four lakh people had already dispersed by then. Yet the police arrested Hardik and lathicharged those who protested. This resulted in wide-spread violence as the returning rallyists attacked anything government on their way, burning buses, police stations and other government offices.
The appeals for peace made first by the Chief Minister Anandi Patel [ahem, yes, a Patel herself!] and by none other than your venerable Gujarati Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, fell on deaf ears even in their electoral strongholds.
[Yes, for once Modi spoke of peace and understanding and asserted that nothing is ever achieved by violence. Alas, he did not possess this wisdom when some miscreants burnt a Sabarmati train compartment 13 yrs ago. Then he spoke of Action-Reaction, firmly condoning violence. Indeed, according to former Gujarat cops R B Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt, actually asking the police to allow retaliatory violence.]
If the objective was to curtail inflammatory rumours, this has clearly failed. Since phone facility and other forms of Internet communication are inevitably allowed, the word does manage to get out, though. On the contrary the rumours thus eking out are even more lethal and carry a degree of unfortunate sanctity, in the ‘don’t tell others but…’ fashion.
Worse, unfortunately as the social networks are down, and most parts of several cities placed under curfew as the police, the paramilitary and the army patrol the affected areas, the youth that may have been confined to their desktops within their homes or cyber cafes, are out on the road, participating in the ongoing rampage.
I, therefore, regard this type of communication blockade fascist, utterly stupid and counter-productive. What sayeth, thou?