Ujjain Mahakaal temple

The State can’t enforce firecrackers ban on Deepawali. Period

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Firecrackers were burst with vengeance not just in Delhi NCR last night. The story is true everywhere. People have drawn a line in the sand against State, judiciary or National Green Tribunal (NGT) throttling their beliefs. If it involves a jail of six months, so be it.

The rulers believed banning crackers was for the good of people only. India could hardly breathe in winter. That the season of Coronavirus could take you over the edge. Decrees were declared. Orders were announced. Gazettes were notified. The word got to everyone through that sublime monstrosity of our newspapers.

No effect.

The trouble is State and its organs speak a lot but listen little. They have oil poured in their ears. The voices of people don’t reach. Or maybe they have no answer why air pollution is bad but cutting trees for Christmas isn’t for the environment. Why do we have ban only till November 30 when firecrackers are also burst during Xmas and New Year too? Is December any less polluted than November in India?

People are talking. All the time. If Rulers don’t listen, they appear prejudiced which is lethal in a deeply religious society like ours. Why wasting water is bad in Holi but drinking the one mixed with the entrails and blood of a goat sacrificed in Eid through its water distribution artery isn’t. There is a Supreme Court ruling how many millileters of water can be poured over the Shiv Lingam in Ujjain Mahakaal temple. Or why chanting mantras could bring about an avalanche in mountains but not the blaring of Azaan from mosques. Or why Rakhi and Karva Chauth is patriarchal but not so the abysmal treatment of Muslim women in our society.

Do you think I am getting into a religious binary? Ignoring the damage which firecrackers evidently inflict on our air? A toxicity which doesn’t discriminate a Hindu from a Muslim?

So let’s play this game too. What has State done in all these years to the farmers’ stubble burning if I may ask? What answer it has to the oil-based solvent type exterior and interior paints which fill our air? How credible are the pollution certificates on our cars which is a joke on how its’ managed and unquestioned after expiry? My friend Veeresh Malik calls it a dystopian state from George Orwell’s book where you find the rope that fits the nearest neck but you.

As I write this, firecrackers are bursting around every minute. It must be true around you too. But the State is deaf. It’s losing its moral high ground. The state appears prejudiced and timid on religious scales. Prejudiced are instanced above. Timid is to ignore that sacrificing goats or cutting trees for Eid or Christmas which is being disapproved these days even in Islamic and Christian countries. Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Slovenia are even-handed: They do it with Muslim practices and so with Jewish Kosher. No ritual slaughter.

The State is also shown as powerless. You don’t even enough Khaki to enforce it who, unconvinced for all you know, might be turning their backs to such blatant defiance. Those who try are left bloodied by people.

If the State can’t appear even-handed. It could at least summon common sense.  Fix hours for firecrackers. Promote green bursts. Don’t make it appear as if your criminalizing a whole civilization. If you are defied now, you would be defied again and again. You can’t fetter a billion voices. Worse, India would be in flames.

Stop.