PERSPECTIVE
Jantar Mantar, via Matka Chowk
It's time to vote for some noise pollution
- S. PAL
It's time to vote for some noise pollution



JANTAR MANTAR is one observatory, slightly less than 300 years old, where you can compile some of the most complex astronomical tables, and predict the times and movements of the sun, moon and planets. Right outside the observatory, without ever wreaking any damage to it at all, sundry groups of people with a grouse or a grievance would sit under make-shift tents, or just lie down on a durrie, demanding justice, or silently hoping for it.

Even with the help of all those mysterious looking red brick yantras, they could not calculate when the time will come for the realisation of that final, divine promise — that the meek shall inherit the earth.

Now, the National Green Tribunal has ordered their eviction from India's iconic site of a dharna. It was just too noisy, the NGT said. Not good for the environment.

Almost a quarter century ago, the Sulatas of Delhi had found that the Boat Club was being ruined by farmers who swarm upon the capital, seeking proper remuneration for their produce. Now, the protestors have been told to shift to the Ram Lila Maidan.
 
 Also Read: THREE WOMEN OF 1984 –  A love story

The simple fact is: the powers that be do not want to even see people raising their voice. That they did not hear the voice is well proven by independent India's 70 years of history.
----------
When a state suppresses the cry for justice on account of charges of noise pollution, it joins the ranks of the conscience-dead. It votes for the calm of the graveyard silence. We must spread noise pollution at such a time.
----------
Not even the most repressive regimes in the Arab world, who hardly think anything of mowing down protesting crowds, had ever thought of accusing protesters of noise pollution. Dare I say that the Arab Spring did see noise pollution going up a few notches in regimes where silence is considered golden, a way of life to continue that ensures survival.

Surely, the Occupy Wall Street movement added to the noise pollution. It's a pity the writ of the NGT does not run to the World Social Forum venues.

As newspapers carry pictures of officials cleaning up the Jantar Mantar area, having demolished the tents and other makeshift structures on Monday, October 30, India's democracy suffered the blow of a million silent curses. Among these were some of India's finest men who were protesting on the One Rank One Pension issue. No one demanded that the nation needs an answer. A bunch of gau rakshaks quietly shifted from Jantar Mantar to Ram Lila Maidan, though I am not sure they found an answer.

The state of a country's democracy is defined by how it is practised in the chowk. 

What happened at the Jantar Mantar is especially important for activists in Punjab. They gulped the sarkari farmaan of keeping Matka Chowk free of any protests rather meekly. 

Just a few years ago, Punjab was agog with talk of torture in the police thanas. Well, that still happens, and everyone and his uncle knows that. 
-----------
Not even the most repressive regimes in the Arab world, who hardly think anything of mowing down protesting crowds, had ever thought of accusing protesters of noise pollution. The Arab Spring did see noise pollution going up a few notches in regimes where silence is considered golden, a way of life that ensures survival. They must have missed our NGT.
-----------
Now that the state has developed a new democratically-sanctioned model of torture in the public square — beating up nurses, anganwadi workers, farmers, angry people protesting against the death of anyone in police custody, relatives demanding inquiry into killing of a kidnapped child — it has also ensured that the aggrieved hordes do not come marching into the town. 

So you cannot protest at the Matka Chowk, just a few hundred yards from the seat of power, the Punjab Assembly. The state finds the power to throw out powerless people from Jantar Mantar after trying out its prowess at places like Matka Chowk.

Governments, when they are far removed from the concerns of the masses, are programmed to constantly shrink and eliminate democratic spaces where people can raise their voice. Law comes handy as a convenient tool.

NGT is on the right side of the law. When the height of a dam is raised and villages/villagers are drowned in reservoir waters, nothing that happens is illegal. Such fights are being imposed on people in every state, town and village. 
 
 Also Read:  DEFAMATION A PLOY TO GAG MEDIA  –  SC must revisit stance on criminal aspect

Matka Chowk was made a no-go zone for protesters by the Chandigarh Administration by using the law, fair and square. That the democratic voices were stifled in the process is a minor aspect that neither shrieking anchors cared about, nor did Chandigarh's elite media. Editors too like a city beautiful to be calm, free of noise pollution, so they did not say a word, careful that they do not add to the noise pollution.
-----------
The state of a country's democracy is defined by the health of how it is practised in the chowk. What happened at the Jantar Mantar is especially important for activists in Punjab. They gulped the sarkari farmaan of keeping Matka Chowk free of any protests rather meekly. 
-----------
Just as protesters at Jantar Mantar were told to shift to Ram Lila Maidan, Chandigarh's elite told the farmers, the protesting wage-demanding teachers, job-searching youth to shift to a site in Sector 25, next to the cremation grounds.

It is a site completely removed from the daily life of the city, away from the eyes of the people. It is easier for farmers to gather there, raise slogans, and then disperse, without anyone noticing them. Unless the dead are listening. 

But the very purpose of protests is to pressurise the government through public exposure, not convince the dead.

One would have thought that the point of public protest always is that such a gathering or protest will inform the people about how a government has wronged its own citizens. The dead are often not moved by the protest.

The fact is that Chandigarh's leading media houses carried headlines that mocked the voices of those seeking justice. "They ran amok, now they’re back,” said a newspaper in a screaming headline to warn people of what it saw as the marauding hordes of farmers. Editors in glass houses can easily miss the connection between a five star hotel that came up near the Matka Chowk and the administration's actions of debarring the milling crowds of rather shabbily dressed farmers who could be seen from its windows.

Silence, as we all know, is the most insidious way of extending support. The fact is that those tasked with seeking an answer on behalf of the nation preferred to either stay silent, or be part of the apparatus that killed the democracy in the chowk.

Punjab’s now ruling Congress party, as well as the opposition Akali Dal refused to be sucked into any debate when the Chandigarh Administration slapped a blanket ban on anyone from Punjab coming to Chandigarh to protest against the government. You will not hear a squeak from them on the issue of Jantar Mantar.

Not one of their leaders went and sat at the Matka Chowk, or the Jantar Mantar when the Punjab Assembly passed a blanket law — "The Punjab (Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property) Act — the likes of which could only have been possible in North Korea or pre-reforms China, prohibiting any protest, agitation, dharna on any issue in the state without permission from the government. 

Punjabis must guard against attempts to snatch away democratic spaces that allow breathing room for ideas. The voice of the dissenter is not meant for the dead at a cremation site. The shout of a protestor will not reach the hallowed portals of the Parliament if the protesters are shunted off to the far away Ram Lila Maidan.

When a state suppresses the cry for justice on account of charges of noise pollution, it joins the ranks of the conscience-dead. It votes for the calm of the graveyard silence.
  
When the health of a democracy is at peril, the believers of demoracy should check it out in the chowk. Matka Chowk is as good as any other place. So is Jantar Mantar.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________
Most shared Punjab Today articles:

  

 THREE WOMEN OF 1984  –  A Love Story

 

 DEFAMATION A PLOY TO GAG MEDIA – SC must revisit stance on criminal aspect

 

 HONESTY CERTIFICATE TO MAJITHIA TRIGGERS CRISIS IN TRIBUNE  – A report

 

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE Issued by The Tribune

 

WAS IT MEANT FOR TRUMP? OR US?  – Bush, Obama said this on Diwali

CHALO, PATAAKE CHALAYEN – CM Amarinder Singh & Parkash Singh Badal Jee

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

ELECTION COMMISSION - YOU FAILED TO CONVINCE. TRY AGAIN.

THIS IS WHY ELECTION COMMISSION DID NOT ANNOUNCE GUJARAT POLL DATES – Decoding the mystery 

BJP TO EDUCATE FARMERS ABOUT AGRI & RELIGION LINK – Will tell them Modi did so much 

AYE BHAI, BINA DEKHE CHALO –  Walking with the blind in Chandigarh

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

OPEN SALE AT GNDU – Have Rs 25,000? Get your compartment cleared. Rs 50,000 for two subjects

SUCHA SINGH LANGAH : KAMAAL JAARI HAI... Sucha Singh Langah wins, even in his darkest moments

ABEY TU BAHAR NIKAL, CHOWK MEIN AA   The 10-yard-radius protest

PATIALA, VIA PANCHKULA. SOON REACHING YOUR CITY. HAIL DEMOCRACY! Halaat kharaab nahi hone chahiye!

PEHLU KHAN CASE   Will Govt Now Compensate The Magnificent Six? The Nation Needs to Know

MR HOME MINISTER, WILL YOU BE VISITING FAROOQ AHMAD DAR'S HOUSE? Deconstructing Modi's narrative

THE RYAN DEBATE: HOW INDIA MISSED THE GREAT CCTV ANGLE?  Not covered by cctv, so not covered by tv either

POLITICAL ECONOMY OF EXTENSION IN AGE OF RETIREMENT  What’s wrong with retirement age policy?

THE GORAKHPUR DEAD SPEAK TO PUNJAB  From Patiala to Gorakhpur, the tale of the dead

WE WILL KILL 40-50  Haryana BJP, Govt calculated death toll before firing first bullet

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS  Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

LET'S KILL PAASH  Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu on the importance of Paash

A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace.

TO SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL: Speaking truth to power, and asking some tough questions

DECONSTRUCTING NAVJOT SINGH SIDHUThis is a duel -- pistols drawn, hands on hip, 20 steps across, aim taken

SURGICAL STRIKE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT: Indian jawans killed everyone at this forward post of Pakistan

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

 _______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT

 






Comment

your name*

email address*

comments*
You may use these HTML tags:<p> <u> <i> <b> <strong> <del> <code> <hr> <em> <ul> <li> <ol> <span> <div>

verification code*
 







MOST VISITED
YOU MAY LIKE

TOPIC CLOUD

TAGS CLOUD

ARCHIVE



Copyright © 2016-2017







NEWS LETTER