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Destruction of public property - Whose property is it anyway?


Florine Roche

Mar 17: "Agitations cannot hold the nation to ransom and be a reason to vandalise public property. Organisers of such agitations will have to pay the cost". This is what the Supreme Court said recently following the destructive Jat agitation of February this year. The Jat stir demanding reservation quota had turned violent resulting in killings, burning, looting of shops and mobs destroying canals and other public property resulting in loss to the tune of almost Rs 35,000 crores. The railways also had suffered a loss to the tune of Rs 55 crores during the Jat strike. Apart from loss to public and private property the jat agitation had brought trade, industry, transport and small business to a grinding halt thus completely stalling any economic activity.

Now once again the cultural capital of Karnataka Mysuru was burning with the bandh called in protest against the killing of BJP RSS leader on March 13, 2016 turning violent. During the bandh on March 14, BJP supporters resorted to burning and ransacking of shops, vehicles and causing harm to public and private property. The cameras have captured the scenes of these goondas and lumpen elements going on the rampage hitting out at fruit stalls, shops offices and other establishments and also torching vehicles. The loss caused by this vandalism is yet to be ascertained.


During Mysuru bandh on March 14

This is the third such incident in India in the recent past where we have watched as silent spectators when the states were burnt. Earlier Gujarath had witnessed violence resulting in huge property destruction during the Patidhar agitation and it is said that some political parties were responsible for instigating the agitators to resort to violence. The Jat agitation saw unprecedented damage to public property, something which does not usually happen during state level agitations and once again it is said Congress leaders instigated the Jats to indulge in violence. Now Mysuru has borne the brunt of the acts of a few goondas of the BJP taking law into their own hands. Apart from causing large scale amage what is alarming is the manner in which the political parties, organisations and individuals go scot free after causing huge damage and inconvenience to the common people.

Recently the Supreme Court has come down heavily on the agitators following the Jat stir turning violent saying that those who indulge in violence, burning and ransacking must be made to pay for their actions. It also said that the leaders or organizers of the agitation must be held responsible for the consequences. This is a very welcome move for the simple reason that the parties or outfits that give a bandh call remain in the background but the grass root level workers become vulnerable to prosecution or action. Hence political parties will think twice or many times before they instigate the mob to act. By expressing its concern on the large scale destruction of public property the Supreme Court has given a timely warning to the political parties and other outfits that organize such bandhs and also to the people of this country, not to be silent spectators and bear the burden for the vandalism caused by them to reap political benefits.

Every time such incident occurs we express concern, lament the loss, write comments on reports and react emotionally. But within a few days the issue is forgotten until we wake up one fine morning with another such incident of much graver intensity. Supreme Court has issues a series of guidelines from time to time including a suo motto cognisance in 2007. Now that the Supreme Court has given a warning in this direction as a fallout of the Jat agitation, it is time we the ordinary citizens of this country, who actually bear the brunt of their whims and fancy in the form of more taxes and rising costs, wake up from our Kumbakarna kind of sleep and ask for strict action against such anarchic elements.

Should those who justify such massive loss to the country be allowed to go scot-free? Should we allow them to get away and bear the burden of their acts under the garb of freedom of expression? The people of this country who are already reeling under the rising cost of essential commodities including food grains, cannot shoulder more burden especially at a time when we are making every effort to improve our economy and perk up the standard of living of our people. No doubt bandhs, hartals and protests are essential ingredients of a vibrant democracy to express dissent and displeasure. But we cannot condone the violence that comes with bandhs and agitations and the immediate and long term hardships it causes to the common people. The perpetrators should be given severe punishment so that it acts as a deterrent for others.

Many of us may not be aware how much we the people of this country are forced to pay for such irresponsible and cowardice behaviour of a few people. Many of us are not aware that public property means it is our property. May be we need to educate the public in this regard that public property is the property of the people of this country. The government is only the custodian of this property and any damage caused to it like causing damage to our own personal property. It is true we don’t feel the pinch of this destruction directly unlike when we buy personal things that we require at home. That is why there is an urgent need to create public awareness on this aspect.

At the same time the Union Home ministry should bring in an amendment to the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act 1984. In 2007 following the Gujjar agitation the Supreme Court had initiated a suo motu proceeding against such bunds, agitations and had appointed two different committees. One committee was to propose strengthening the provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Properties act and the others to fix the responsibility of damage on the leaders. The Justice K T Thomas Committee who dealt with the second proposal had made certain recommendations to deter prospective violators from ravaging public property and these recommendations were accepted by the government and had issued a circular in this regard in May 2015 inviting suggestions for the proposed amendment. It must be acknowledged that any amendment cannot be passed in a hurry and an amendment of this stature certainly calls for careful inspection and will take its own time. But the government should expedite the matter realising its significance and the urgency with which it needs to be amended.

It is true that effecting an amendment to this act is not easy considering that it might be used as a tool against political opponents. Agreed, it should not be misused against opponents. Let us apply the same yardstick and say any amendment not jeopardise the rights of the common citizens to protest. At the same time such agitations should not cause any change or hardships to the common people who usually get affected the most. We must bear in mind that rights of some people to protest should not mean the right of the common people to live or lead a normal life are to be sacrificed or their livelihood can be taken away due to widespread destruction.

It is time the long rope given to the political parties, religious and other outfits to destroy public property and get away with it is tightened at the earliest.

Comment on this article

  • JJ, Mlore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    My heart burns when I see such images of burning public and private property. I can feel the shivers because my money and assets are hard earned. Have these goons earned to know the value !!!!

    DisAgree Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Evans Christopher Sumitra, UDUPI/NEW YORK,USA.

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    This destruction of public property is unbelievable. Whoever is responsible for this should be thrown into a jail after a good beating.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • B Prakash Kamath, Mannagudda,

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Why only take Mysore incident.The article talk about jat agitation suported by congress. And Gujarat voilence we know done by Congress. So why Congi chamchas happily pointing fingers to BJP. And other few who never give up chance to critizise BJP shoudl know amount of violence they do.

    DisAgree [20] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • vasanth, Dakshina kannada dist

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    No need to point at anybody here because "hammam mein sab nange". Destruction of public property is condemnable whoever does it. And it is not necessary that the destruction is caused by the agitators. There are certain elements who use such opportunities to destroy public property. With the modern technology,it is not too difficult to identify them. They are to be punished. Non violent agitation is a right in Democracy. It is the duty of the State to control and punish the miscreants. does the Govt allow the public to act as police?

    DisAgree Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • STAN, DUBAI

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Poor man's rickshaw????? Why can't they give fire to the politicians car?????

    DisAgree [1] Agree [36] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Sometime back a former Mayor of Mangaluru was seen pelting stones during an agitation.
    Almost all our political leaders have this 'stone throwing' and 'arson' background only!
    What to do?
    Follow the leaderrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    DisAgree [7] Agree [22] Reply Report Abuse

  • Roys, Ekkur

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Such boring article, writing is sweet and simple.

    DisAgree [7] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • HOFZ, MANGALORE

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    THIS WORK DONE BY BHARATH MATA KI JAI GOONDAS

    DisAgree [24] Agree [47] Reply Report Abuse

  • KRPrabhu, B'luru

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Who and why RSS worker was killed....is he not a goonda...you are hiding his name because his green color?
    Who is responsible for mob violence?

    DisAgree [14] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Charles D'Mello, Pangala

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    If the organisations/political parties are made to pay for these losses, then they may stop such stupid actions.

    DisAgree Agree [34] Reply Report Abuse

  • HENRY MISQUITH, Bahrain

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    You can't hit a cow but a horse is fine?

    DisAgree [6] Agree [41] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ummar, Udupi/Dubai

    Thu, Mar 17 2016


    Sorry dear little correction.

    If you belongs to BJP/RSS you can do what so ever. If any other people hit to horse till now Maneka Gandhi shouting till her throat comes in mouth. Why so silent now. Just because offender is BJP MLA that's it. Chameleon ... ... ...

    DisAgree [3] Agree [45] Reply Report Abuse

  • ibrahim, Mangaluru

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    If anyone or mob belonging to any specific group destroy public property, then such individual or group to be made liable to pay the damages.
    If anyone has to pay from his pocket he will feel the heat

    DisAgree [2] Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ronald D, Udupi

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Author has rightly pointed - "Many of us are not aware that public property means it is our property. May be we need to educate the public in this regard that public property is the property of the people of this country. The government is only the custodian of this property and any damage caused to it like causing damage to our own personal property."
    Few days back Mlore Police Commissioner too echoed right for peaceful protest! If these vandalizes are kept behind bars until last penny for damage is paid....our economy will be on fast track!!!

    DisAgree Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ayes P., kudla/KSA

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    destruction of public property is the culture of goons.

    DisAgree Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dev Sagar, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE LONG BACK BUT ANYWAY BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR DAMAGE TO PROPERTY WHETHER PRIVATE OF PUBLIC. ONCE THERE IS A STRICT POLICY TO RECOVER DAMAGES FROM THOSE WHO CAUSE THEM THIS MENACE WILL STOP SLOWLY BUT SURELY.

    DisAgree Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Ramesh S, MANGALORE

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    ..well, whom you fine..PATIDAR/JAT agitation has clear Congress hand but how you will prove?..media has a role to play but unfortunately some media houses works like WATSUP tries to fuel fire and works for their political masters..they know names of JAT/PATIDAR leaders, they know they belong to upper caste but still there is no discussion why they need reservation..why cant we make financial conditions only the criterea for reservation..media was totally blank on Malda and on the murders by CPI cadre..this bias only legitimize crimes of some..

    DisAgree [5] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Marle, Bangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Public or private,

    if anyone does these things the leader of that association should be held responsible and then ask to pay for the losses along with the penalty. "Bharat Matha Ki Jai"

    DisAgree [1] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • Clifford , Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    BJP has failed to realise that by rioting and burning public property they are slowly destroying BJP in Karnataka. Do they think they can come to power by terrorising people. Bhrasta Janara party is also now called Bhrasta goonda party.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • haneef , mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Who cares supreme court! Political parties in India are terrorists parties.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • HENRY MISQUITH, Bahrain

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    There should be strict special law for the rioters damaging public property. Protest and agitation has many ways but destruction is not one of them.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [36] Reply Report Abuse

  • Daniel, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Desh Bhakts building India by doing such kind of things.. and they need to say jai bharath.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Suleman Byari, Udupi

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Economical loss to the country is by destroying public and private properties not by uttering so called anti national slogan. If govt. is able to confiscate the properties of the trouble makers to compensate the loss, every riot will hault.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [31] Reply Report Abuse

  • abdul razak, nitte/kuwait

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Big Salute to Supreme Court...
    Jai Hind...

    DisAgree [3] Agree [39] Reply Report Abuse

  • SK, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    But the SC has to implement its rules mercilessly .....it should not remain in papers only.....

    DisAgree Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Albert, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Bharat maata ki jai!!

    DisAgree [11] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • JJ, mlore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    This type of Arson, goodagiri, and property destruction is a very common scene in India today after BJP got majority seats in Parliament. If it was a coalition like Mr. Vajpayee's time there would be nothing of this sort. This majority mandate has given the BJP goondas the upper hand to do as they please.

    Just imagine the plight of the poor Horse that was beaten by BJP MLA yesterday. I hope he will get the same treatment one day. We will see more of this in the days to come.

    DisAgree [6] Agree [51] Reply Report Abuse

  • HENRY MISQUITH, Bahrain

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    BJP does not spare even animals. Sadists to the core.

    DisAgree [7] Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • shan, dubai

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    A woman's biggest enemy is another woman.....Animals are the enemy of animal???????

    DisAgree [2] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • gm, mlur

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    The main aim is Goondagiri.

    DisAgree [6] Agree [41] Reply Report Abuse

  • SK, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Just observations and giving some figures will not work...... Stern action should be taken against the social goondas / rowdies.... That is the need of the hour....

    DisAgree [2] Agree [37] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rakib, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Real Deshdrohis are the one who destroys public property

    DisAgree [8] Agree [72] Reply Report Abuse

  • gm, mlur

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    NO, they are deshpremi's and people who stop or condemn them, then they are anti nationals.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [60] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shaan, Mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2016

    Real terrorist are the one who destroys public property

    DisAgree [3] Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

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