Thursday, July 31, 2008


The police firing upon Gujjars in India recently killed 26 people. That figure is part of a long tradition in crowd management by the Indian police.

For instance, in 1932 when Gandhi and the Indian National Congress re-started the civil disobedience movement the police and government responded swiftly and ferociously. Congress leaders were imprisoned and the police charged ruthlessly upon the crowds. People were killed and wounded and more than 100,000 arrested.

Ainslee T. Embree in his book 'India's Search for National Identity' quotes from a letter written by an Indian observer to Ramsay MacDonald, then British Labour Prime Minister.

“The police in India, ill-educated, ill-paid, and drawn from the lowest strata of society and accustomed to rough modes, when actually authorized and encouraged to strike persons in the streets, irrespective of station, age or sex, cannot be expected to restrain themselves. Stories of inhuman and barbarous chastisement go about, creating bitterness and racial and communal rancour. Believe me, there will be the very devil to pay for another generation.”

We must be that generation.

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