Statement of Simranjit Singh Mann,
President of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar),
Dated- 23 March 2020,
From Quilla Sardar Hernam Singh,
Coronavirus is dangerous but at stake are the liberties and freedoms of the Sikh Nation – Simranjit Singh Mann
The Corona virus crisis to our well-being is bringing many changes. People have started paying attention to personal hygiene and cleanliness. It has made us more attentive to the hygienic conditions surrounding us.
With the worldwide Coronavirus academic everyone has been pitching in to support government policies to contain this virulent spread of disease. People are willingly giving up many liberties on the say so of the Central and State government for the greater good.
However I wish to also point out that these curtailments on our movement and dissemination of information and the suspension of rights enshrined in article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution have a worrying history.
Indira Gandhi during emergency also curtailed these rights to wide adulation, however her actions where judged by history to be Draconian and against the notion of modern democratic standards with regards to human rights.
The current Central government has been playing fast and loose with the constitutional commitments made to Jammu and Kashmir in the recent past by dissolving the state into two union territories.
This abrogation of the promise made to the state of Jammu and Kashmir under article 370 of the Indian constitution was swiftly followed by the imposition of CAA and the NCR meant to further disenfranchise Muslims in this country. Given today’s attack on the protests against the CAA and the NCR being held in Delhi at Shaheen Bagh and the Central and State governments hostility towards the protests. We need to keep our attention on the case beyond our fixation on the Corona virus epidemic.
The state has also hung four perpetrators of the most heinous crime of rape and murder by the equally heinous crime of killing by hanging these four convicts. The United Nations has called upon the state of India to stop capital punishment as per the norms of modern humane standards.
Modern notions of the state, specially in democratic systems, have regularly pointed out the tyranny of the majority. John Stuart Mill in his treaties “On liberty,” wrote of the oppression of the majority as being akin to a tyranny. The founding fathers of the United States of America from John Adams to James Madison in the Federalist number 10 again warned us of the dangers of majoritarianism. Being the pragmatists, they even provided many remedies to majoritarianism from divided government separated into different branches, of executive, legislative and judicial. Further dividing power into the Federal to the State to the County to the Township and down to election of a dog catcher, having their own domain and sphere of influence such that every level could exercise their collective will without an overbearing will of the majority. Further they even provided a fundamental bill of rights which none of the various legislative executive or judicial, federal or state branches could override with ease. Just so the majority could not erase any individual beyond the Rights they enjoyed in the very formation of the collective Constitution that bound them together.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” is a saying attributed to Winston Churchill. This is exactly what Adolf Hitler and the Nazis did when a draconian Versailles treaty was imposed on the German state. The Nazis championed the cause of the people of Germany, and set up a state with an abhorrent ideology while giving a sense of empowerment to a weakened people.
It would be wise to keep a check on the unbridled enthusiasm that people feel in giving up the very basic rights to a government which has shown its teeth to the minorities by running roughshod over the Constitution, and is now setting aim on the rights given to Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the constitution of India.
Simranjit Singh Mānn,
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar),
facebook page: @sardarsimranjitsinghmann