The primary responsibility of any government, whatever be its political model, is to ensure the security of its citizens. Security has many dimensions – economic, financial, ‘societal’: which is about maintaining the peaceful and conducive environment in the country within which its development will take place. This means that people can go about their daily routine and other affairs with a confidence that barring exceptional circumstances there will be no disturbance in their civilian life, because the rule of law will prevail at all times, and apply equally to all.
For the country to run smoothly on these lines, the most fundamental condition is that the law is followed, is enforced equitably and this is seen to take place, so that there is order in society – which means that people have to respect certain boundaries as regards what they can or cannot do. Thus arises the foremost of government’s responsibilities, which is to guarantee a situation of law and order in the country. All other activities related to the conduct of their affairs by citizens and the development of the country can only take place if there is law and order, and that is why all societies place a premium on this crucial aspect of their governance.
Events and incidents that have been taking place and unfolding over the past several weeks in the country have had the effect of creating a trust deficit between the government and the people. This is a time of the year when the end-of-year festive season is approaching, and everyone wants to feel relaxed and prepare to bid goodbye to this particularly distressing outgoing year and welcome the new year with hope in their hearts. Despite the Covid pandemic and the disruptions it has caused and continues to do so, people had started to feel a little more comfortable in themselves.
Unfortunately, suddenly this buoyancy in anticipation of the festive season has been marred by a series of deaths in suspicious circumstances. The dust had hardly started to settle down after the deaths of the Woman Police Constable of ADSU and of little Ayaan assaulted by his stepfather, that one body after another has been discovered, and the initial but rather hurried conclusion of suicide by the Police put into question by evidence that is arising from accounts, testimonies and findings that are being unravelled during the judicial enquiry under way. In all these cases the lawyers handling them are by the by establishing elements that would point to foul play, what with inexplicable and implausible absence of images supposed to be captured by the ultra-sophisticated Safe City cameras coming to the fore in relation to the first case, that of Mr Kistnen. His and the subsequent deaths all seem to have some connection with the supply chain of requirements during the pandemic.
The lawyers who have taken up the case of Mr Kistnen have openly queried the existence of a ‘mafia’, and have expressed concern for their own security. Can we imagine the level to which we have sunk? If this is what lawyers are feeling, what about the common man?
In this connection, on 18 Dec an article has been published by the Swiss paper Le Temps bearing the title ‘Le coronavirus représente une grande opportunité pour la mafia’. The few lines of introductory write-up are worrying enough:
‘Le procureur italien Nicola Gratteri appelle la Suisse à se doter d’une législation plus efficace contre les capitaux mafieux…
Tout comme les autres pandémies, crises et catastrophes naturelles par le passé, la covid a profité à l’expansion des groupes mafieux, qui se substitue à l’Etat avec la distribution d’argent généré de façon illicite.
Procureur à Catanzaro, en Calabre, Nicola Gratteri est depuis des décennies en première ligne dans la lutte anti-mafia. Avec le journaliste Antonio Nicaso, il vient de publier Oxygène illégal, un ouvrage sur la façon dont le crime organisé tire profit de la pandémie.’
There is clearly more than meets the eye that is going on, and this information raises the question of whether the local incidents have international ramifications. Is it surprising that there is an atmosphere of apprehension prevailing in the country, and that it will require more than just an appeal to lawyers by the Commissioner of Police to avoid creating a psychosis to allay the fears of the population? These are precisely the kinds of times when no less that the whole of government must come forward to give the absolute guarantee of their security to the citizens, and we repeat, especially at this period when they expect to de-stress themselves with family and friends after the hardest of years that we have known since long because of the pandemic.
But then, why for this period only? It has to be all the time, 24/7, whatever be the state of the surveillance system. One would expect that all those directly or indirectly assigned with the responsibility of maintaining law and order will uphold the Constitution of the country.
* Published in print edition on 22 December 2020