Sep 09, 2023

Blog: Baba's Bulldozer Has Come Home To Roost

Don't tell me you didn't see it coming. Baba's bulldozer may have been politically programmed to raze Muslim houses and shops, but it was a matter of time before it went rogue.

The death of a mother and daughter during a demolition drive in Kanpur is the manifestation of a sickness that the society has fed and nurtured, thinking the bulldozer will only turn on "Them, not Us".

54-year-old Pramila Dikshit and her 22-year-old daughter Shiva died in a fire that broke out during a demolition drive, when a bulldozer was razing their home in Kanpur Dehat. The house was allegedly built on government land. The family said they were never given notice.

In the imagination of the bulldozer cheerleaders, the machine was only meant to satisfy a collective bloodlust and deep-rooted hatred for Muslims. It symbolised their "tough" leader's (Yogi Adityanath's) resolve to put Muslims in their place. You protest, we raze. You demand rights, we bulldoze. You ask questions, we let the bulldozer do the talking. Many "Me Too Tough" leaders in other parts of the country took their cue from Bulldozer Baba and showed they could do it too.

The bulldozer, without fail, found Muslim addresses on the slightest of pretexts. The Baba's fans cheered, and some TV anchors, in the name of ground reporting, jumped onto the bulldozers tearing down houses, livelihoods, and lives.

The bulldozers were unleashed on anyone the state deemed an accused, a gangster, mafia, etc. From UP rallies to US parades, bulldozers were flaunted as a symbol of triumph and pride. The very bulldozing of justice was sold as "justice" and decisive action. A Chief Minister and his henchmen in the administration played judge, jury, and executioner with impunity. Bulldozers became "do-gooders".

Those who raised questions were mocked. Saharanpur, Allahabad, Jahangirpuri and Khargone became examples and symbols of "justice" in Amrit Kaal. The ruler bulldozed the rule of law.

Then the bulldozer went off script. Kanpur Dehat happened.

Yogi Adityanath knows this time his bulldozer took a wrong turn. A Rajput Chief Minister's bulldozer on a poor Brahmin family is bad optics. He swung into action, formed a Special Investigation Team, and ordered a magisterial probe. Arrests were made and heads rolled.

The Kanpur Dehat Sub Divisional Magistrate was transferred. When is the last time we saw such swift action over bulldozers tearing down lives?

The Kanpur Dehat incident has stumped fans of Yogi's bulldozer. They shed tears for the Dikshits and pinned the blame on "insensitive" babus and demanded action. The narrative quickly went from eulogizing "Baba Bulldozer" to dissing "Bad Babus". The double standards are monumental.

How did it come to this? What gave these "Bad Babus" the impunity to train their bulldozers on the poor Dikshits of Kanpur?

The obvious answer is that these officials were convinced they have political blessings; their actions over the last few years have only earned them rewards, praise and a back-up career in politics.

Will the Kanpur Dehat incident trigger a rethink on the bulldozer policy? Will it make the bulldozer worshippers pause and think? Will it make Adityanath and others like him go back to the boring old ways of due process?


Let this be said. The bulldozer will remain a potent symbol of "lesson taught" to Muslims. An incident or two will at best be mourned as collateral damage.

Belief in rule of law and due process is the only way to put the brakes on this obscenity. Belief that governance is best done by the book, not by bulldozer.

(Mohd Asim is a Senior Editor at NDTV 24X7)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

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Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.