Posted by: Singh Is King | Saturday, August 18, 2007

Indian media cringes as court orders kar sewa as bail condition

Never noticing the huge tilak on the forehead of India’s incumbent Chief Election Commissioner, never seeing the ‘Hey Ram’ so memorably scribbled on the samadhi of the man India considers Father of the Nation, never bothered about the bhumi-poojan ceremonies for various ventures, not once wincing about hundreds of thousands of coconuts broken till date for heralding any new project, the Indian media has shown suddenly acquired secular vision in public arena when a judge in Delhi ordered public service as a condition for grant of bail to a few rash driving young bikers.

The bikers, many of them Sikhs, were running amok in Delhi and a number of members of the Sikh sangat visiting Gurdwaras Raqabganj, Bangla Sahib etc had complained about them. The cops got hold of the bikers and the judge asked them to perform kar sewa at the gurdwara as a condition for bail.
The community service has to clock seven hours a week at the place of worship for bail eligibility. Photos of these bikers cleaning utensils were published across Indian media.

It is not uncommon in several countries, including the United States, to sentence minor or first-time offenders to do community service. Lower judges in the United States are often pretty creative when it comes to designing creative punishments for such first time offenders.

But the way sections of the Indian media have reacted smacks of rank communal approach, adopted simply because the youngmen were asked to perform kar sewa at the gurdwara. While large sections of the society welcomed the court’s verdict, here is what the Times of India wrote editorially on August 7:

“Granting bail to people accused of such offences on the condition that they perform service at a place of worship could send a wrong signal…It cannot be left to a judge to devise forms of community service according to his whims….there is a more serious problem with the kar seva order. It violates a fundamental principle of secularism. How can someone accused of a criminal offence be sent by a court of law to a place of worship for community service? A secular state has no business in imposing religious duties on any citizen, regardless of whether he is a criminal or not.”

What about coconuts, tilaks, Hey Ram? Is India’s CEC not wearing his religion on his forehead? Does India even remember its Muslims when it breaks coconuts and performs endless bhoomipoojans? The fact remains that the youngmen have a better opportunity of learning a thing or two about life at the gurdwara than they have in India’s jails. After all, a prayer for Sarbat Da Bhala will not do the legal system any harm. Neither will a few clean thalis and tumblers.


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