Behind The Screams India

Times When Human Needs (Not Humans) Were Held As Hostage

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Holding humans as the hostage is scary. But what is even scarier is holding resources hostage during riots and conflicts. When resources are blocked by the anguish protesters, the effects can be felt in the entire district, city or even state. Imagine, protestors cutting water supply of the entire city.

But, why do protestors resort to these tactics? It’s simple, to get the attention of the government and get their demands met.

Here are 5 essentials of life that were held hostage during such riots:

Riots and conflicts

1. Water

Water being the essential need of people, is an easy target for the protestors. And that’s exactly what the Jat community did in 2016. The community cut the water supply from the canal which supplied water to most of Delhi. The angry protestors broke the canal’s gate and damaged the operating system. Results? A whopping 10 million Delhiites without water.  Unfulfilled promises of the government to provide reservations under OBC led to this move. Likewise, the farmers in Aurangabad (Maharashtra) blocked the water supply of the city.

This lead to a physical fight during which two police inspectors were hurt. The farmers were demanding proper compensation for their land which was used for the construction of Gokul barrage along with a government job for one member of the family.

2. Transport

This year, the Dalit protests in Pune and Mumbai lead to huge public damage, out of which, transport was badly hit. The clash between the Dalits and upper class, mainly Marathas, led to serious communal tension and death of a Dalit. This angered the entire community. They soon took hostage of the lifeline of Mumbai- local trains. The protestors blocked the tracks and attempted a rail blockade. This hampered the entire railways and road traffic. The roads, including the Mumbai Pune highway, was blocked which paralyzed various areas in Maharashtra. Not just the trains, several public buses too were damaged. The state transport buses suffered a loss of 20 crore due to the statewide bandh.

3. Daily necessities

What happens when daily necessities are hampered with? Umm…higher prices, confused citizens and enough mayhem to get the attention of the government and public.

In June 2017, the farmers (Kisan Kranti Jan Andolan) in Maharashtra disrupted the milk supply in the state to get their demands fulfilled. Apart from spilling milk on the road, many other agricultural products too like fruits, vegetables and food grains were held as hostage. This led to a sharp dip in the wholesale markets causing a shortage of these daily essentials. The markets in cities Nashik, Aurangabad and Ahmednagar were completely shut. The days which followed saw a 100% rise in the vegetable prices. This also led to confusion among many consumers, who were buying more supplies to avoid paying higher prices later.     

4. Sources of energy

With their demands falling on deaf ears, the farmers in Rajasthan took the step to block the power supply as the last resort. The farmers in that area had been demanding better power supply for agricultural purposes.

Another such a protest included holding back the supply of coal, a source of energy that is needed for a lot of purposes like electricity, running factories and so on. Half a million miners forcibly shut down CIL’s coal mines that are responsible for 80% of India’s coal supply. The miners were protesting against the government’s move to commercialize mining of coal. This strike has chilling impacts in several industries dependent on coal and led to power cuts with a daily loss calculated to approximately Rs. 1500 crore.   

5. Internet

In 2017, the state of Madhya Pradesh faced one of the worst farmer’s agitations. The farmers forced the administration to cut down the internet connections. As a result, mobile internet was cut down in 3 districts in MP.

But however, this move proved to be a nightmare for many students in the state. There were course enrolment deadlines, online entrance tests and merit lists, which the students were unable to access. As there was a pressing demand for internet, the online kiosks hiked the prices from Rs. 50 to Rs.300. Soon, access to social media apps like Whatsapp too was curbed, making the situations worst.

With rising disruption of livelihood and sentiments, concrete measures should be taken by the government and the people. While the government has been neglecting the demands of the masses, people end up protesting or facing the burden of the outcome. Both government and the state should work in coordination with each other by not neglecting the demands but providing real time solutions while supporting resource management.

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