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AAP & Kejriwal

No number of anti-corruption drives can make up for the physical assault, intimidation, forced medical testing, public humiliation and racist, sexist profiling of four women. Creating, even successfully  implementing populist policies can not be currency for implementing populist violence and prejudice.

And honesty/integrity/’chori to nahin kiya’ can’t really be justification for their current actions. Four women, foreigners, already dealing with India’s horrible attitude to women compounded a hundred times by the fact that they look different, already dealing with India’s horrible racism to people of darker skin compounded by the fact that they were women living alone, suddenly find themselves being pulled out of home by the state’s Law Minister, an arguable powerful man, aided by what can only be described as a self-appointed posse of moral police consisting of random men off the streets (considering the actual police refused to do anything without a warrant).

They’re forced to give urine samples and undergo random drug testing – why? Because some neighbors assumed they were prostitutes. Well, my neighbors assumed I was a prostitute, when I took one “too many” day trips in Mumbai working with an MNC and reached home after sunset. I was questioned point-blank by the Uncleji in charge of ‘family values’ and told “yeh sab jo aap kar rahe ho woh yahan, is colony mein nahin chalega”. I asked him, still politely, just what he thought I was doing, to which he said “mera muh mat khulvao… Which decent girl would live by herself, routinely come home to an empty apartment..”, and other stuff on those lines. So forgive me if I have zero sympathy for India’s all-pervasive neighborhood moral watch.

And assume, for a minute, that these women *were* sex workers. Does that make their state-sponsored (rather, mob-sponsored, since this was all unofficial and illegal) violation any less wrong?

The only way the dear Law Minister can be absolutely sure that these women were prostitutes, at least, did prostitution once, is if he himself was a client. And clients are – or should be – just as criminal as the women themselves.

The reason this whole thing is a reflection of AAP and not just of standard Delhi racism/sexism/disregard for personal privacy etc is that Arvind Kejriwal doubled down and supported his very wrong minister. Him asking why the women (I’m paraphrasing), if innocent, refused to give blood samples without a warrant is a ridiculous argument – either he’s actually stupid – which he’s not – or the CM of India’s capital is ignorant of basic precepts that our Constitution is based on, or he’s playing politics because he assumes he’ll have public support even when his demands are wrong.

I’m not “expecting too much, too soon” from the AAP or the new Delhi government. I don’t care if they do nothing except read old files for the first few weeks – even for a few months. I’m *not* okay with them trampling over individual rights – of the women in question, prostitutes or not – and even the rights of the cops to due process. And I’m surely not okay with them doing all this in the name of protecting women. I trust – or trusted – their intentions so far, and will be okay with plenty of missteps – the flip side of freshness/youth/hope etc is inexperience. The problem with the current fracas is that their *intentions* now seem tainted, and that is not okay. We expect better *intentions* from the AAP; even if we’re okay with shoddy execution.

To the warrant/Delhi police jurisdiction question – the CM of Delhi has never had command over Delhi Police. Whether that is a sensible chain of command  or not, going outside the system with a dharna is not how you effect basic organization structure change. This philosophy of going nuclear, of agitation outside the system, worked and was popular for the Jan Lokpal Bill agitations because (a) there was and is an actual crisis of corruption in India, and broad public awareness and agreement regarding this crisis and (b) there were legitimate, sincere attempts to follow due process to create a Lokpall Bill for close to *forty years* by hundreds of people and groups, all thwarted arrogantly by various state and Central ruling parties and people.

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