Attack on Sharad Pawar – Why no Outright Condemnation?

Many feel that the guy who slapped Sharad Pawar is a hero. The more savvy commenters pay lip service to the notion of non violence. Typical statements go like this – “I agree that violence is not the answer…BUT etc etc”. or “Slapping an old man is unacceptable…BUT etc etc”. “We shouldn’t take matters into our own hands…BUT!”

No "Buts". This guy is a thug
No "Buts". This guy is a thug

There’s always a “But” woven into the sentence. As if they agree with the principle and still applaud the the act. As if it was justifiable somehow. Let me therefore state categorically for the record – there is absolutely no justification for physical violence.

Instead of explaining myself, here are two instances showcasing the “but…etc etc.” culture.


Incident One:

Salman Taseer was murdered almost a year ago. His crime? Daring to raise his voices against the oppressive blasphemy law in Pakistan. The big problem is that the law is hugely popular there. The overwhelming majority of people feel that freedom of expression is dangerous. Even among the educated class, statements like this were frequent:

“Salman Taseer should not have been killed. At the same time….etc etc”

“Violence is unacceptable, but the people’s anger etc etc.”

“There’s no justification for killing someone. Nevertheless…etc etc”

If the more educated statements were of this sort, you can imagine the outpouring of support for Taseer’s killer in Pakistani society at large. Roses were strewn on his path when he was taken to court and there was no shortage of lawyers eager to spring to his defense. Most think that he should be hailed as a national hero in Pakistan.

While closer to home:

Prashant Bhushan was severely beaten up by a group of thugs for speaking his mind on Kashmir. Apparently, speaking of a plebiscite in Kashmir was enough to invalidate his right to freedom of expression. It’s not a secret that many die hard Indian “patriots” are against a Kashmiri plebiscite. So they employed the above tactic of superficially condemning the attack on Bhushan, and then adding the word “But!.”

Here are some actual statements from the comments section:

“Prashant has the media to highlight his views on Kashmir and call it freedom of speech. But…etc etc”

“What happened is insane and what prashant bhushan thinks is his own philosophy but…etc etc.”

“I condemn this act. But…etc etc”

” I m not supporting attack on Bhushan, but…etc etc “

Do you see the similarities? The response to the assault on Sharad Pawar is only the latest incarnation of this duplicitous speech. I don’t have any great love for politicians. But tomorrow it could be any one of us who is attacked for saying something unpopular and going by the example of how the public reacts, the thugs will be emboldened the next time.

So let’s put an end to this “but” culture. This is not to say that all issues are black and white. Many have gray areas. However, there’s a line. Physical violence is unacceptable. Let’s stand up and draw that line clearly in the sand. And not tolerate any transgressions by condemning them fully and without qualifications.

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15 thoughts on “Attack on Sharad Pawar – Why no Outright Condemnation?”

  1. A friend and I were talking on this very topic today morning, not so surprisingly perhaps. Actually there is no place for ‘but’ here. The line should clearly be drawn against physical violence.


  2. The severity and seriousness of the “but” is also a function of the recipient of the violence. Sukhram, ex minister telecom, and convicted by the courts was hit by this same slapper while coming out of court last week. Hardly any noise. Pawar get hit. And there are people going “tsk tsk, (…but…)” .
    Even the way our security chaps handle things is different. They should have wrestled the fellow down and checked him for weapons and de-armed him . What did the security do ? They slapped the slapper back, and hit him.

    What message is being sent to the public ?


  3. Yes, physical violence has to be shunned. I had the discussion with a friend of mine. We went through the “OH NO! that shouldnt be done. Its such a shame” to the “Wow! someone had the guts to do such a thing and actually LIVE” and then to the”He does deserve it though, why isnt he doing what he should do for the people who put him up there?”

    Somehow as much as we were ashamed at what was done and the way it was handled, we realized that somewhere within our psyche we do feel the helplessness due to the system of not getting justice in TIME, and that frustration manifests in such events. If Justice is not done immediately after a crime, somehow it doesnt carry the same redeeming factor as when it does.

    Forgiving even when justice is not served, is for the realm of the Saints and most of us arent, we only aspire in our moments of clarity to be one. The very fact that we perceived a crime and want justice, removes us from the path of Sainthood. So yes, while I draw the line for Physical/Mental violence, I do understand why not everyone draws the line where I do.


    • In reply to Mysoul

      I think the biggest problem with violence is that it rewards those with the biggest muscles. Muscles don’t care for who is right or wrong. Might is right.

      A lot of Indias feel outraged that M F Husain was able to paint what he felt. Like your feelings above, they felt helpless and not getting the justice they thought the deserved in time. They perceived a crime and wanted justice.

      So when the goons came and vandalized Husain’s work, many people were thrilled!

      What I’m trying to say is that it’s all very well to feel pleased at what happened to Pawar. But tomorrow one of us could be assaulted for saying something people don’t like…like Prashant Bhushan. There will be no one to stand up for us then to help us because the precedent of using violence against those whom we don’t like has been set.


  4. I understand at some point I might be at the receiving end of such an event. So the only person who can stand up for me at that time is ME. Which is why I draw the line. I agree we must set a precedent that doesnt allow violence against anyone(whether we like them, dont like them or are indifferent to them shouldnt be a factor) for any reason. For now, this is our reality. Even if I am against what was done, I cant change what was done. We can make/implement laws where people will be fined or confined for using any form of physical violence against anyone(which in a round about way is mental violence against the perpetrator’s way of thinking). But for that we should be able to first ensure Injustice doesnt happen. How do we do that when the Idea of Crime, Punishment, Injustice, Violence, Freedom, Forgiving etc. is such a subjective one?

    All I am trying to say is – It will take time for All of Humanity to agree on the boundaries for those subjective Ideas. We have a long way to go before our attitudes change. Change happens when we are moved from the inside, out. Until then, these kind of events will happen. Some of us will be ashamed and appalled at it, while some will applaud it.


  5. People are seeing Harvinder Singh as a hero because in India “HEROES” are that way..they break the rules,they kill the politicians(corrupted and at times not corrupted too),they are not scared of police or judiciary..

    And now as the media has celebrated the “slap”,I am sure more heroes are their way :) :) :)


  6. Violence is not the solution, in fact it’s very dangerous to encourage or support it, no matter how much delight it gives to an average citizen to watch someone they disapprove of being shamed/killed/slapped etc.


  7. You seem to be violently opposed to all forms of violence. I have a question (not related to the post). What is your stand on self defense? Will you resort to hurting someone if your safety or that of your near and dear ones is endangered and hurting the other person is the only way out?


    • In reply to Nitin Joshi

      Only if there is a certainty that they are about to attack you. Either a credible threat is made, or they’re picking up a weapon. If there’s enough time, then you must call the police and not attack yourself.


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