Diwali is one of the most important festivals for Hindus across the world. However in Bharat, while political victories or celebrity weddings or even the return from jail of a Bollywood entertainer’s son accused of drug abuse can be ‘celebrated’ by setting off firecrackers, Hindus celebrating their festivals are being treated like criminals.
Citizens celebrating Diwali arrested
In a Hindu majority country, Hindus being arrested for bursting crackers on Diwali has become a regular feature under the secular Bharatiya state. This year was no different with several people being arrested for the ‘crime’ of bursting firecrackers. Some of the instances of citizens being arrested for possessing, supplying, or purchasing have been listed below.
The police have been flaunting their ‘achievements’ regarding the crackdown on those buying, selling, possessing, or bursting crackers. Media was also quick to point out how laws were being ‘flouted’.
The firecracker ban
Several state governments had imposed a firecracker ban with the Delhi government reportedly beefing up security and the Delhi police threatening to arrest those people found selling or bursting firecrackers. Similarly, the Haryana BJP government had also banned firecrackers in 14 NCR districts. Although the Rajasthan government reversed its decision later, it had also banned the sale and purchase of crackers while permitting only ‘green crackers’.
“Besides, Delhi, authorities in Gautam Buddh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, have invoked Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which prohibits gatherings of four or more individuals in a public location. The ban was put in place on October 31 and will be in effect until November 30”, reported OpIndia.
Citizens celebrate Diwali with gutso
Year after year restrictions are placed on Hindus with regard to festive celebrations and they are treated like criminals for simply expressing their joy on festive occasions. The citizens, however, seem to have had enough of these kinds of restrictions being placed on the majority community alone. Common citizens were, therefore, seen registering their opposition by being defiant despite the threat of cases being filed against them.
The trend #PatakhaTwitter set the social media site on fire just like firecrackers by citizens kept the festive spirit alive.
In all the grandstanding by governments and bodies such as National Green Tribunal regarding ‘pollution’ caused by firecrackers, we are forgetting the plight of fireworks manufacturers who are suffering heavy losses due to such unilateral decisions.
The losses caused by such thoughtless decisions is so huge that it has pushed many small and medium businesses to the verge of bankruptcy. The firecracker industry at South 24 Pargana’s Champahati that provides employment to around 30000 people and has an estimated annual turnover of INR 150 crores is a case in point.
The biggest firecrackers industry is located in Tamil Nadu’s Sivakasi which has been adversely suffering due to the ban during Diwali when sales are usually at their peak.
“Many of the workers are women. Their children have nowhere else to be, so next to their mothers, they play in groups, swaying from makeshift swings made from old blankets and sarees hung from the ceiling. By the middle of the day on October 20, even before lunch, two workers approach Kartheeswaran and ask what to do next. Their work for the day is done. Two weeks before Diwali, in Sivakasi, the question borders on the absurd. If we have another situation like last year, there is no way our factory or the industry will survive, Kartheeswaran says”, says an HT report.
This is the situation across factories in Sivakasi that are collapsing. It is estimated that around INR 6000 crores worth of fireworks are produced in Sivakasi. Factory owners say the total number of people working in fireworks and allied industries in the Virdhunagar district, where Sivakasi is located, could be around 800,000.
The annual Diwali guessing game is killing both Hindu festivities and industries that are dependent on it, that too at a time when industries require economic boosting owing to the pandemic situation.