One of the fundamental principles of a functioning democracy is equality in the eyes of the law. Every single resident, not just a citizen, in a democracy must be treated on par with the rest of the population. There is absolutely no room for distinction or discrimination based on religion, colour of the skin, economic status or even education.
Which is why the vigilantism of Delhi’s new Law Minister Somnath Bharti in chasing down two African women and then subjecting them to a humiliating experience by suspecting them of drug-running should not only be condemned in the strongest words, but also be the grounds for his sacking. Instead, the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has defended his minister, who then went on to comment that the Indian government is covering up the Ugandan women’s involvement in an alleged sex and drug racket because the Indian High Commission in that country is involved in sex trafficking.
While the members of the Kejriwal state government are playing to the gallery – there is an inherent race-related discrimination against African-origin people in the localities that Bharti exhibited his concern for society – it is also true that the Delhi Police have not been very forthcoming in their alleged desire to help the city’s residents with law and order problems, especially those emanating from drug trafficking. This was precisely the reason that the residents approached the minister, and not the police.
Emboldened by the trust of the people, the minister seemed to have taken it upon himself to apprehend whichever African-origin person comes in front of him. He later kept women journalists waiting at a protest march by using a toilet meant for women. Clearly, here is a man who has scant regard for decorum or gender equality or race relations.
Should a man who does not hold the torch of equality serve as minister, leave alone law minister, in any government? The answer is a clear no.
And that is what chief minister Kejriwal must do – sack his errant minister.