A mob of students set on fire four coaches of a train in Bihar because the railway police asked some ticketless ones to get off. This is reportedly the third such incident in three months.
Such casual violence may seem a small matter, given the larger threats from terrorists sent from across the border or Naxalite insurrections. The estimated monetary cost of Rs3.5 crore is not a huge amount in the larger scheme of things either. But the arson in Bihar tells us a lot about the state of our civic and political cultures.
Students have been used as storm troopers by all sorts of political movements, even including Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement for total revolution in 1974. They have thrived on a warped sense of rights, a contempt for the law and a glorification of protest.
Bihar has been one of the worst states in this matter. But the record elsewhere has not been much better.
The police have promised tough actions against the rioters and those who have encouraged them. Alas, we hear this too often, but rarely see credible action.