2014 election campaign

This election is a fight for honour and revenge, Amit Shah tells Jat audience in riot areas

Anti-Muslim rhetoric runs high as the BJP election manager in Uttar Pradesh addresses meetings in areas torn apart by riots in September.

On Thursday, SDJ high school in Raajhar village, 40 km from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, was preparing to receive an important visitor. The teachers were stringing up marigold garlands in the computer labs. Folk musicians were singing raginis that satirically spoke of the emasculation of all men under the present government.

The chief guest arrived four-and-a half hours late. “I got delayed because of the broken roads in the area,” said Amit Shah, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manager in Uttar Pradesh. “When Narendra Modi comes to power, each village will have proper roads and electricity.”

Shah, 50, is the former Home Minister of Gujarat who has been accused in a fake encounter case and was asked by the Supreme Court of India in 2010 to stay away from the state to prevent him from influencing witnesses. He was accompanied to the meeting by BJP legislator Suresh Rana, who was imprisoned for 12 days for his role in precipitating riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in August and September that left 49 people dead.

Since the Raajhar event was billed as a private meeting with the Jat community organised by Amit Pawar, an industrialist who owns mines in Indonesia, Shah did not use the microphone to address the gathering of 400 Jat men for the fear of violating the model code of conduct.

Raajhar village is the headquarters of the Batteesaa Khaps, a sub-group of the Jat community that dominates this sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh. Western Uttar Pradesh has 25 out of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh. Jats have been the traditional vote base of Ajit Singh’s Rashtra Lok Dal. But this September, after the communal riots in the area between Jats and Muslims, the Jat vote began to shift towards the BJP, which won only 10 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in the state.

In the wake of the riots, the BJP not only managed to repackage the Jat identity into that of a larger Hindu one but also deflect attention from the bad governance of its own candidates. It fanned the demand for the withdrawal of the 356 cases against members of the Jat community for rioting, polarising voters on communal lines.

Though the crowd applauded as Shah blamed the bad roads for his unpunctuality, his explanation didn’t cut much ice. After all, the constituency has been ruled by BJP MLA Hukum Singh for over two decades. Singh is one of the 16 political leaders accused of sparking off the Muzaffarnagar riots, and was the Lok Sabha candidate for whom Shah is campaigning.

Suddenly, one man shouted, “We have only two demands: there should be a separate law to ban same gotra self-choice marriages under the Hindu law and all cases against Jats in the communal riots must be withdrawn.”

Shah raised his hand to reassure the man. “For the integrity of this community, the answer is Modi government,” he said. “Not the government who gives compensation to those who killed Jats.”

Shah added, “This is the time to avenge. The leaders standing next to me” – he pointed to Suresh Rana and Hukum Singh – “have also been humiliated. A man can sleep hungry but not humiliated. This is the time to take revenge by voting for Modi. This will defeat both the governments: the one at the Centre and UP government who lathi-charged and tortured our leaders.”

The honour theme spilled over into the next meeting in the Raja Rani banquet hall in Shamli district.  This time, Shah was joined by Ajit Singh, the headman of Lissad, one of villages worst affected in the riots, who stands accused of fanning the violence. Several khap leaders of the Jat community were also present.

The meeting started with a request from Udayvir Pehelka, an octogenarian Jat leader: “If Amit Shah has come to talk to us, he must promise that he will help us withdraw all the false cases against the Jats and secondly, address a national problem, which is to control the population of this country, else soon enough votes from our community will not count and only” – he stopped to make a sign indicating a beard under his chin –  “they will be present everywhere”.

When Shah took the stage, he declared, “This election is the election of honour and revenge.” He said that women in UP were not safe. “And when we protect them, we are called rioters because Mullah Mulayam is busy defending the minority”, he said, making a reference to the support Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party gives to the area’s Muslims.

Shah quoted a Narendra Modi’s tweet, promising “to stop pink revolution and start green revolution”. The pink revolution referred to the slaughter of cows and animals, he explained. “Beggars have turned millionaires by running butcher houses,” Shah claimed, taking another swipe at the area’s Muslim community.

He ended by invoking Pakistan, rhetoric that always plays well for a community that sends large numbers of members to the security forces. “When Narendra Modi comes to power on May 16, Pakistan will learn a lesson for beheading our three soldiers,” Shah said. “Uttar Pradesh has always played a role in change. This time western Uttar Pradesh must ensure that Modi comes to power!”

 
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The incredible engineering that can save your life in a car crash

Indian roads are among the world’s most dangerous. We take a look at the essential car safety features for our road conditions.

Over 200,000 people die on India’s roads every year. While many of these accidents can be prevented by following road safety rules, car manufacturers are also devising innovative new technology to make vehicles safer than ever before. To understand how crucial this technology is to your safety, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a car accident.

Source: Global report on road safety, 2015 by WHO.
Source: Global report on road safety, 2015 by WHO.

A car crash typically has three stages. The first stage is where the car collides with an object. At the point of collision, the velocity with which the car is travelling gets absorbed within the car, which brings it to a halt. Car manufacturers have incorporated many advanced features in their cars to prevent their occupants from ever encountering this stage.

Sixth sense on wheels

To begin with, some state-of-the-art vehicles have fatigue detection systems that evaluate steering wheel movements along with other signals in the vehicle to indicate possible driver fatigue–one of the biggest causes of accidents. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is the other big innovation that can prevent collisions. ESP typically encompasses two safety systems–ABS (anti-lock braking system), and TCS (traction control system). Both work in tandem to help the driver control the car on tricky surfaces and in near-collision situations. ABS prevents wheels from locking during an emergency stop or on a slippery surface, and TCS prevents the wheels from spinning when accelerating by constantly monitoring the speed of the wheels.

Smarter bodies, safer passengers

In the event of an actual car crash, manufacturers have been redesigning the car body to offer optimal protection to passengers. A key element of newer car designs includes better crumple zones. These are regions which deform and absorb the impact of the crash before it reaches the occupants. Crumple zones are located in the front and rear of vehicles and some car manufacturers have also incorporated side impact bars that increase the stiffness of the doors and provide tougher resistance to crashes.

CRUMPLE ZONES: Invented in the 1950s, crumple zones are softer vehicle sections that surround a safety cell that houses passengers. In a crash, these zones deform and crumple to absorb the shock of the impact. In the visual, the safety cell is depicted in red, while the crumple zones of the car surround the safety cell.
CRUMPLE ZONES: Invented in the 1950s, crumple zones are softer vehicle sections that surround a safety cell that houses passengers. In a crash, these zones deform and crumple to absorb the shock of the impact. In the visual, the safety cell is depicted in red, while the crumple zones of the car surround the safety cell.

Post-collision technology

While engineers try to mitigate the effects of a crash in the first stage itself, there are also safe guards for the second stage, when after a collision the passengers are in danger of hitting the interiors of the car as it rapidly comes to a halt. The most effective of these post-crash safety engineering solutions is the seat belt that can reduce the risk of death by 50%.

In the third stage of an actual crash, the rapid deceleration and shock caused by the colliding vehicle can cause internal organ damage. Manufacturers have created airbags to reduce this risk. Airbags are installed in the front of the car and have crash sensors that activate and inflate it within 40 milliseconds. Many cars also have airbags integrated in the sides of the vehicles to protect from side impacts.

SEATBELTS: Wearing seatbelts first became mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970, and is now common across the world. Modern seatbelts absorb impact more efficiently, and are equipped with ‘pre-tensioners’ that pull the belt tight to prevent the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.
SEATBELTS: Wearing seatbelts first became mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970, and is now common across the world. Modern seatbelts absorb impact more efficiently, and are equipped with ‘pre-tensioners’ that pull the belt tight to prevent the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.

Safety first

In the West as well as in emerging markets like China, car accident related fatalities are much lower than in India. Following traffic rules and driving while fully alert remain the biggest insurance against mishaps, however it is also worthwhile to fully understand the new technologies that afford additional safety.

So the next time you’re out looking for a car, it may be a wise choice to pick an extra airbag over custom leather seats or a swanky music system. It may just save your life.

Equipped with state-of-the-art passenger protection systems like ESP and fatigue detection systems, along with high-quality airbags and seatbelts, all Volkswagen cars have the safety of passengers at the heart of their design. Watch Volkswagen customer stories and driver experiences that testify its superior German engineering, here.

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This article was produced on behalf of Volkswagen by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.

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