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Was India’s mother of all blackouts engineered by the UPA government during Anna Hazare’s movement for transparency?

TOPSHOTS A supporter of Indian activist Anna Hazare wears a mask on the first day of Hazare's 3 day-long fast in Mumbai on December 27, 2011. The 74-year-old former soldier, Hazare, along with volunteers of his India Against Corruption (IAC) organisation embarks on a fresh hunger strike against a proposed new law to tackle endemic graft. At least 40,000 people a day are expected to attend the three-day fast in the city's northern suburbs, organisers said, even though lawmakers are still debating the planned legislation in parliament. The former army driver's latest high-profile protest comes amid question marks over the integrity of his anti-corruption movement, as well as criticism that he is riding roughshod over the democratic process. AFP PHOTO/ Indranil MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

Today morning the electric pole supplying power to around two dozen houses in my neighbourhood went up in flames, leading to an immediate power failure in the colony. The geyser, the hairdryer, the microwave were out of service and I just managed to heat up a small pan of water in the stove to complete my brushing rituals.

This outage brought back memories of the 2012 power cut, considered to be the mother of all blackouts. The northern grids failed on 30th and 31st July, which resulted in the world’s biggest power blackout that affected over 62 crore Indians across 22 states, including Delhi, due to poor infrastructure. The monsoon was late that year, and the hydro stations were not generating enough electricity. Also, the humid summer demanded more power, leading ultimately to the protracted blackout.

Indian Railways
The power outage affected 62 crore Indians across 22 states, including Delhi

In Delhi, railways halted several trains, the metros stopped midway, high-rise lifts stopped functioning and traffic lights went off. It was chaos – traffic snarls, people travelling in the metro had to be helped by the disaster management team to get down from the midway mayhem. It crippled our lives.

Before the blackout, Team Anna Hazare sat on an indefinite hunger strike in Delhi, demanding the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill (People’s Ombudsman Bill). Anna Hazare joined the fast just a day ahead of the long outage. He threatened to proceed with his fast-unto-death move, stating that India’s future is not safe in the hands of Congress and BJP.

Delhi Metro failure
Hundreds of passengers were stranded during the July 2012 blackout when the Delhi Metro failed to resume its services

Anna Hazare was a crowd-puller, and his movement had many followers, including prominent social activists. With the metro connecting the suburbs of the national capital, people were coming in hordes to render their support to Anna Hazare. The blackout led to traffic jams, and the metro stopped functioning, thereby thinning the crowd to a great extent.

Team Anna Hazare was suspicious that the blackout was a conspiracy by the UPA government to weaken the movement. It was engineered by the ruling party to prevent people from reaching the morcha grounds, Anna Hazare’s supporters claimed.

Anna Hazare
Supporters of Hazare claimed the power outage was an attempt by the UPA government to sabotage the Anna rally

It was obvious that India’s first such major outage set the tongues wagging. Some also claimed China was party to the blackout because parts of India’s grid equipment are imported from there. Apparently, it was a test run by China to disable Indian infrastructure and see if this could affect a war between the two countries. Yet another theory suggested the entire power was robbed of the people and directed to an ominous nuclear experiment of India.

The last theory is a bit too much to digest, bringing to mind the fact that the blackout also trapped miners in eastern India, and enveloped hospitals in darkness.

What do we have here? Why must we succumb to bits and pieces of information designed to keep us out of the loop?