Last July, a few days after bomb blasts in Bombay, a man called Raj Thackeray said a few things at a public meeting.
According to Loksatta, this is what he said: "Anyone who takes up a case of terrorists responsible for killing hundreds of innocent people in the Mumbai bomb blasts will not be allowed to move around on the streets."
According to the Hindustan Times, this is what he said: "We will thrash the advocates who take up the case for the accused in the recent bomb blast case."
Thackeray denied much of this when taken to court in November. But he did tell the court: "[W]hat was said ... by me was that my party would stage demonstrations against lawyers who did accept the brief of the accused in the said bomb blasts."
(All quotes from this report).
On January 11, a man called Cully Stimson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Detainee Affairs in the US Department of Defense, said a few things in an interview on Federal New Radio.
According to the Washington Post, this is what he said about American law firms defending men detained in Guantánamo: "I think, quite honestly, when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms."
What's more, Stimson asserted that these firms were funded by "monies from who knows where".
(Quotes from this report).
Echoes of Raj Thackeray?
Well, one of the lawyers in one of those firms with clients in Guantánamo responded to Cully Stimson with an open letter, calling it Why I defend "terrorists". You will find it here (you have to wade through an ad, but I assure you it is worth it).
It is an eloquent, moving letter. It says to me that the writer understands the essence of America -- for that matter, India -- in far greater measure than Cully Stimson does and ever might.
And perhaps I'm being silly, but I feel an unaccountable pride that the name of this lawyer who wrote this letter is Anant Raut.
I don't know you, Anant Raut. But may many more like you bloom.