January 20, 2007

Why he defends them

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.


Prasoon said...

That was a beautiful read Dilip. I wonder if Afzal falls in the same category of terrorists - somehow Arundhati Roy makes me believe her of what her book "13 December" says. i happened to read her article in Outlook and was fazed - i wonder what the truth is but I wish, it just comes out pretty soon and in right light but I really doubt the intentions of the Govt.

Santhosh said...


Thanks for the article, and great comparison to event at Mumbai.

I also found a podcast of Anant Raut speaking in a radio show. You can find it here:


Unknown said...

Thanks for an extraordinary post and the wonderful utterly inspiring article by Anant raut. Just when one is in despair about the state of the world, one is lucky enough to read such wonderful posts by you and therefore get introduced to the thoroughly inspiring idealism of Anant Raut. Thankyou.

Jai_Choorakkot said...

Moving article by Anant Raut. Lets go easy on the comparison to India though.

It still says something for the US that:

1. its an immigrant Indian lawyer at the heights of his profession there.

2. the #1 question he is getting is

"How can a place like Guantánamo continue to exist?"

3. Sorry for this nitpick but his representation seems (from the drive of his article) to be motivated by a belief that most detainees are innocent. "Bulk of them were wrong place- wrong time"

It would be possible to extrapolate that if he actually thought them guilty he wouldn't have bothered.

This above is obviously an assumption on my part. Sorry again for #3 which may be "difficult to understand".


Jai_Choorakkot said...

Where I was coming from (previous comment):

Ram Jethmalani's defending Manu Sharma. The lawyer doesnt need to consider his client's guilt / innocence.

Maybe in going pro-bono he does...


Anonymous said...

I agree with Jai on #3.

Thanks for sharing this, Dilip.