October 08, 2008

Bombs and massacres

Plenty of discussion in the comments here over a few days that I had no web access reminds me of plenty of things I've said before and I believe I will say plenty of times again.

1) There are a whole lot of people who believe that bomb blasts (such as in Delhi or Ahmedabad in the last few months) must be treated as infinitely more horrific crimes than other massacres (such as in Gujarat in 2002, or in Delhi in 1984). To me, this comparison makes no sense. There's this simple truth, after all: the massacres kill many more than the blasts (e.g. Bombay 1992-93, about 1000 dead in carnage on the streets, Dec-Jan; about 250 dead in blasts, March).

So these people are left with an unenviable task: explaining why they believe the blasts are worse. Not one of them has ever explained.

Me, I can't see one or the other as more or less horrific -- whether massacres or bombs, regardless of death tolls, they are equally ghastly assaults on us all. All of them deserve to be speedily and firmly punished.

2) You would think that such a call for all these assaults -- whether blasts or massacres -- to be punished would qualify as an impartial call. You would think wrong, at least to the people I refer to in point #1 above. To them, this is a "perspective" that is "selectively applied."

3) There is a continuing effort on the part of, yes, the same people I refer to in point #1 above, to deny any connection between Bombay 1992-93/Gujarat 2002 and the continuing bomb blasts. (To prove they are "unrelated"). This is an effort that defies common sense, for several reasons:

* They must explain what then drives the ghouls who set off these bombs, who often themselves claim they seek (a perverted) "revenge" for the killings of 2002 and 1992-93.

* Even ghouls don't sit up one day and say "Let's have lunch, then go set off bombs and kill people." There is a context to their crime.

* These same people (of point #1) often seem sanguine about accepting a connection between, for example, burning the train in Godhra and the subsequent killings across Gujarat ("revenge" that's just as perverted as what bomb setters invoke). Yet they will not abide a connection between Gujarat 2002 and blasts.

4) That a few criminals invoke such a connection for their acts of terror does not imply that all other criminals do, nor that these few were necessarily personally affected by those killings. After all, I think a grave injustice has been done by not punishing the terrorists responsible for Delhi 1984, or Bombay 1992-93, or Gujarat 2002. I think this even though I was not personally affected -- apart from being seriously scared for my life a few times in 1992-93 and 2002. Even though I think this, I am nauseated by the idea of setting off bombs as "revenge" for those crimes. Yet I can imagine that there are a few out there who translate that awareness of injustice into a twisted revenge.

5) The people I refer to in point #1 like to ascribe bombs to the "demented view" of the bombers who "think they are waging wars against infidels". I agree. In fact, it is exactly the same demented view that drives all violence in the name of religion: all the way from Christians setting off on Crusades, to Hindus slaughtering innocents in Gujarat and Orissa, to Muslims setting off bombs in Bombay.

6) A demand for the guilty to be punished applies to every crime, and it no longer surprises me that there are those who will distract this demand by emptiness such as "what about Radhabai Chawl?" or "what about Godhra?" When I ask for justice for what happened in Bombay in 1992-93, that's somehow assumed to exclude the Radhabai Chawl atrocity. Why? When I ask for justice for what happened in Gujarat in 2002, that's assumed to exclude the Godhra burning. Why? Punish the killers, whoever they are, in every such massacre. Period.

7) A country that cannot find the will to punish the guilty in great crimes had better get used to the reality of more great crimes. Me, I'm getting used to that reality.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks For this article.

I think India must standup and punish guilty weather they are of gujarat killings or delhi bomb blast. People must start feeling that there is Justice and which is FAIR.I believe every one must have a fair shot at life.

Surya

Pareshaan said...

Sorry this is going to be a total digression but are you done with your road trip in the states?

Jai_Choorakkot said...

--- Even ghouls don't sit up one day and say "Let's have lunch, then go set off bombs and kill people." There is a context to their crime. ---

To the extent we differ, we do when winnowing this statement at fine granularity.

Rejecting Godhra-->"aftermath" or any such linkage is a given. But it requires me to be very careful with this context business, the analysis of the motivation of ghouls.

And jeez, do just ignore those who go what abt Radhabai Chawl etc. Not worth a response.

regards,
Jai

Sidhusaaheb said...

Could one of the reasons due to which such people describe communal riots as less horrific than the bomb-blasts be that most of the people killed in communal riots are members of minority communities?

Also, is it mere co-incidence that most such people belong the majority community?

Would the right word to describe such people be bigots?

Nikhil said...

Sorry for the delay, but I just re-read all the comments and the posts and your latest post. The delay was because I wanted to analyze this in detail.
First your comment
‘There are a whole lot of people who believe that bomb blasts (such as in Delhi or Ahmedabad in the last few months) must be treated as infinitely more horrific crimes than other massacres (such as in Gujarat in 2002, or in Delhi in 1984). To me, this comparison makes no sense. There's this simple truth, after all: the massacres kill many more than the blasts (e.g. Bombay 1992-93, about 1000 dead in carnage on the streets, Dec-Jan; about 250 dead in blasts, March).

So these people are left with an unenviable task: explaining why they believe the blasts are worse. Not one of them has ever explained.’

Err – which comment are you referring to precisely? The closest one came to this was Ramki who said this ‘Burning greeting cards is not the same as bombing people’ . Please quote the exact statement that says what you wrote above. If no – then please show the source of the above statement. Else it seems you are only spinning all sorts of tales.
Speaking of myself – all of these are ghastly and all the people responsible for killings of innocents whether in riots, bomb blasts etc should be punished – by the law of the land applied equally and with out doscrimination. So – can we at least lay this issue to rest?
To the next comment
‘You would think that such a call for all these assaults -- whether blasts or massacres -- to be punished would qualify as an impartial call. You would think wrong, at least to the people I refer to in point #1 above. To them, this is a "perspective" that is "selectively applied." ‘
True for the first part of the statement ‘perpetrators of blasts, riots etc should be punished mpartially. – but if you read my comment I have stated all the examples – Relations with Pakistan, Afzal Guru, Radhabhai chawl, where there was no sign of this being applied. This is because everybody has his / her own agenda. So if Teesta Setalvad leaves no stone unturned to rightly get the perptrators of the Best bakery massacre punished and is one of the supporters of the Sri Krishna commission report recommendations, why did she not do the same when the perpetrators of the Radhabhai chawl massacre were acquitted ?
What about our relations with Pakistan and their sheltering of Dawood / Tiger Memon? Would you ever say that peace taks with Pakistan should be continued only when the likes of Dawood / Tiger Memon are handed over for trial.
How about Afzal Guru when the entire human rights industry has closed in after the courts have found him guilty.
Hence my statement of people having their own agendas and lack of justice.

* They must explain what then drives the ghouls who set off these bombs, who often themselves claim they seek (a perverted) "revenge" for the killings of 2002 and 1992-93.

* Even ghouls don't sit up one day and say "Let's have lunch, then go set off bombs and kill people." There is a context to their crime.
First have you spoken to these so called ghouls and gotten the reasons from them? Please ask them whether they would cease to set off blasts once justice has been delivered for Bombay 92 and Gujarat 2002?
Yes. There is a context – which I mentioned. If you read all the e mails, the point being emhasized is what I have mentioned – Gujarat and Mumbai are just mentioned. Are we at least now prepared to acknowledge the fact that there has been radicalization among a section of muslims?
What about the doctor who drove an explosive laden car into glasgow. As far as I can remember there has been no Gujarat- like riot anywhere in Britain for the last 2 decades. Even an islamic sountry like Malaysia sees these radicals such as Jemmah Islamiah who fortunately were arrested before they could cause much damage. BTW, these people in Malaysia enjoy reservations and all benefits.
Closer home there have been news reports of people from Kerala involving these blasts. Even Kerala has not seen riots for a long time.
Using the same logic, can I use the same explanation for the rioters actions?
In Orissa, it has been against aggressive proselitization.
Elsewhere we can claim that even rioters do not get up one morning and decide to riot and attack members of another community. They have their grievances – personal laws, Pakistan problem etc etx
All this will be only explanations and not justification of riots.
So at the end there is no answer from dilip – only all forms of spins and theories.
Nothing more to add to rhis discussion from my side.
BTW please provide the link for the Swapan article. Could not find it on the outlook website.