On Wednesday morning, two bits of news caught my eye, and neither of them had anything to do with 2G or Wikileaks or the Ashes.
One was about a man who got into an argument with another man over a seat in a train, and suddenly picked up the other man's 4 year-old daughter and threw her off the train.
The other was about a bomb blast on the Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi, which killed a 2 year-old girl and injured about two dozen others.
Both items left me nauseated. What kind of sickos set off bombs in public places, intent on killing innocent people? What kind of sicko would throw a little girl off a train, no matter what his argument with her father?
My assumption is that others out there feel just as nauseated. My assumption, equally, is that others out there will assume that much about me.
Yet such assumptions founder on comments of the kind I invariably get when such events happen, like these that I got that refer to the Varanasi tragedy:
"any plans for disaster tourism in Varanasi? I guess no.. and we all know why.."
"I can bet Rs. 100 that you will never try to visit the parents of the 2 year old who died.. and will never ever write about it."
"Khush ho gaye DD Boss? now that their is a blast in Varanasi.. claiming to celebrate the 18th.."
We have here a person whose first reaction -- absolutely the first -- to this atrocity is, "let me get on DD's blog and taunt him."
We have here a person who actually thinks I am happy about this murder. I cannot begin to understand how any sane person would think this way. Except for this: he himself is glad about other atrocities, and seeks to project this inhumanity on those whose thinking he disagrees with.
I have visited Kashmiri Pandit camps, and relief camps in Gujarat and Bombay. I have spoken to bomb-blast and riot victims in Bombay and Delhi hospitals, families of victims of that fire on the train in Godhra. I have travelled sometimes long distances to spend time with families of soldiers who were killed on our borders (one the morning I wrote this). I have got to know the wives and children of men killed in police custody in West Bengal and in Maharashtra, of farmers who committed suicide in Vidarbha.
Yet I can always be sure that there will be people who will say, "You must be happy about the death of that two year-old."
And it makes me wonder, what has happened to our country that people like this have lost some basic, essential humanity?