July 14, 2011

Trash-flinging continues

On the train to Dadar, a painfully thin man wearing a silver and grey Adidas jacket plays the harmonica. Quite beautifully, too, though I don't know any of the tunes. It's one of those instruments with stops too, like one I have. When he's done our eyes meet and I give him a thumbs up. He comes over and I tell him, you played well. We get talking about music and I mention that I play too.

His eyes light up and he pulls the instrument out of his pocket. "Play something", he says. I launch into "Jaaneman jaaneman", from "Chhoti Si Baat". People are watching, listening.

And I'm feeling sadder and sadder with this song from a much simpler, more naive time. Who would have thought, in those balmy years of the mid-70s, there's random terror in our future?

I get off at Dadar and find my way through the rain to Kabutarkhana, where a bomb went off about 90 minutes earlier. The police have cordoned off the area, so nobody can get closer to the spot than about 50 metres. Several Toyota Innovas with dishes on top are present, thick cables from these vehicles snake underfoot, knots of people form here and there. The knots, I realize, are made up of spectators hoping to catch a glimpse of a TV correspondent as he files his report, and perhaps stick their faces into the broadcast. This may be why the knots, in this time of tragedy, seem filled with cheery, bantering, laughing, joking young men. The incongruity is something fierce.

Beyond the rope that holds us back, a troop of khaki-clad policemen, one carrying a long gun, suddenly turn on their heel and march away, towards the other side of the cordoned-off area. Beside me, a man points to a bus-stop there. "That's where it happened," he says in Marathi. "9 dead, they say, I'm sure it's double that." Then, inexplicably, he asks me what happened here. A few others turn their heads to listen to what I might have to say. By virtue of having been here 15 minutes longer than him, I'm an expert. He's carrying a large umbrella with a portrait of Bal Thackeray on it, and the way he holds it, it keeps the rain off my head too. I answer him politely enough and then excuse myself. I don't want shelter from the rain under a picture of Thackeray.

At the Innova belonging to Network 18, the knot of men is particularly boisterous. "Shiv Sena Zindabad", someone shouts from within it, but gets no answer. He shouts it again, a little softer this time.

Suddenly there's a small commotion from within the knot, and calls to clear a path through it. "Close umbrellas!" someone shouts this time. Inadvertently part of whatever's going on, I feel like I'm part of a reception line for royalty that will emerge from within the knot. But it's only the correspondent and his cameraman who walk past, all the way to the cordon where he positions himself to file a report. Behind them walk two young spectators, cellphones held aloft, capturing the movements of this correspondent on video.

One of the young men lowers his cellphone, turns and walks off, reviewing his film clip as he goes. On the other side of the police barrier, another painfully thin man berates us: "You want to know what happened here? Blast, blast, Mumbai!"

Half an hour later I am in the lobby of a friend's building nearby for a quick visit. Oblivious to the world, two boys are in a corner, playing chess. Still later, on the way back to Kabutarkhana, a woman walks past carrying a bulging plastic bag. She goes to a roadside garbage dump -- just the usual, trash overflowing onto the road and pavement, muck underfoot -- and carefully flings her bag onto the road too.

Blast or not, chess continues. Trash-flinging continues.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

So you shared a harmonica with someone on the street. Isn't that a bit on the dangerous side for transmission? Bodily fluids.

Chess must continue of course. Trash-flinging must as well. Life has to go on. It is the resilience of India.

Anonymous said...

Was this lengthy essay necessary to drive home your the point of your hatred of Thackery?
Surya

Dilip D'Souza said...

I'm tired of resilience.

Points are what you take away, lengthy essay or otherwise.

Rohit said...

I agree. I am tired of resilience too. Who will take the blame?

While I am completely for democratic principles and human rights, whose rights are more important? Those of terrorists or those of tax paying citizens?

What can make terrorists think twice about attacking any Indian citizen? The Israeli model is clearly a failure and India cannot go around bombing suspected terrorists. But the soft approach has not worked either. There are only questions, no answers.

Dilip D'Souza said...

whose rights are more important?

The sometimes hard-to-take fact about human rights: they are universal. Nobody's are more or less important than anybody else's. It's the only way I can see to guarantee them for everyone.

What can make terrorists think twice about attacking any Indian citizen?

The unbiased, swift punishment of every act of terror: whether the killings in Bombay in 1992-93 or the killings in Bombay last night or anything else.

It won't stop terror, but it will work to reduce it. For now, that's a better vision than being subject to random brutality as we are now.

mygrahakblog said...

It was so dishearting to see it all over again. That too on Kasab's bithday...I think we should stop being resilient and take some firm measures...maybe something like shown in the movie 'A wednesday'

Making Life Better

http://www.mygrahak.com/blog/

beserhiyass said...

Do you believe that it is the inherent complexity of our legal system that makes the delivery of swift justice impossible or is it just the simple fact that there is an immense backlog of cases that makes it difficult to get quick judgements?

I am inclined to agree with you on human rights. By their very definition, I suppose, they are rights you have simply because you are human.

There are many who clamour for a stronger government who might do better. That alternative is either L. K. Advani or Narendra Modi. I am not entirely convinced about either but the Congress has been a den of thieves for a long time now so for the Indian on the street, there really seems to be nowhere to go.

Dilip D'Souza said...

It was not Kasab's birthday. So let's stop spreading that particular perverse angle to this tragedy.

There's a backlog. There's complexity. All that about our justice system.

But even so, how do you explain the fact that we have tried and sentenced the guilty for the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts, but have not even begun any trials for the 1992-93 Bombay massacre, not begun for the 1984 Delhi massacre either?

Rohit said...

I was not even born in 1984 and was very young in 1993 so I could not grasp the reality of the rioting. But the grave miscarriage of justice in the Gujarat riots disheartens me.

I have always considered the judiciary to be the moral compass of our nation but even it seems powerless to be able to secure justice for the people who were let down by the very people elected to uphold the law.

It is inhuman for ANYONE to be subject to this agony and yet some Indians have become inured to it, and almost seem to praise it, by giving monikers like "spirit of Mumbai" or "the resilience of the city" to this forced sangfroid.

Anonymous said...

Dilip D Souza: Don't be so cocksure: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/it-was-kasabs-birthday-today-wiki-edit-war-rages-on-41004.html

Suresh said...

Do you believe that it is the inherent complexity of our legal system that makes the delivery of swift justice impossible or is it just the simple fact that there is an immense backlog of cases that makes it difficult to get quick judgments?

Both of these add to the problem but I think the issue at stake is that the state acts in a partial manner. Action is swift in some crimes while action in others is deliberately delayed, or no action is taken. To take but one example which Dilip has noted, the special court has pronounced a verdict in the Godhra riots case while there has been little or no movement in the Gulbarg Society case. Both incidents happened at about the same time. Even worse, in some instances like Delhi 1984, Gujarat 2002 or Punjab in the early 1990s, the state even participates in the terror.

Dilip has received all types of abuse for pointing all this out; no doubt this comment will receive its share too.

Nikhil said...

Amazing. Even during this tragedy, Dilip cannot get over his Thackeray obsession.

The unbiased, swift punishment of every act of terror: whether the killings in Bombay in 1992-93 or the killings in Bombay last night or anything else.

What about the time when a terrorist was convicted and there was no ambiguity in the case, some people (not the perpetrator himself)find a problem with the judicial system and even write bestselling books on this. The entire case is in limbo.

What about people who lie and submit false affidavits and make up stories and carry out sting operations in the name of getting justice?

Dilip D'Souza said...

I have no use for the kind of politics the Thackerays of this world practice. Therefore, I hope I (and plenty of others like me) will never get over our "obsession", if that's what it is.

"What about the time [etc]" does not cut even a sliver of ice. Afzal Guru was tried and convicted, a fact you yourself recognize. Name the perpetrators of Bombay 1992-93 who have even been charged, let alone tried and convicted.

Some people cannot or will not see the stark and blindingly obvious difference between these two cases. Therefore they must flail about bringing up all manner of irrelevant stuff, from bestsellers to sting operations.

Like I said earlier, I've heard this gravy train before.

Nikhil said...

What about the time [etc]" does not cut even a sliver of ice. Afzal Guru was tried and convicted

It will not with all your hidden agendas like membership of certain forums etc. He was tried, convicted and what happened to the punishment? Ha haha

What about the perpetrators of Radhabai chawl and all the bombers in the last decade. Heavens one even forgets the number of times. we do not even know the names and where the investigations have progressed - leave alone any arrests, charges, convictions ets.

How did i miss out this nugget of 'wisdom' - a jewel in its own right.

The unbiased, swift punishment of every act of terror: whether the killings in Bombay in 1992-93 or the killings in Bombay last night or anything else.

It won't stop terror, but it will work to reduce it

So hang Modi, Thackeray and Advani and Vajpayee. Thackeray should top the list. Then the LET, ISI, David Headley, Plotters of bombings from Madrid to London will instantly reform and gradually will dismantle themselves, the ISI will end hostilities against India and Wahaabi indoctrination in Saudi Arabia will also end.

Nikhil said...

Punjab in the early 1990s, the state even participates in the terror.

Wow. Another jewel here. So when the state takes firm steps and brings about stability in a state that has become a lost case, it is considered as a participant in terror.

Anonymous said...

"Modi, Thackeray and Advani and Vajpayee. Thackeray should top the list"

Nikhil, so you are actually saying these people are responsible for terrorism? am I right?

Rohit said...

Nikhil,

"The unbiased, swift punishment of every act of terror: whether the killings in Bombay in 1992-93 or the killings in Bombay last night or anything else"

Where does this statement mention hanging Thackeray, Advani, etc.?

Shouldn't all crime be punished? Whatever the reasons, people cannot take the law into their own hands or the nation will cease to remain a sovereign state.

There is discontent among many people that the perpetrators of several tragedies have not even been charged for their crimes. How does it matter what the criminal's loyalty is towards.

If you are part of a sovereign state, you have to respect its laws.

Suresh said...

For those interested in the human rights situation in the Punjab of the early 1990s, I would recommend the website of Ensaaf, an organisation started and run by Jaskaran Kaur. (Dilip, you used to have a link to her webpage but it's no longer there.)

Particularly interesting is a graph detailing the number of "encounters" etc. in the Punjab between 1988 and 1996. It can be found here. Do take a look.

From past experience, I know just how further "discussion" is likely to unfold. I am therefore not going to say anything more. I would just like to mention here that if the state deliberately kills people through extra-judicial methods, then in my opinion, it is perpetrating terror. This is so even if the "other" side is perpetrating terror of its own by wantonly killing people.

Nikhil said...

Nikhil, so you are actually saying these people are responsible for terrorism? am I right?

No. I am only offering some suggestions how to implement Dilip's solution to reducing terrorist attacks. When he has such a simple, ready solution, surely all of us - who are his well wishers need to offer some useful suggestions.

Chandru K said...

"I would just like to mention here that if the state deliberately kills people through extra-judicial methods,"

Doesn't it depend on the people the state kills? If those people are terrorists and Khalistanis, there is strong justification. These very same terrorists paralyzed the judicial system in Punjab by killing witnesses and informers, not to mention hundreds of police officers. So the short cut methods of the Punjab police were understandable. Would dialogue with the Khalistanis have solved the problem? Or arresting every single terrorist, reading him his rights, then conducting a trial? Would that have accomplished the desired result? How would you get a conviction, that too of thousands of terrorists, when the judicial system itself is non-functional?

Nikhil said...

Suresh
As usual displayed your ignorance. Yeah a shady pinko website run by dubious individuals is a great source of authentic information?
People sitting in the US and running human rights groups are paragons of virtue. Yes Dilip did have a link there. That is wheen Not surprised about it.
Will all these rights wallah's practice right to information? Would like to see their donors and who sponsors them. Will yield some real surprises. Then people's hidden agendas will be clear.

Nikhil said...

Rohit
These are interesting points you make. Let me take them up:

Shouldn't all crime be punished? Whatever the reasons, people cannot take the law into their own hands or the nation will cease to remain a sovereign state.

Agree completely with you here. I have no issues with the likes of Thackeray, Tytler etc being punished. By all means,have a trial and if guilty punish them. But i have issues with double standards and selectivity. Why does this attitude towards Thackeray, Modi etc not extend to Maoists, Pak trained terrorists etc? Look at his writings on the Afzal Guru case and you can see how
Dilip speaks about the 1992 rioters not being punished, but the 1993 bombers being punished. Which translates to Look the muslim bomb blast perpetrators were punished while the hindu rioters are away scot free. But one instance that he has clearly hidden is the Radhabai chawl case.
Here too the perpetrators got away scot free. Same mischievous attitude with Gujarat. There are cases and instances of the rioters being ounished, but he mischievously brought up the Gulberg case when the Godhra trial was completed. So do you see a pattern here? Now see why i spoke about hatred to a community.

Anonymous said...

maybe i missed sthg, but how come it is "mischievous" to bring up gulberg when godhra trial finished? is gulberg criminals punished?

Rohit said...

Nikhil,

I think you have a very radical interpretation of what Dilip writes here. Yes what he is saying does translates in some ways to, "Look the perpetrators of X crime were convicted while those of Y crime got away."

But isn't it true?

Don't some politicians get away with murder? It's almost 30 years since the 1984 riots but isn't it the duty of the judiciary to bring the perpetrators to justice?

You seem to feel that he is biased against the Hindu community, and I think that is certainly not the case. I am of the view that ALL crime should be punished and that the state is doing a disservice to the people by not actively pursuing some criminals who are influential politicians.

In the midst of anger over repeated terror attacks, Dilip seems to want to make sure that these misdeeds are not forgotten. Whether you like it or not, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and people of every religious community (and even irreligious folk) are a part of the nation and justice has to be delivered to all without bias. This is clearly not the case when politicians and other people of influence are involved in the crimes.

The day we forget about these acts of violence and leave them unpunished is the day we cease to be responsible and ethical human beings.

Baljeet said...

is there any solution? lots of people ask this question. It is going the same way corruption has gone. Now the so called big brains are talking about making bribery legal by law. No surprise if you see something similar for terrorism. This is our nature (especially Indians) when we cant eradicate something we adopt that.

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JBlum said...

Dear Mr. D'Souza,

David Smith, who writes a blog featured on the Affordable Housing Institute (AHI)’s website, thought that you might enjoy his posts on rent control that mention your article.
Here is the link to the posts (in 3 parts):
http://affordablehousinginstitute.org/blogs/us/2011/07/the-sacred-bull-part-1-outlasting-the-building.html
http://affordablehousinginstitute.org/blogs/us/2011/07/the-sacred-bull-part-2-strangling-new-production.html
http://affordablehousinginstitute.org/blogs/us/2011/07/the-sacred-bull-part-3-perverting-politics.html

Sincerely,

Janaki Blum

Ms. Janaki Blum
Administrative Director
Affordable Housing Institute
38 Chauncy Street, Suite 600
Boston, MA 02111
T: 617 502 5980
F: 617 338 9422
E: jblum@affordablehousinginstitute.org
W: www.affordablehousinginstitute.org