Where’s compassion for our own?

With the Italian government finally agreeing to return the two accused sailors in the Kerala fishermen-in-sea murder case, the ground that was fertile for some reaping of patriotic crops has been scorched. Nothing works better than some good old Italy bashing to make ‘proud Indians’ out of us. But for these Italians, how else could the homegrown saffron Goths, constantly plotting the fall of an imagined Roman regime in New Delhi, rehearse another episode of their ‘India, good or bad’ drama? How else could certain khadi-clad centurions grab this opportunity to show off intense love for peninsular fishermen? As the
and the saffron match each other’s love for fishermen, decibel for decibel, they also compete in actively plotting the destruction of life and livelihood of thousands of fishermen at Koodankulam, beating for beating, 144 for 144, arrest for arrest, tear for tear. Irony is not a very effective genre of public performance in the subcontinent. May be because there is just too much of it around us, making it plain and non-newsworthy. Just like hypocrisy.

Of late, it has not been Italy alone among European states in irking the mandarins of the government at Delhi. In a less publicised series of events, Denmark did it too. May be Sanjeev Bhaskar was right – is it ‘coz we are brown. Most probably not. One of the prime accused of the almost-forgotten Purulia arms drop case of 1995 is a Danish citizen Niels Holck (famously known as Kim Davy). Authorities of the Indian Union wanted him extradited. A Danish court said that the conditions in jails run by the Government of India are inhuman. Between 2001 and 2010, 14,231 people died in police and prison custody in
-land. Sadly, this is no foreign NGO data but statistics from the National Human Rights Commission. Mumbaikar Arun Ferreira closely avoided becoming a part of that statistic. If Nehru had received from the British the same kind of prison-treatment as Arun Ferreira received from the Government of India, he would have ‘discovered’ another India. His fatherly letters to his daughter would have sounded very different. Actually, this is the ‘India’ whose power was transferred during Partition. Norwegians simply did not want to risk a rediscovery of this ‘India’. Incessantly claiming to be the world’s largest democracy probably did not help. The Danish court did not want Kim Davy to suddenly jump off from some height, hang oneself unnoticed, meticulously commit suicide deceiving the prison and police-folk or simply die of ‘unexplained’ internal bleeding. We would love to call this ‘racism’, that is, us minus some fourteen thousand.

Most of these 14,231 deaths were due to torture, typically occurring within two days of being taken into custody. We will probably never know the exact details – your  ‘right to information’ has its limits. Unfortunately, the dead do speak – if not in words, then in numbers. The Government of India has no anti-torture law satisfying the United Nations Convention Against Torture guidelines. Denmark and Italy have such laws. Always ready to be reasonable, the Government of India also promised that Kim Davy would be housed in a ‘special jail’ so that Danish fears are laid to rest. We browns are not fit for such treatment. No ‘India first’ saffron-wala will accuse any
-wala for this omission, or vice-versa. Third degree mostly embraces its own ‘nationality’. It always has.

A strange sense of patriotism and the opportunistic use of the charge of ‘racism’ came together in producing another spectacle around which much tear was shed, much pride was hurt, many hearts bled and many professional fire-eaters ate fire on camera. The daughter of a junior-level Indian Union embassy staff in New York was in police custody for less than 48 hours with others in the cell, due to a faulty investigation. The familiar parade of saffron-walas and khadiwalas came again, spouting pride and honour. Ministers, secretaries and diplomats declared that a lawyer would be employed for the girl’s case and that they would ask for compensation for distress in custody. This is rather rich coming from the nation of four custodial deaths per day. Add to it the hundreds of millions of days of torture, hopelessness, broken families, lost aspirations and insanity. Will our
and saffron patriots ask for such compensation? If one believes that girl’s case has merit (and I believe it has), then the whole exchequer has to be emptied many times over to pay back the citizens of the Indian Union who have been brutalised by the state’s criminal justice system. Coming back to Italy, it’s all right to love or hate pizza. Lets not talk about pride and dignity of the justice system. One should have some shame to qualify as human.

What is this thing that changes even human physiology, numbing our compassion, making us cheering spectators of contemporary gladiator games? It is the civic duty of a nationalist. My nation is good. You, sir, are bad. And this is the end of this conversation. (IPA)
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