Ostrich Syndrome!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Their Kasab, Our Kasabs

Ajmal Kasab, the Butcher of Mumbai, is a house hold name in India and Pakistan. It can be safely argued that after Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Ajmal Kasab may be the only name in the subcontinent which raises equally avid feelings and blistering debates across the Radcliffe line. He was trained to kill and he did his job with frightening exactness and in cold blood. He killed and broadened the horizon of savagery for future generations. He killed because he was primed to kill. Whatever the reasons for his killing hundreds of innocent Mumbaikars, to me he was a product of a system which is now established in Pakistan. The system of failure. However maligning it may sound to my friends across the border, the failure of Pakistan as a state is too evident to be ignored. The failure of democratic issues, freedom of speech, cogent leadership and failure of coherent thinking in the Pakistani administrative set up is barefaced. The social fabric of Pakistan as a nation has been split open by forces born out of its misadventures of the past. These forces now threaten to annihilate the country.
Well we can add more adjectives to the failure of Pakistan. But just before we do that lets focus on “our” Kasabas. The Indian Kasabs. The men who were born in an authentic democratic set up, nursed and nurtured by the so called righteous political class of our country. Men brought up in “shining India”. Men who are innately Indian but behave like the Kasabs of Pakistan. Can we ignore them? Surely not.
The recent report of the magisterial enquiry into the encounter of Ishrat Jahan is a grim reminder of our Kasabs. The metropolitan court has alarmingly called the killing of this 19 year old girl as a fake encounter. It is important to remember that her death at the hands of our Kasabs is a matter of great concern in a civilized society. She is not the only one. Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Kausar bi, Ranbir Singh, Rabina Devi, Ch. Sanjit are just few of the names which epitomize the presence of werewolves in the Indian administrative machinery. According to one report, there are allegedly 28 fake encounters in Gujarat alone. The Indian Kasabs are surely working overtime!
We justify (and rightly so) the likes of Ajmal Kasab through the failed state theory. But can we apply the same to his Indian counterparts? I wish I couldn’t. To me India hasn’t failed as a democracy as long as it comes to organizing elections and electing peoples’ representatives. Roots of democracy as a process of elections are deeply ingrained in our psyche and any attempt at uprooting this thought process is met with stiff resistance. Then what went wrong? Why did we breed Kasabs in the land of Gandhi and Buddha? The answer to this question is complex and painful.
Unfortunately our democracy starts and ends with elections. The broader meaning of democratic rights and duties is lost in the mayhem of electing men and women who conveniently forget the virtues of a democratic setup. Democracy as classlessness, as egalitarianism, as social equality never existed in our country. We were too much in awe of organizing an election in a country of one billion plus people to really focus on the key issues which threaten India’s democracy.
The collusion of political class with corrupt administrative machinery is one of the most dangerous and disastrous outcomes of our democratic set up. It was this colluding apparatus which tasted blood in Gujarat. The communal political class, represented best by Narendra Modi, has given free hand to our Kasabs, namely policepersons D.G Vanzara and R.K Pandayan to carry out their agenda of liquidating targets which could be conveniently wrapped under the covers of “fight against terrorism”, an abridged version of the American rhetoric of “war against terror”. But there is a difference. The Americans kill others in the name of war against terror; our Kasabs kill our own men and women in their fight against terrorism.
The outcome of fake encounters by Indian Kasabs is even more disastrous. It gives birth to more Pakistani Kasabs. It opens new avenues for Islamic fundamentalists to recruit young blood in this game of death. In short, our Kasabs and their Kasabs form part of a cycle of hate, a man eating machinery, which is oiled by the likes of Narendra Modi on our side and Hafeez Saeed on their side. There would be many who would argue that democratically elected Modi is different from a branded terrorist like Hafeez. To me it is a difference without meaning because the outcome of their actions is the same. The means may be different but both represent the end point of a product which is disastrous to the civilized society. They are the mandarins in this festivity of death and destruction.
It’s time that we, the democratically inclined masses of this great land manifest our might in bringing sanity in this chaos. The Kasabs are working hard on both sides of the border. Unfortunately we cannot do much about their Kasabs but we can surely rein ours. The leash of peoples’ power is too strong to ignore. Democracy is a process of constant evaluation and implementation of the principles of equality and justice. The checks and means are built in. We suffer because we fail to use these means. We are pained because we let the leash go into unworthy hands. We bleed because the custodians of our democracy give us wounds which take centuries to heal.
The man eaters of India have to be exterminated before they become too colossal to conquer. We do not want more Ishrats. We cannot afford Sanjits. The blood of innocent children of this great land is too precious to go waste. Their Kasabs held the nation to ransom for three days; our Kasabs can do that for a thousand years. Their Kasabs were armed with AK-47s; our Kasabs are armed with service revolvers and carbines bought through your and my money. Their Kasabs meant to create havoc and terrorism in Mumbai. Our Kasabs have a broader agenda. The country is on their target and innocent Indians their victims.
I feel threatened. I am a Muslim, I have friends across the border, and I am a common Indian. I would surely make good recipe for lunch! Not long ago, we were told that we had made a tryst with destiny. Today the very dream is at stake. Terrorists from across the border had made life difficult; terrorists from within have snuffed the light out. We have to wake up now or their and our Kasabs will bleed the country white.