Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Turning hostile

Want to save your job ? Turn hostile... It works in courts , so why not in offices. Today 6 years after Jessica Lal was murdered at a Page 3 party in Delhi , all the accused have been let off. One critical development was that most of the key witnesses including actor Shayan Munshi turned hostile. Sometimes I wonder if any rich and famous guy would ever be caught and punished by the system.
The fear that scares the living daylights out of me is what happens if I or someone very close to me ever gets entangled in this system. Most Indians associate a 0.03% probability to such an event in their lives. The common refrain especially in Mumbai is "Arre yaar, chup chap apna kaam karo, panga mat lo, summadi se nikal jaao, apne ko kabhi kuch nahi hoga". Some people even try a dash of philosophy " Tune kisika kuch bigada nahi na, to tera bhi kuch hoga nahi, kabhi kabhi thoda adjust kar lena ka ". Proponents of this philosophy would also say "Jessica Lal should have just obliged and made those drinks which were demanded. She was after all an employee at the hotel and kyon faltu mein panga liya usne". Maybe here the panga could have been avoided. Middle class morality would even go to the extent of saying " Page 3 party thi. Page 3 log. Pata nahi kaun sach hai , kaun jhoot hai."
But the question goes beyond the Page 3 crowd. Manjunath's murder at the hand of local mafiosi defeats all the above common arguments given by Indians on why this cannot happen to them. He was doing his job , he was not attending some wild party and he was as middle-class like most of us. Today most of us would be at our wits end if we are coming back from office at night and we witness a murder . Today most of us dont even help a driver whose car has broken down in a peak hour traffic jam . Today although we have zero faith in the system, we dismiss the event of we being caught in its vicious grip and denied justice as a statistical improbability. I dont what is wrong , our knowledge of statistics or our belief system.
Even if this years biggest hit RDB portrays an extremist step , most of us reviewed the movie as " Arre yaar, first half ekdum timepass tha, I dont advocate what the movie preaches as a solution". The breezy first half in the movie is akin to the good times brought by 8% economic growth and low interest rates. The second half is what we all try to dismiss , that we are still years away from a clean system where the offenders are punished .


At 3:14 PM, Blogger AMODINI said...

It's problematic - as you say - when we don't stop to help an injured person on the road, because of police entanglement. But we don't because we think the police is corrupt. And what we fear will the corrupt police do ? Disrupt our lives, entangle/implicate us in an otherwise unrelated incident. Will we have a recourse ? Theoretically, you could fight court battles, but with the Indian justice system, that battle is over before it begins. Practically, you could resort to bribery. But that's if you have the money . What happens to the person who won't pay a bribe because it's against his principles, or doesn't have the money (the poor) ?

Basically what I'm trying out to say, is that the justice system does not work. If we had faith in a system that responded even to the most destitute/the common man, we'd respond. However that change is yet to come.


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