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INDIA: The great thamasha

An Article by the Asian Human Rights Commission

INDIA: The great thamasha

Bijo Francis*

Overcoming initial reluctance, the Maharashtra state police have finally registered a case in the infamous Bhandara rape and murder incident. This is a case, not much discussed in India, other than for sparse reporting in a few Indian dailies, of the rape murder of three sisters, all minors. Missing of three miserable village children, their murder and rape cannot be of national importance anyway, neither did it happen in a city.

Rape has lost its news value in the country. What is new in it? It has become as boring as the Caesarean acta diurna. Rape is no more nouvelles. Indian media has taken to the sky, and many have sent their best scribes to dig AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica. Those who are left back and cannot afford to fly to Europe to investigate corruption in India, are engaged in other serious issues like demanding nothing less than the Kohinoor from the British crown.

However, the state government of Maharashtra is serious about this case. It has offered the children's family Rupees one million. The children's mother promptly refused the offer and requested the government to use the money to modernise the police and ensure a speedy justice in the case. Mothers' wisdom has no bounds.

In the Bhandara case, when the family approached the local police complaining that the three children are missing, the Sub-Inspector of Police, Mr. Prakash Munde, at the Lakhani Police Station initially refused to accept the complaint. The officer registered a case only the next day. Even as of today, the state police do not know how the crime has happened and who are responsible for it. They have reportedly summoned four persons to "interrogate". Indian police do not use the term interview, for questioning suspects or witnesses in a case under investigation.

The elected representative from the state, Mr. Nana Patole, led a group of villagers to block the national highway, demanding immediate action against the "culprits" and lamented how the police under the state government have failed to render justice to the people. Patole might not have made this allegation because his seat is amidst the opposition bench (BJP) in the state legislature.

Patloe must be aware that the court has found even senior police officers in Gujarat, Mr. G. L. Singhal for instance, have been carrying out extrajudicial executions in Gujarat, a state in which his party is in power. The BJP and the Chief Minister of Gujarat do not agree appointing officers like Singhal as the head of the State Crimes Records Bureau, though having officers like Singhal in such important offices could help tampering government records.

Political parties in India are honest concerning controlling crime and upholding good governance. Anomalies like Ibobi of Manipur, Imchen of Nagaland are abrasions of the democratic process, like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, a pre-1947 surrogate deviation of democracy, that the Home Ministry in New Delhi considers is must to deliver constitutional guarantees in at least eight states in India.

In the past eight years, Indians have lost USD 180.4 billion (with a 'b') to corruption. These are mere allegations, though the frauds include telecommunications, food grains and rural employment for the poor, Wakf board, mining, and defence. All political parties are represented in true democratic sense in these frauds. If this amount were to be divided, equally among Indians living within and outside India, how much would a person get must be left to the mathematics wizards, those who claim to be the proud descendants of Aryabhata.

For those who suffer compulsions like 'guesstimating' how many people ever lived on this earth, this figure is mischievous, since that is about a US dollar for each person born (now alive or dead). There are those who claim this guesstimating is science. They also guesstimate that their science is more certain than the possibility of this 180.4 billion returned to the people of India.

The allegation that the government of Maharashtra showed laxity in dealing with Munde is wrong. The government did punish Munde, by transferring him from Lakhani and a few days later suspending him. Those who contest that transfer is no punishment should ask 23 police officers who were transferred from the Kochi International Airport, for again, 'allegedly' running a human trafficking syndicate. These officers have spent millions paying bribes to politicians and higher officers for their posting at the airport. If being forced to abandon this investment is not punishment, what else is?

Meanwhile the state government of Maharashtra has assured that the 'culprits' in the Bhandara case will be punished, negating all allegations that the government has not taken the case seriously. The distance, by road in all forms as they exist in India, from Bhandara to the state capital is 924.4 kilometres. The news regarding rape to reach the state home minister's office, therefore have taken some time, given this long distance the news should drive, in Indian road conditions (an automotive standard globally used these days). Yet, the state's home minister has declared that the 'culprits' will be punished. His eagerness to render justice is so intense, that he does not see any role for investigators, prosecutors, and courts in the issue.

Those who still fail to understand the seriousness of the case, do not understand the vindictive power of political declarations in India. Pity those who fail to appreciate the desi thamasha.

# # #

* Bijo Francis demands a better India for all Indians. The author could be contacted at communicationsjp@gmail.com

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
ends

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