And are you afraid yet? For till you don't feel the fear, you won't feel the anger.
Suresh* (name changed to protect identity) has old parents at home, he’s their only support. Like any other young guy, he also likes this girl. She stays in his colony. They don’t speak much, except he ensures he takes a round of her house when she is outside, drying clothes or sweeping the porch. He is an autorickshaw driver. Suresh and his family faced a severe money crunch for three years so that Suresh could buy his own auto. Usually, autorickshaw drivers work under contractors and pay anything between Rs 300-350 as daily rental charges. Whatever they earn in a day – or not – they have to pay that amount for using someone else’s auto. Once he got his own auto, the family saw happier times. You and I perhaps would still find their living conditions pecuniary, but they were happy.
Last week, another autorickshaw driver – a local goon of sorts – murdered another auto guy, with a sickle (darati, in Hindi). The police came to their colony and picked up Suresh. He had not even raised a finger. There is proof, there were eye witnesses that he did NOT do anything. Currently Suresh is in jail. His bail has been refused. The murderer is roaming free; he has local-level politicians for friends. Suresh’s parents don’t know what to do. They are scared. Suresh’s friends are angry. Because they are afraid. That despite their friend being innocent, he will probably be booked in a false case.
I am scared because despite knowing Suresh – I know him through Umakant, my favourite auto-wallah – and yet, I cannot do anything… As a professional. They called me, the auto-drivers. I know them, they have my card. I had said, “Bhaiyya, kabhi zaroorat ho to batana,” (if you ever need me, call me). They called. I am media. People are supposed to be scared of me. I am angry. I am scared. Can I do anything? Will my channel/editor take up the story? Will METRO NOW take it up? But then, Suresh is an auto driver and such things only happen to little people. Not news, nah. Not TRP.
On the colony gate of Green Park Extension – one of Delhi’s relatively posh areas – there is a notice. A missing person’s notice. The girl in the picture is pretty… and has been missing since August 8, 2007. The notice is in font size 8, hardly visible; and has other posters sticking on it. I wonder if the girl is alive. Or gang-raped. Or maimed. Or perhaps sitting in a minister’s bedroom somewhere, to be used and then sold off. But you see, that missing girl is not any Adobe officer’s child. So no one in the media will bother about mobilizing forces and cameras to find her. Can I help her? You? Ha ha.
There was a comment on my employee-website… We had broken a story on Ministers being part of a racket where MINOR GIRLS are brought as house-helps, raped and made to have babies. The comment read, “Can you please help us find my brother’s daughter? She has been missing.” It was written by a Doctor… not an anonymous Rupa sticking on a busy colony gate. And yet; is their family angry, because they are scared? And what if tomorrow someone from your family is kidnapped? Will you trust the police or will you hold a press conference?
As a macabre joke, interestingly, my favourite autowallah Umakant, was the man who brought Adobe Anant back home in his auto: It was out in the newspapers, please check. And today, his best friend Suresh languishes in jail.
I had mentioned a DJ-event sometime back (on the sprawling Garden of Five Sense, under the aegis of Delhi Tourism) in one of my earlier posts. The organizers had paid all taxes and taken all permissions to hold an event. Yet, the police interrupted the event much before the sanctioned-time. No one could do anything but go home. Meanwhile, this Italian restaurant flouts rules every Saturday. Why? Because they pay the cops. Tomorrow, when the same cops come and declare they are going to bulldoze the place, I wonder how much money the restaurant would shell out.
Does Delhi remember Turquoise Cottage? THE Media hub on Wednesdays? Quite interesting that despite frequenting that place and joining communities in its praise, I really did not see ANY media support IN the papers on or TV for “our beloved TC”. That restaurant too used to be open till 2 am. Any guesses how? And yet. Shrug.
Do you have a friend in the Air Force or the Army? What will you do tomorrow if you learn your friend was shot dead in Drass; trying to protect a post, the location of which was compromised BY another corrupt official or perhaps some buffalo-loving politician? Or because some extremely intelligent politico – usually with a criminal record and no education – decided that that particular post did not need many soldiers? Or what if your pilot friend crashes, flying the decrepit helicopter the Air Force has? Will you do a Rang De Basanti? It IS a real situation, the b******s really don’t care. And how many times, the Rang De Basanti... for each soldier? Each missing person? Each religious riot?
Ditto for those who might have seen ‘Crash’. It could be your girlfriend and a policeman’s hand under her skirt while you are held at gunpoint. Gurgaon Police nearly did it to me in 2004. We were waiting at a Gurgaon colony-crossing, waiting for another couple to come in their car and lead us to their house. It was 9.30 pm. So these drunk cops come and while they are talking to my male friend, are checking me out. I will never forget. This burly cop, spat, then cleaning his teeth with this little finger, was pointedly staring at my breasts. I could FEEL his look. Then pointedly looking at my crotch – jeans – he asked my friend, “It’s not safe for medam to be traveling with you. Leave her here. Go find your friend.” I took out my press card then, like an ass. It was a lame gesture. The cops started laughing and said, “Arre medam, biyaabaan main camera nahi hote.” (There are no cameras in the jungle.) I swear, IF a policeman EVER touches me…
Yes. I am angry BECAUSE I am scared. And I am thinking. I really did not like the ending for Rang De Basanti. Does it have to be that? What happens when josh (adrenaline) and hosh (intelligence) come together? If a handful FEW can find ways to tweak the law for their benefit… WHAT happens when an ENTIRE nation puts its head together? Joins hands? Or even a handful? Do we always HAVE to be the victims?
And for how long? And for HOW long will you live in fear… Turn it to anger. Yes, Anger is a manifestation of fear. Feel the fear. But GIVE me your anger.
I will be afraid; and yet I will transform that fear into potent anger. Anger that DOES something. But, I will use my brains. Josh aur hosh. That will be my contribution today. Yours?