The month has just passed.
But the people of Delhi would not forget August 2007 for some time at least.
It was the month when Free India turned sixty, we had no rain, we were almost roasting with excessive heat, reeling with frustration while watching the grim faced Left’s obdurate protests against the N-Deal, watched president Pratibha’s swearing in ceremony as the first woman President of India, was a bystander while violence shook Hyderabad and Agra, felt sad when a bright young teenager was murdered with some online friendship going wrong.
It was the month when Sanjay Dutt got interim bail, Salman Khan went behind bars, and we as the ‘janta’ were fed with elaborate descriptions of what he ate for breakfast, when he went to the toilet, and how he is feeling inside the jail.
All this was packed in the 31 troubled days of August, along with the usual happenings of rape, road rage, murder, caste wars, farmers’ suicide, debauchery, corruption, murders, kidnapping and the rest of the ‘usual stuff.’
With media getting bolder, better, sharper and conscientious each and every day, ‘we the people’ are getting used to watching every single thing that is happening around us and in the lives of others.
We are more or less mute spectators of the crime, violence, and injustice perpetrated on other human beings and often feel helpless or callous (lets admit it) to do anything about it.
I also count myself amongst the callous ones. Watching such news on TV and then forgetting about it in the next instance.
However one piece of news got stuck with me and it will be imprinted on my mind for days to come.
There was this poor rickshaw puller in Bhagalpur (Bihar) who was caught stealing a gold chain. The entire scene was captured by the photojournalists of various TV channels and was played and re-played on every national channel throughout the day.
The man was shown being punched, hit, kicked, pushed around, beaten, mauled, hauled, orally abused, dragged on the street and it went on for hours with spectators standing around and silently watching the inhuman act.
But what followed next is something unthinkable even for a wooden table, but it was done to a half starved, frail looking poor man. Our Inspector sahib came and tied the man’s legs to his motorcycle, (his hands were already tied behind his back) and then dragged the half unconscious man all the way to the police station. His body twisted, heaved and turned with palpable pain as the speeding motorcycle, dragged it along on the concrete roads. Then he was put behind the prison for trying to steal that gold chain.
National Human Rights Commission raised a hue and cry and the erring police inspector was suspended.
I often think about that poor man, and wonder what should be done to the crooked politicians who steal the wealth and honour of the country through bribery, fraudulent practices and still roam free.