Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A Tale of two verdicts


It is a quirk of fate or a sign from the celestial that India saw two judgements pronounced on the same day, supreme court giving the verdict on the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab and the Gujarat courts giving a verdict on Dr Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi. Both courts found the accused guilty and deserving the maximum punishment there are many similarities and differences between both actions.

Both crimes were committed in the name of religion, but both crimes could never be considered as religious acts, by even the wildest stretch of imagination. Both of them represented their masters, who conspired to get their foot soldiers to kill indiscriminately and brutally persons of a particular religion who were defenceless and innocent bystanders. While Kasab claimed that the crimes committed in Gujarat gave him enough reason to do what he did, the Gujarat accused claim that act of burning Kar sewaks in Godhra prompted them to do what they did. Fundamentalist attitudes feed on each other and unscrupulous elements in the name of religion indoctrinate vulnerable gullible persons to commit such heinous crimes.

While Kasab used modern weapons to indiscriminately gun down any person who came in front of him, the lady doctor and her pack of goons hounded and hunted down innocent persons who were Muslims with crude medieval weapons and liberal use of petrol as a retribution and revenge for acts committed by their co-religionists. While Kasab is a poor uneducated, foot soldier, vulnerable to get influenced by persons who spread hatred and venom in name of religion, Dr Maya is a gynecologist, educated professional trained in helping create and propagate life. While both were backed by persons in power Kasab was from foreign land acting against persons who his country considered as enemy, Dr Maya and Babu Bajrangi acted against their own countrymen and while not actually using a weapon of mass destruction, distributed and directly exhorted frenzied mobs to commit violent acts defying all civilized norms. Kasab probably knew that he would be caught or killed and was prepared for both eventualities, he is showing no remorse for his acts. Dr. Maya and Bajrangi were almost sure that they would never get caught and had it not been for the Herculean efforts of the human right activists and unprecedented actions of the Supreme Court reopening cases which the state had closed to protect its favored few, both of them would have been enjoying power and rewards from their political masters.

We are all very ready to hang Kasab, but our muted reaction to the other verdict betrays a mind set ready to condone brutal acts against persons considered as them as opposed to us.
In my view capital punishment is wrong and no civilized society can have it on its statute books, state complicity in acts of violence against its own people cannot be forgiven. In the history of modern India mob violence and killing in the name of religion has been endemic and our short memories and NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude has resulted in allowing the perpetrators of such violence to escape punishment and in fact become more powerful. Can two or more wrongs add up and make a right? Can ignoble means justify noble ends?

In conclusion I leave it to your judgment to decide your reaction to these acts and judgments. Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. However Kasab and Kodnani are two sides of the same coin and their masters fall in same category too. 

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