Friday, November 23, 2012

"He was just a Pawn"

With the passage of time, he realized his mistake and that is why before the execution these were his words
“Allah kasam, dobara aisi galti nahin karunga.”

Alas, he never got another chance to heal his broken arm. Ajmal AmirKasab the lone surviving terrorist of the 26/11 attacks was hanged in a secret mission called "Operation X" on November 21st at 7:30 am, five days before the fourth anniversary of the mishap.  When the news flashed on the idiot boxes it was a bolt from the blue for most Indians! While most Indians thought that justice was done, there were these very few who were trying to shun the celebratory voices and not make hay.
Kasab was the only terrorist caught alive all thanks to the brave sub-inspector and retired army man Tukarama Omble whose heroics brought to light Pakistan's state sponsored terrorist activities. Had Kasab not been caught alive, we would have always stayed in the dark about the whereabouts of the machines of mayhem, who descended on the face of Mumbai four years ago to kill and wound without a stutter.

Three days after being caught, he confessed to his crime with Pakistan disowning him and refusing to recognize him as their citizen, of course later things took a turn. As per the Indian laws, an individual caught in an act of crime is innocent until not proven guilty by the courts of law, with the right to fight the case. 
His trail began with 312 counts which were dropped to 86, all of which he denied. Later in June 2009, he pleaded guilty to all the charges framed against him. When the Supreme court of the country refused to grant him mercy, he knocked at the doors of the President. He was disheartened with the verdict that the President had to give.  In a secret operation which even the Prime minister and leader of Congress weren't aware of, except of course the President who turned down the clemency petition and the Home minister and a few officials of the state and law, he was put to death.  A major calculation was needed to avoid an IC 814 like situation and maybe that is why everything was carried out secretively. A group of soldiers hand picked from the Indo-Tibetan Border police force escorted him from Mumbai's Arthur Road jail to Yerwada at 1.30 am on November 20th, after which the secret "Operation X.X" would have been executed. I also heard in the news reports that the mobile phones of the officials employed for the act were confiscated and were returned only after hanging and burial were successfully carried out. 
Had the operation not been kept under wraps, maybe it could have incited violence at the borders and in many sensitive areas and only if Kasab's bosses wanted to rescue him, something like IC 814 could have been anticipated. I applaud the clandestine closeness with which the authorities handled it and so also their sensibility to have informed Pakistan who sheepishly accepted the news without sparking any controversies about it in the news rooms. We prevented another mishap rather than trying to cure it by not making it public. But yes please do not for the Almighty's sake compare his hanging with that of Bhagat Singh and Rajguru. Do not try to be the blind leading the blind by drawing parallels between the two, for many Congress and Gandhi lovers were heard saying so.

Facebook and twitter went mad expressing joy and relief, to introspection and cursing  after his hanging.

A few tweets that went online after his hanging read like this

"Dear #Kasab, those aren't virgins. And you're not in heaven. Sincerely, etc," tweeted Sonia Faleiro, an author from Mumbai.

"Millions of Kasabs will be born if we do not stop brainwashing our innocent children with religion," tweeted Bangaldeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

"One day supply of unlimited free Kingfisher beer to all Indians on account of #kasab's death," tweeted liquor baron Vijay Mallya.

"Of all the reports/opinions on Kasab's hanging I came across on the Internet, this one seemed the most apt - Ajmal Kasab's hanging: death of an ignorant foot soldier," Yashodeep Sengupta, a journalist from Kolkata, wrote on Facebook.

"Ajmal Kasab hanged on Nov 21st. Winter session of parliament begins on Nov 22nd," Praful Bhat, a media professional from Mumbai, wrote on Facebook.

"Ponty, Thackeray and Kasab. This month make sure you avoid drunken driving, or riding without helmet or even walking on the pavement. You sure want to avoid this list!" wrote Bilal Zaidi, a journalist from New Delhi, on Facebook.

"Never hated someone so much in my life..ROT IN HELL KASAB!" wrote Mumbai's Pankaj Gupta on his Facebook wall.

In another post, he wrote: "Pranab Da...dil khush kar diya aapne!"

"No RIP Kasab. I hope the bastard rots in hell," tweeted Tunku Varadrajan, Newsweek magazine's India editor.

Sharath Shetty from Mumbai wrote on his Facebook: "The expensive Terrorist Kasab is Hanged Today !!!!! at last."

"Believes that the death penalty is justified in the 'rarest of rare' cases, as in the case of Kasab. While as a society we can be satisfied at Kasab finally got his comeuppance, this is but a small step, in the big battle ahead.

Let alone the challenge of bringing the perpetrators, handlers and masterminds to book in Pakistan, can we say that we are safer or more secure today from these acts than we were 4 years ago ? Are our seas safer ? .....And as a civilised society, it isn't right to celebrate anyone's death. Even if an execution is justified," wrote Rukmani Vishwanath of Delhi on Facebook.

He was a brain washed pawn who  was introduced to Let by his own father as confessed by him, on news clippings, for the money he got from joining the Jihad wars would have rid them off their abject poverty . He was one of the many thousands of Kasabs waiting to cross the border or lurking around in our neighbourhood to play the tunes of death. He was called Qaidi number C-7096 and was the first foreigner to be hanged.

On second thoughts Rinzu says,

I was four years younger then,  and much more sheepish when I saw the terrorists dance of death on the television. For the next four days I was unable to sleep, clutching on to the other pillow on my bed and sometimes even burying my face inside it,  I wondered why did it have to happen? 
Four years later, on 21st November 2012, when Kasab's hanging was declared as the "Breaking news" there was a spring in my step. I felt the devil got his due and for most part of the day like many Indians who had even burst crackers to celebrate his execution, I was feeling exuberant. 
But in some part of Pakistan, a mother would be mourning the death of her young son. A sibling will always pray for their brother's soul to rest and a father might be feeling sorrowful at the price his son had to pay for their poverty.
When I googled his name what sent a chilling shock down my spine was his age which was almost as my brother's. As mom said, a cute looking boy almost,  of my brother's age did not deserve such an end. 
For once even he thought that he'll never commit the mistake again. But that next time never came. Let's not mourn his death but let's not party either. 

There are hundreds and thousands of Kasabs being made everyday, all because they could not answer the calls of poverty! Let's invest our energies in winning the war over poverty and illiteracy and not cussing and celebrating the death of a pawn of terrorism.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Alienate (Sequel to I, the Mailbox)

A wooden casing
with a wrecked window
wails in front of the house
Two one one,
is the number
in intricate inscription
with black paint
the sun may have shone on its forehead
last summer when the daughter's
stipend application
gave birth to an answer,
its womb weaned in willow
since then, waits for
her blue inked letter
or a congratulatory message
to an invitation accepted,
she ached for alienation
just like the old mail box
whose name no one remembers
since the e-mail fluttered to fame.

First published in the Best of Poetry 2012 by C.E Lukather.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pro-life or pro-choice?

Savita Halanappavar’s words before dying were "I am neither catholic nor Irish". With these words, her heartbeat stopped. 

And why did it happen?  Her seventeen week foetus had suffered a miscarriage, but then none of the doctors who examined her were willing to terminate the pregnancy, because she was in a catholic country and as per the catholic church's rules on abortion, a foetus cannot be terminated until the heart beat doesn't stop. Savita was neither catholic nor Irish and nor could the foetus be saved. Then why did the doctors show poor judgement and behave like coy cats fearful of the abortion laws of the Catholic church? 

For in 1992, the Supreme Court of Ireland had ruled in the favour of terminating a pregnancy if it was a threat to the mother's life. The ruling was not implemented by the subsequent governments in the Irish republic due to which the hands of the medical personnel were tied. And none supposedly wanted to go against the law and end the pregnancy to lose their jobs. She writhed in pain for four days, but by the time the foetal heart beat stopped and its remains were surgically removed septicemia had poisoned her blood and rendered her organs useless.

She breathed her last on October 28th, triggering a debate between pro-life and pro-choice.

While in another world, Todd Akin and the Republicans left no stone unturned to define the different kinds of rape and get slapped by a loss that most women had foreseen in the United States. While the first lady,  assured the women during the Democratic National convention that her husband trusted women and the choices they had to make for their bodies.

These are two instances from the recent past, that made the lives of women a matter of political proposition. The state in both these cases was toying around with the reproductive rights of women.

Pregnancy affects the life of the mother and not the father, in-laws or the state. Then why does the state try to have say in the personal decisions of a couple or the mother? Personal pleasures can never be deemed as a political manifesto and the state must make all efforts to make its stand clear on laws affecting human lives. In the case of Savita, the doctors were forgetting the Hippocratic oath to hide behind religious laws that were never reviewed by the state in an act of inhuman carelessness.

The debate on pro-life and pro-choice is separated by a thin line. While the church is trying to kill many birds with one stone, taking a stand on contraception, abortion, career oriented women, divorce and same sex marriages, it also not giving the devil its due. The priests embroiled in child abuse cases are still walking free, so also the nuns in many parts of the world coming out strongly against it. A wave of feminism has taken over the nuns with many openly coming in support of the misuse of the "pro life" theory that the church is thrusting on its women and also trying to pin the dirty linen of the priests for public display.

In this tug of war many women like Savita are becoming scapegoats of a law that was passed to keep a check on sexual promiscuity that the modern woman is following as a thumb rule to be free of obligations and family. While in the west and in modern India, many women are retorting to abortion to kill an unborn foetus that was an outcome of their misadventures, and more of the women who do not want to have a family are getting their fetuses terminated.  There is another universe, where a Savita becomes a victim of the cruelty of fate, only because pro-life and pro-choice are misunderstood matters largely governed by governments waiting to amass votes. Why should uterus be a point of political debate when pregnancy is the decision of the mother and not the state?

In this case, the child was dead whether or not the abortion had taken place, and if not for the mindless law makers, reviewing their policies on the health of women in their states the mother's life could have been saved had the abortion been done sooner than it was. The ban on abortion, therefore took a life, had the doctors not been victims of misjudgment. Two lives were lost when one was surely for keeps. How does that make the ban pro-life?