By Manuwant Choudhary
India it seems is simply incapable of mercy.
The TV debates have stopped..(Even Arnab)
The judges satisfied for upholding the law....
The politicians now don't care about knowing a nationalist called Sunil Dutt.
As Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt is sent to Arthur Road jail and kept in the same cell as terrorist Ajmal Kasab.
But Sanjay has not been convicted of terrorism...and after mumurs and protests the judge allows him a fan and mattress !
In my years as a journalist..working in Bombay for some years..I do not recall ever doing a story for Sanjay Dutt.
But I did meet many others...poor people...like drivers....and their mothers accused of aiding terrorism.
Sanjay Dutt does not know me or remember...though I met him briefly outside Arthur Road jail...when I did a story for the municipal sweepers who were Shiv Sainiks....and a lanky Sanjay was called by the sweepers "Arre Sanju..idhar aana..."
Yet, today I write for him.
I think Sunil Dutt was a fine man...I have seen him at Delhi airport while he took a Jet airways flight. returning after attending parliament....no security...no nothing...a simple white kurta-pyjama....a briefcase....and a smiling face if anyone wished him.
I hated the Congress Party but I liked Sunil Dutt.
Yet I am not writing this because of even Sunil Dutt.
Having watched the TV debates and comments I think everyone just missed the point.
As a journalist I have seen many of India's prisons..even Arthur Road jail...and they are so hopeless and miserable.
If you want to know the true picture of a superpower called India is...don't look at the nuclear arsenal ...but at the condition of its prisons.
Just yesterday Pappu Yadav..accused of murdering Ajit Sarkar...came out of prison after the Patna High Court freed him of all charges for `lack of evidence'.
Pappu Yadav in return thanked the judges for their `honesty'.
Remember Purulia arms dropping case...where AK47s were airdropped by a foreign airline over Purulia in Bengal....and many of the beneficiaries were the ganglords of Purnia including Pappu Yadav...and later Md. Shahabuddin...
Anand margis were accused of being the beneficiaries....we still dont know the full story.
I hate the commies but in Seemanchal the conflict over land became uglier...Pappu Yadav became the face of the landowners whose properties the State did not guarantee protection....(In India there are no property rights)
Atal Behari Vajpayee the then opposition leader told a rally at Bombay's Shivaji Park "Yeh kaisa desh hai humara jahan astra aur shastr kee varsha hotee hai..."(What kind of country is ours where weapons pour from the sky like rain...)
The same Atal Behari Vajpayee freed the accused foreigners in the arms dropping case after pressure from Britain.
I wonder why the law is not upheld by our judges even most of the time ?
First everyone from Katju to god knows who became champions for Sanjay's mercy..others accused him of aiding terrorists....and then followed the loud debates...the law points...and it went on and on...never ending..until a weepy Sanjay told the media to shut up since he has not even sought a mercy petition.
Some called it drama..
But Sanjay has gone to prison as asked by the courts.
For some months I have been pondering over this bruhaha.
Yet its strange nobody bothered to understand the word `mercy' itself.
Mercy does not mean the accused is free of guilt or he did not commit the crime.
Rather mercy is given to a convict.
Mercy comes from various religions...and God is Merciful..even Islam...mercy is about forgiveness, compassion and kindness..so says the wikipedia.
In Judaism mercy is emphasized in the Babylonian exile, "The Lord has comforted his people and is kind to his arms. [...] Can a woman forget her infant, a mother the child of her womb? And even if they would forget him. I will never forget you "(Isaiah 49,13.15) why is the demand of mercy to the people". It is good to pray and fast, to be merciful and just "(Tobit 12:8).
I began this article by saying India is incapable of mercy.
Wikipedia mentions how mercy is not about outside pressures but rather it should be from within.
Our President Pranab Mukherjee is now referred to as India's hangman President rejecting so many petitions for mercy....sending all to the gallows...we don't even debate over abolishing the death penalty.
A Cyrus joke suggested Sanjay Dutt should have entered the Italian embassy instead like Italian marines !(a brighter chance)
Wikipedia explains the ethics of mercy...
In a legal sense, a defendant having been found guilty of a capital crime may ask for clemency from being executed.
To be "mercy", the behavior generally can not be compelled by outside forces. A famous literary example that alludes to the impact of the ethical components of the mercy on the legal aspects is from The Merchant of Venice when Portia asks Shylock to show mercy. He asks, "On what compulsion, must I?" She responds:
The quality of mercy is not strain'd.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
If God is merciful so Kings who are Gods representatives on earth were also to exemplify the same mercifulness...
Now we have not kings but the Indian state ...but over the years it has forgotten its origins and also how mercy is an important part of being rulers...does it mean that a people's government is the least merciful?
The king was a king because he had many powers....the biggest power was that to give mercy.
My grandfather once hosted the King of Nepal..a Rana ruler..he was old and on his way for treatment by a special train to Calcutta..he took rest for 4 days at hour home....relatives of many prisoners followed the King...and they met my grandafather and requested him to plead with the king to grant mercy.
My grandfather put up this request and the King came out onto the porch and with one wave set free all prisoners in Nepal.
There was jubilation and Nepal became stronger, not weaker.
The British treated our campus as `Nepal Hata' or embassy...the colonial British police did not enter our campus even if a thief took shelter.
Are we worse now?
If I was India's President I would free not just Sanjay Dutt, or few others..but lakhs of prisoners...most have already served more time in prison as undertrials than what they would if convicted.
India's jails need to be freed up...its overcrowded...inhuman.
But so is India.