Friday, 17 April 2015

My deep sympathy for criminals

June 7, 2006: It seems to me that there are two standards of moral judgement within all of us: one that applies to us and ours (ie. apnon ke liye) and another that applies to others (ie. gairon ke liye). None of us can claim to be above this sort of double-standard.

The double-standard is exemplified by Vajpayeeji’s rather indulgent statements about being saddened by l’affaire Rahul Mahajan, and urging introspection. Would the honourable Past Prime Minister have been just “saddened”, and asked for introspection all around if the person concerned were, say, Rahul Gandhi instead? Or would he have been indignant instead, pointed to the poor moral fibre of the family and the political party involved, and asked for punishment to be meted out to those who committed the crime and those who sought to hush it up?

There is some merit in thinking of Rahul Mahajan, Sahil Zaroo and others as unfortunate victims of their families’ lives in the fast lane. There would be equal merit in thinking of Mr Kasliwal (habitual car rapist or victim of honey-trap set by a 52-year-old woman?) as a victim of a wealthy but dysfunctional family. And then again, maybe there would even be some merit in thinking of Kashmiri jihadis — most of whom would be in their late teens or early twenties anyway — as victims of a tough upbringing, circumstances, indoctrination etc.

Going a bit further down this road, I find in my heart a lot of sympathy for the young rapists and murderers of this world… God knows what horrific tales of parental abuse, hard knocks and poor self-esteem their lives consist of! No, really! And while we are at it, what’s wrong with giving older criminals a bit of sympathy too? Being a middle-aged man, I can tell you that there are days when I feel so sorry for myself that only commiting a good, solid piece of crime – such as attacking the Twin Towers or bombing Afghanistan and Iraq — would really help me let out the internal pressures!

You know what? Sab apne hein… yahaan koi paraya nahin hai. Osama, Mullah Omar, Bush, Musharraf, Saddam Hussein… Billa & Ranga, sab mere apne hein. All of them are somebody’s kids, somebody’s brothers, husbands, fathers, and by extension, just like you and me and everyone else. Aur apnon ko punishment nahin diya jaata, sirf sympathy aur help diya jaata hai. Kyonki sabki apni majboori hai, kya karen?
Such is life. Such is the world. Such the nature of our humanity. What to do?

And yet society must function. Armed militants — no matter how youthful, how pitifully misguided — must be shot at by armed forces everywhere, or put behind bars and made to sing like canaries. Intelligent and youthful people must be arrested by half-witted and corrupt police officers, and judged by balding, senile, self-important judges and sent to jails administered by cynics of the worst kinds — all of whom are also loving fathers and husbands, by the way.

Going by what little I have read about about him, Pramod Mahajan richly deserved whatever happened to him. And yet his brother Pravin, who was probably his victim all his life, must go to jail — no two ways about it. Issi ko zindagi kehte hein, jaani!

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