Reason for our not speaking out even as the living conditions of the jailed and others are fast deteriorating is that the masses don’t realize that communal politics will breed a whole generation of haters
The news that caught my attention this morning –25 May, the day I’m filing this column, is AAP leader and former Delhi minister Satyendar Jain collapsing in the bathroom in Tihar Jail,” due to dizziness’. Not to overlook the fact that this is the second time Jain has fallen in the Tihar jail bathroom during his imprisonment. Jain has been lodged in prison since his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money laundering case.
Bring to the fore the vital and basic queries – What are the prevailing jail conditions not just in one particular jail but jails across the country? What if Jain wasn’t a senior AAP leader and a former minister, then would the news of his collapsing in the confines of the jail come to the fore? What are the prevailing conditions for the prisoners’ well-being and upkeep? How do we get to know the physical and mental health of those lodged behind those high walls? Why should prisoners be deprived of the facilities; not to overlook the significant fact that a large percentage of those imprisoned are under-trials, so technically innocent. But even if they are convicted they should be given humane treatment. After all, they were not born criminals but circumstances and conditions drove them towards crime with disastrous offshoots. Another factor is that petty criminals could be mere foot soldiers, seemingly under the control of the political mafia, with the master players roaming about freely, untouched and un-arrested.
The wellness-cum-development of a land can be judged on the basis of how its government treats the women and children and the young, and also how it treats its prisoners. We seem lagging… what with rapists, molesters, killers and hate speech givers, roaming round rather too freely.
Nah, we aren’t reacting, not speaking out, even as the living conditions of the jailed and even of the not-so-jailed are fast deteriorating.
We all seem to have given a lollipop called: Hindu- Muslim! To cause deep communal divisions between the two communities under the various garbs and guises and alibis and camouflages. Conned and quiet we sit.
I don’t have one specific answer for this collective quiet. Just a series of ‘perhaps’!
Perhaps, the masses don’t realize that communal politics will breed a whole generation of haters! Haters and destroyers who will create havoc.
Perhaps, the masses have not viewed the film , Hotel Rwanda, which bares those grim details of civil strife …the two warring tribes not just start killing each other but destroying just about any structure, human and otherwise! And then it’s just about too late for the destruction to halt.
Perhaps, the masses haven’t heard these lines of German pastor, who was persecuted by the Nazis – Reverend Martin Niemoller’s lines: ‘In Germany, they first came for the / communists, and I did not speak up / because I was not a communist. Then /they came for the Jews and I did not / speak up because I was not a jew/Then they came for the trade / unionists, and I did not speak up / because I was not a trade unionist /Then they came for the homosexuals / and I did not speak up because I was / not a homosexual /Then they came for the Catholics / and I did not speak up because I was / Protestant / Then they came for me …but by / that time there was no one left to / speak up.’
Perhaps, my countrymen haven’t seen images of the wreckage that civil strife can unleash. Years back, when I had asked actor turned politician Sunil Dutt what can be that one possible solution to halt communal violence, he had said :“There can be one solution. Only last night I was going through the latest ‘Time’ magazine and the horror photographs of the civil war ridden Somalia shocked me so much that I couldn’t eat. It was dinner time but I couldn’t touch a morsel. Just couldn’t! Those horrifying pictures of human beings dying , sitting injured and ill, crawling about, rendered so frail and weak that they couldn’t even walk. Those human disasters because of the ongoing civil strife in Somalia. I’m going to suggest that those pictures be displayed all over our towns and cities, at all public places. And displaced with this caption: See what internal war or strife or unrest can do to you, to your country, to your fellow countrymen!”
Perhaps, we prefer to sit in that so-called safe positioning, under the notion that we just got to keep on living, somehow or anyhow!
Ending with this verse of Nida Fazli whose own life was ruined because of the Partition upheavals.
These lines from Nida Fazli’s ‘Just keep on Living’ (Translated from Urdu by Baidar Bakht and Lesilie Lavigne):
‘Just keep on living /
Just keep on living like this /
Say nothing /
When you get up in the morning /
Take a head count of the family /
Slouch in the chair and read the paper /
There was a famine there /
And a war raged somewhere else /
Be thankful that you are safe/
Switch on the radio and listen to the new pop songs /
When you leave the house /
Paste a smile on your face/
Pack handshakes in your hands /
Keep a few meaningless phrases on your lips /
Be passed through different hands like a coin/
Say nothing /
A white -collar /
Social respect /
A few drinks everyday/
What else do you need /
Just keep on like this /