Thursday, February 18, 2010

No Candles for Sitting Ducks

The outrage is apparent, so is outpouring of grief and gush of anger in its various forms like poems, articles, condolence messages, debates and criticism. Those who perished in Pune were not at any fault. They had only gone there, unsuspectingly, to enjoy their meal and have a great time. It was Saturday night, a valentine weekend, and enough reasons to celebrate. But little did they know that their lives would come to such abrupt ending, a single fulmination and all their dreams lay splattered on the ground, with its color changed to red. And never in their wildest dreams would they have wondered that so many people would remember them and light candles in their grief and in protest of what grievers dub as complicity of government.

Two days later, in quaint little town of Silda 170 KM from Kolkata and barely 11 KM from Jharkhand border, 40 maoist armed with automatic weapons and driving in motorcycles and cars invaded police camp massacring 25 unsuspecting, unprepared and untrained policemen. This entire orgy lasted only for 15 minutes, within which the camp was set on fire and weapons were looted. The ferocity of this attack was such that only skeletal remains of camp and bed remained, many were roasted alive. The Camp was middle of a crowed town, it was unprotected and aptly one newspaper described the situation of the policemen as ‘Sitting Ducks’, the one waiting for the crocodiles to come. Policemen had the modern weapons, but were not trained. When the lightning stuck, they were not ever in their uniforms. Yet not a drop of tear was shed for them, not candle was kindled for those ‘Sitting Ducks’.

When the tragedy at Pune stuck, within few hours the blogosphere was up with news. After one day, poems, articles and condolences flowed in. But here where 25 people were killed even after 3 days, not a single piece of news, not even a single sling of emotion.

Josef Stalin had once said “Death of a person is tragedy, death of many is statistics”, it seems for the nation it was a tragedy at Pune and it was mere statistics at Silda. As a nation has our callousness escalated to such levels that we easily differentiate between terrorism. If it happens to us or of our ilk then it is a tragedy, an apparent failure of government machinery. And when it happens to those who fight for us, nothing, just because they are expendable or it is just that they belong to different strata of society or they just added to the statistics.

The incident of Pune can easily be attributed to the sources across the border. Protest meets, peace marches can easily be organized against a known enemy, bashing him up would be easy, and to much extent have became our favorite pass time with both public and media regularly taking a jibe. But the massacre of Silda is an act of an enemy within, why no protest against it, why no peace marches asking them to give up weapons. This enemy is more dangerous than one across the border. This enemy is fed on the hunger, desperation of people. This enemy has raised its ugly head to tell us that since we don’t care they’ll end us. This enemy talks about revolution, which can be simply stated as power to the holder of guns. This enemy only believes in democracy of terror and has pact within each separatist organization whose motives are to rip apart the country into various fragments, to deny the idea of India. And this is the enemy we are complicit of ignoring.

The members of Eastern Frontier Rifles came from poor families, the one who cannot afford to send their children to fancy engineering, management or medical colleges. In stark contrast with those who perished at Pune, many of whom were planning to visit abroad. The families of EFR men cannot afford media, unlike those of Pune who can raise their voices through various forums. Does it make the lives of those who protect us expendable?

Our Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram while inaugurating Chief Minister’s Conference on New Delhi on August 17, 2009 said, “….Let us take the average constable. He is perhaps the most used, misused and abused person ever to wear a uniform. He works, on an average, 12-14 hours a day; generally seven days a week, often throughout the year. Since he is drawn from the common stock of people, his behavior and attitude reflect that stock; only feeble attempt is made to improve his behavior or change his attitude….He is perhaps the most reviled public servant in India. From a violator of traffic laws to a rich man whose family member has run over several hapless persons sleeping on the pavement, everyone assumes that the average policeman can be cajoled, bribed, bought over, threatened or bullied into submission. The people’s estimate of the average policeman is low; the self-esteem of the average policeman is even lower. It is this police that is our frontline force to provide internal security; and it is this police force that we have to work with” True words isn’t it. And it has being made truer by our own acts. It is very easy to salute those Jawans who are awarded at Republic Day, but it is very difficult to understand the situation of those policemen who beat our streets daily. And when they are massacred we just don’t care.

If our attitude continues like this, when we are choosy to grieve for our brethren, especially those who protect us, rest assure that one day we will end up as ‘Sitting Ducks’. Don’t say what they do? Because it is such field where failures are noted and successes are only part of duty. Today when you will grieve for the departed souls of Pune blast, just a simple request shed a tear or two for those Silda policemen and all those dead whose voices fail to reach us through popular media. They are not just statistics, they are not ducks.

© Tarun Mitra


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sensible post...

While death of policemen are caused by maoists, department officials need to be held responsible for this, for not anticipating trouble and not having facilities in place to counter them.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sensible post...

While death of policemen are caused by maoists, department officials need to be held responsible for this, for not anticipating trouble and not having facilities in place to counter them.

Mridula said...

Thanks for writing this Tarun, it is much food for thought.

DRIVEN said...

Its more heinous act then the Pune.
Now i am thinking what's the difference betweent the two.
1. Is it the place that Pune is more richer than the Silda?

2. Is it the people who died in Pune is more richer than the people died in Silda?

3. Is it our media is more interested in covering news of bigger and richer cities than small cities?

4. Is it Us who are more interested in knowing what happening in the bigger or richer cities than small cities?

5. Is it the people who do peace march that they will be covered up in bigger cities than smaller ones?

or may be the sum of all.

olive oyl said...

very crudely put, i think in our own way, even if sub consciously, we tend to write more about deaths that are more glamorous.

Tarun Mitra said...

@ Shrinidhi.....Department officials only thought providing guns is enough, they didn't thought that a training succeeds such weapons..and I won't only hold them accountable they deserve to sentenced to death for a willful part in a murder...Thanks for your comments

@ or fodder..general attitude of people toward these two incidents and an recent incident in Bihar is as lackadaisical as it can be

@ Rajat..bro u have stirred up right questions..I can only agree or may add few to what is a worth of a poor man's life, especially when he dies it is not only his life which is going to be affected

@ Olive Oyl...Glamorous deaths, yes they were, bakery, hotel, good time, enjoyment, party has glamor attached to it. Dying in duty is not at all glamorous..Thanks for stopping by

Thank you all for Reading this one and sharing your views

Vipul Grover said...

A very well written post Tarun.. Ur words touched each nd evry chord of emotions. RIP the all protectors - jawans or police constables.. they are indispensable for our nation and for us.. keep up d good work!

Shivani said...

well written tarun,infact i didnt even know abt the silda incident.... and now i knw the reason.

but one thing which i dont understand is that wats the use of lighting up candles....they will not come back,they sacrificed their lives, if we can do one thing its just that we have to be more cautious.

Just by lighting the candles we cannot hide from ourselves that pune blast did not have any affect on our lives. Just by listening to news, and showing our concern through candles is not the solution..

After a week the news will be gone from tv and to the third or fourth page of newspaper.
anyways thanks for posting such a nice article

Shas said...

This is sad. Looks like the daily dose of news of death and crime has numbed the senses of the people. Only a few evokes some response or empathy from them.

This silence is disturbing.

Tarun Mitra said...

@ Vipul..thanks a lot..But it is for them who died fighting for us and or whom who never get any recognition

@ Shivani...I think, don't mind, u are not reading news these days, Though things are making headlines but it is the public reaction I am worried about..Thanks for commenting

@ Shas..if things have numbed then why Pune and Silda has different reactions, i think that we are just purely callous

Megha said...

I totally agree with you. I see many stings in newspapers where security is compromised. But how can one imagine a person to be alert from 16-24 hours. Don't the police too have a sleep to give their mind peace atleast for some time.

When 26/11 happened, everyone thought, something good might come out of this, gov will wake up, after all it were rich people who were attacked. But no :( The thing is that we are too clamped in apathy.

Nalini Hebbar said...

the innocent cousin lost half his vision due to tear gas shell burst in Kolkota...what's the world coming to?...someone's problem somewhere in this world comes to haunt an unsuspecting ANYTHING fair in this world

Great post Tarun ...I am so angry right now

Tarun Mitra said...

@ Megha....question is not only about the rich or poor but invariably our attitude of responding towards the incidents which question our morals and ethics...Is we as a people discriminate between the people, is some life is more precious than some others,

@ Nalini...Sorry to hear about that...what the world is coming too? Well I say to an end...Thanks even am I

Megha said...

Sad thing is that people forget very fast...and Netas, faster

Anonymous said...

Oh I agree. All these deaths are tragedies - both on the personal front for their families, but also more generally, for us as human beings.

Tarun Mitra said...

@ Ladyfi..yes they are, every death is a tragedy..