Tuesday, December 23, 2008

When Even a Son's Dead Body Becomes Anathema to Our Mothers...

FOUR MALAYALI Muslim youths were shot dead by security forces recently on the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir. It is a mystery how these youths from Kerala, who hail from the remotest part of India, reached Kashmir to serve themselves as jehadi fighters, as the police and security forces claimed. Investigations are still on, and some of the leaks that come out seem to suggest that they were recruited by a group of shady spiritual groups who took them to Hyderabad and from there to Kashmir.

This raises a question: are there shady groups who try to entice Muslim youths to such adventurism, and get them into trouble? Is there a conscious effort to paint the entire community as anti-national as the Sangh Parivar in its frenetic campaign in the past few days tried to establish? This is an issue the Kerala society will have to address in the coming days, especially the more serious sections of the minority community and those sympathetic to their present plight.

But there were much more serious issues involved in this sordid drama. One was the way the parents of the slain youths refused to even accept their dead bodies. As the parents said they do not want to bring their bodies home, the security forces had to bury them somewhere in the border, unsung and without even a tear or prayer from their dear and near.

But why did the parents say in unison they do not want to see the bodies of their children? I feel we need to ask this question and face the terrible reality of the sense of alienation, fear and isolation our Muslim brothers are now undergoing in our midst.

Here is a note on this I sent to a discussion group on this topic:

The situation of ultra-nationalism and jingoism ruling roost even in our legal circles is so acute and has vitiated the atmosphere in our courts, from local courts to the highest. Now that even the lawyers in Mumbai Bar Association refuse to take up the brief for the Pakistani national caught in the Mumbai terror incident, I suppose this question of denying basic legal service on the basis of one’s community or nationality could be brought back into public focus and some redress sought.

It is worrisome the way our society is unwilling to look at the basic things from a legal and human perspective. The case of the four Malayali boys shot dead in Kashmir border is a dark pointer. Their bodies had never been brought back home because one of the mothers said she did not want it; and others followed suit. Why? Was it patriotism or was it simple, unalloyed fear at work?

And why fear to take one's son's dead body and bury him, even if he is the worst criminal possibly? Since when did we start finding fault even with a dead body?

Why nobody is asking who is behind this kind of engineered fear, a fear which is celebrated by none other than our Chief Minister himself, and why one can't ask questions? Why our lawyers, writers and intellectuals do not tell the people that we do have some rights and even a criminal has a right to a decent burial with his family and friends around, praying for peace for him at least in the other world?

I received some responses to my post:

Here is what a human rights lawyer, Bobby Kunhu, wrote from Bangalore:

I am with you on this- exactly what worries me: years of struggle to get the Government of India to see POTA/MISA/TADA as counter-productive and suddenly we are facing all of them together; the metaphor being the mother being scared of receiving her son’s body.

Poet and writer K Satchidanandan also spoke up as follows:

NPC, I am in complete agreement with you. I felt really bad about that mother who disowned her son, probably under visible or invisible pressure. The mother-son relationship has many dimensions other than political. Contrast her with the mother of the Naxalite in Hazar Chaurasi Ma by Mahaswetadevi or why, Gorky's Mother who helps the radicals: Remember the Naxalite and the Russian Revolutionary are also "traitors" in the jingoist's lexicon. Would Bhagat Singh's mother have disowned her son? Of course now the jingoist would say he was killing and dying for the motherland, but he was against the State too.

Now see how the media and society seem to lionize those who refuse to carry out their normal professional duties in the name of patriotism. Here is a report from a Mumbai newspaper:

A mere refusal to handle the case of captured terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman, alias Qasab, has given lawyer Dinesh Mota, 46, a hero's status in the city. From train passengers to strangers on the street, everyone is congratulating him.

On Monday, as Mota boarded his regular first class compartment on the 8.15 am local to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus from Bhandup, he was greeted with cheers from his co-passengers. "They gave me a standing ovation, amidst loud cries of 'hip hip hooray' and 'bravo'. Many people gave me the thumbs-up sign. Even the women commuters from the adjoining compartment began cheering and clapping when they learnt what the noise was about. I was completely blown away by such a reception."

Here is another report from Indian Express on how Surat’s real estate brokers are saving the Indian nation from jehadi threat:

Claiming Terror strikes like in Mumbai cannot take place without local support or contacts, Surat real estate agents and brokers have decided not to rent or sell houses to Muslims.

This decision was taken at a meeting last Sunday which was attended by some 300 real estate agents, many of whom responded to SMS invites. They initiated moves to form an association, hoping to complete the process before the month ends.

Well, our nation need not worry because the real-estate brokers (the comprador bourgeoisie of our times) are here to safeguard our freedom!

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