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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 24, June 4, 2011

Worrying Thoughts

Thursday 9 June 2011, by Humra Quraishi

Needless to point out that this turmoil in the neighbourhood relays an eerie build-up. No, definitely no feel-good signs for this entire region, as it gets writ large the indirect interventions of that superpower. The masses sit as sheer victims in these expansionist moves and the duality of roles played by the political characters, here and there. Its no longer hazy that the violence and the accompanying havoc has a pattern to it, a certain structure to it, a definite, much-layered design to it, and that’s why that disturbing daily dose of deaths and destruction taking place…

Focusing attention to these high profile arrests here, somehow that impact is missing. These arrests could have made headlines but do not carry tags of reassurance along the one-liner—okay, we have arrested these top brass and now a corruption-free state will flourish. Also, we have become so immune to these corruption tales and the various scams that these arrests of just about a bunch of high-profile chors do not impress. Have failed to hit.

SEVERAL worries stretch out. Realities stare hard. In fact, sometime back—whilst interviewing Justice Rajindar Sachar, the former Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi and the former chair-person of the Prime Minister’s Committee on Status of Muslims—I’d asked him to comment on some of these dilemmas hitting, bothering…. Foremost, the obvious shrinkage of the very basic democratic space, so much so that if an internationally known activist-doctor like Binayak Sen could be targeted then what must be the fate of the lesser known activists who dare to speak out. And Justice Sachar had this to say:

“Unfortunately, yes. The establishment is becoming more intolerant and there is definite tendency to involve human right activists in false cases. Many of our active PUCL members in UP, Gujarat are being maliciously proceeded under the security legislations. Certainty we are concerned with and put up a joint platform of human rights defenders to meet this onslaught by the government..... While the Constitution guarantees us to protest, to demonstrate our anger through public speeches/forums or through writings, the tragedy is that today these distortions are taking place. Thankfully there is no Emergency, so the aggrieved and affected can move court for the restoration of his basic democratic rights as provided in the Constitution…”Adding that there’s still much hope: “... In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.’”

I had also asked him to comment on the plight of the under-trials, and he‘d said: “This situation has come about because governments have not complied with the recommendations of the Law Commission, chaired by Justice Jeevan Reddy. As 60 per cent to 70 per cent of under-trials are charged with cases punishable upto three years or so, it had recommended that such persons only be issued summons for appearing in court and need not be put in jail, as the chances of these persons absconding are almost nil. That would reduce the jail populations and bring relief to the poorer sections. This is the correct way of instant remedy…”

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