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Friday, July 10, 2020

India: A Notorious Gangster Eliminated And Doubting Thomases!

It has been observed throughout the world at various times that when a criminal kills a cop the case assumes an altogether different dimension, and the elimination of the said criminal becomes a priority—by any means. Whatever connections or clout the criminal might be having with politicians or influential persons or even the police become secondary, irrespective of the elections the criminal might have fought and won with tickets of whatever political party. In the case of Vikas Dubey, a notorious criminal of Uttar Pradesh in India since the early nineties, as many as eight cops were killed on the 3rd of July 2020 when a police party went to arrest him in Kanpur, and the police party was reportedly ambushed by Dubey’s goons, supposedly on a tip-off from inside the police, resulting in the brutal killings of eight policemen including a DSP (Dy. Superintendent of Police). The fate of the gangster was sealed then and there, and his elimination was only a matter of time.

The first crime against Vikas Dubey or Vikas Pandit was registered in the early 90s and over the decades more than 60 criminal cases were registered including murders, particularly of a minister of state in 2001. Several times he got arrested during the period up to 2017, but due to his political connections he got acquitted all the time. Yet, he remained a most wanted criminal in the state.

Now, it is a common fact in India that every political party in existence here is used to maintain private armies consisting of goons on direct payroll for the dirty work like arm-twisting rival businessmen or rival political leaders or garnering votes by intimidation during elections. Every locality, particularly crucial ones, of the northern states of the country has a ‘Bahubali’ (Strongman) who reigns in the area like a parallel government. Such Bahubalis are recruited by various political parties and at times, through negotiations areas get assigned to a particular strongman of a particular political party. They even have moles in the state police forces. The point being made here is that the allegation of a political nexus of a criminal cannot be made only against a particular political party, because in the case of Dubey he had been enjoying political patronage of various ruling parties over the decades. A huge quantity of movies and television films have been made on this ‘Bahubali nexus’, and we have to admit that some reality has to be there to justify so many reel-works including a few artistically serious projects.

After the July 3rd escape Vikas Dubey roamed free for six days traveling through four states and finally landing up in Madhya Pradesh. On the morning of 9th July 2020, the dreaded gangster visited a most famous temple of the city of Ujjain to offer prayers. A shopkeeper selling flowers recognized him and tipped off the temple security. On interrogation by temple security men the criminal became violent following which the security called the police. The police came immediately and marched him off to the local station, and in the afternoon handed him over to Uttar Pradesh police. There had been allegations by opposition political parties and the media of a ruling party nexus that created an intelligence failure and allowed the criminal travel undetected. However, in view of his links with various political parties and his ‘friends’ even in the state police force we cannot be too sure on the veracity of such allegations.

The doubting Thomases became berserk. Although the media had been criticizing the government relentlessly over the six-day ‘intelligence failure’ this action, supposedly a success, did not get any thumbs-up from them, but only created more doubts for them: had this been a ‘staged arrest’ or a ‘meek surrender’! Debates raged over this throughout that day and night. Nobody seemed to remember that the criminal killed eight cops, and that after that why would he surrender only to get encountered!

As was inevitable, early morning on the 10th of July 2020, the dreaded gangster was killed in an encounter while he was transported to Kanpur in a police convoy. The police gave their version of having to kill him since he managed to snatch a gun from one of the policemen and tried to fire at them trying to escape. The doubting Thomases in the opposition political parties and the media again became berserk criticizing the police for a ‘staged encounter’ or an extra-judicial killing. From a logical point of view the opposition has no business to criticize another political party because of the simple reason that Vikas Dubey enjoyed political patronage from almost all the parties considering his ‘career’ over the decades. That the society has been freed from a dangerous criminal failed to get any attention from them. Of course, it is not considerate or even safe to support extra-judicial killings in a democracy; but exceptions must be considered in view of the circumstances like those brutal killer-rapists eliminated in a similar fashion in Hyderabad in 2019.

Ideally, we feel criminal-politician-police nexus must end as soon as possible. However, it is highly unrealistic to expect any change in the time-tested doctrines and ways of the largest democracy of the world in near future. Influence, clout and corruption go hand in hand in a democracy like India. Even the biggest ever crisis faced by humanity, the COVID-19 pandemic, has not yet been capable of uniting the country in its fight against the killer virus. Here too, tragically, the doubting Thomases are seeing a ‘scam sold to the world by the Chinese’ conspiracy angle! And, whenever elections are around everything falls into a set pattern, unfortunately, generating more redundant debates. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Haunted Pajama!

The boss asked me to come around 8 in the evening. Actually, he was not my boss, but one of my good friend’s. Once when I visited my friend in his office it so happened that the boss came to him on a query, and since I was sitting in his cubicle, he introduced me to the boss—a painter by profession, that is to say.  The boss seemed to like me at the very first instance asking me to come to his chamber for a cup of tea. Lively discussions ensued on creative arts, paintings, the market for artistes and so on. I found him to be open-minded and devoid of any air or ego. So, in a way, I liked him too—at the very first instance, that is to say.

Later on, I learned from my friend that the boss, in fact, was a very influential person in society and had tremendous contacts. Considering my not-too-healthy artistic pursuits in recent times my friend planted an idea in me: why not approach him for some references, he resides in a posh housing society—just 10-minute walk from my residence. To tell the truth, I needed some connections and references to be able to hold a solo exhibition in the best art gallery of the city and also to take things further in selling my paintings. Naturally then, I clutched at the idea like the proverbial straw.

I visited the boss again in his chamber on the pretext of meeting my friend and with lots of beating-around-the-bush I finally raised the subject of somewhat seeking a favor from him. To put me at ease he was very encouraging and told me that a famous cultural figure lives in one of the apartments of this society; he promised to take me to him. He asked me to give him a call before coming, preferably on week-ends.

I called him several times in the recent weeks, but always he found an excuse to not being able to do that on that day. Although I was a little put-off and frustrated and although I was not used to seeking or getting favors in my existential struggles I did not give up. And finally, today he calls me home, and will take me to the great personality. That was some solace to my sense of self-dignity; I looked forward to the promised meeting.

I pressed the doorbell of his first-floor flat, and I was ushered in by a housemaid. After about ten minutes he appeared beaming at me and dropped himself on the sofa from a considerable height. He was clad in a home-stitched traditional white pajama with a white vest tucked into it. Well, I ponder, it must be because of the humid heat. However, I continue with my thoughts, I do hear a mild whirring sound of ACs in operation inside: as I look around, I see an AC in this sitting room too, but not operating, and the ceiling fan gyrating rather too weakly. Well, I continue still, perhaps the boss avoids expensive ways of treating guests, particularly a non-profitable guest like me. But in any case I was a little disappointed at not finding him ready.

As he continued smiling at me in a rather worryingly relaxed way I managed with a gentle query, “Sir, how is everything? …are we going to see him presently?”
“Oh yes, definitely. But there is no hurry as such, he is as nocturnal as me. Ha! Ha!” he bellowed in the same nonchalant way. And he started chattering on a variety of subjects, often not waiting for my response.

After nearly an hour of inanities and my growing impatience he exclaims suddenly, “Ah! It’s so hot and humid! I really need a bath! Would you mind if I do?”
“Not at all Sir! Please do!” I replied with the inner-me not at all supporting my response.

Half an hour later, around 9.30 in the evening now, he came back and occupied the sofa in the same way. I was confounded finding him in the same dress—pajama, and the vest tucked in. And there begun another session of banter, my impatience slowly giving way to boiling anger. Another half-hour elapsed when he exclaims again, “Oh damn it! I feel very hungry now. We’ll surely go to him, but let him also have his supper. Please bear with me…I must!” He withdrew to the dining room inside. For a fleeting moment I considered storming out. But controlled myself hoping for action finally. I continued sitting there, and I was not welcomed even with a glass of water.

Just before 11 in the night he entered the sitting room again fondly caressing his belly; again, he was clad the same way with the drawstring cord of his pajama dangling out dangerously; again, he crashed into the velvety sofa, overwhelmingly relaxed and again he started one more session of inanities. I could hold it no longer.

About perhaps a ton of ire had been accumulating like phlegm at the middle of my stomach; now it surged up in great fury and it was thanks to my best of efforts that I could allow it only to scratch at my throat and stop dead there. The efforts made my countenance rather distorted as I felt my lips curling up gnawing both jaws and my eyes almost bulging out. I somehow managed, “Forget it for today…it’s got quite late. Good night!” I moved towards the main door without waiting for his response.
“No…no…dear fellow! We can still make it...but if you insist let’s do it next time. Please call me…!” the boss’s voice trailed off as I stormed out.

Although I was exhaling and inhaling only fury and a temper of the highest order, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out like a mad man on the way back home. I pitied aghast at my apparent helplessness and surrender and pondered why at all. Well, I decide, one should never do things against one’s wishes; one must be on one’s own at all times, odd or even…and keeping exchange of favors at bay. 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Mumbai Monsoon: And Finally The Rains…!

Finally, the South West Monsoon has decided to respect the forecasts issued by the Met department, and in line with the orange alert forecast for Mumbai and adjacent areas during 3-5 July 2020 moderate to heavy rains lashed Mumbai, its suburbs, Thane city and interior areas of Thane district. The aimless clouds hanging over the areas for nearly a month, in Palghar the rains came after a full month, finally became benevolent and converted into a rain-bearing dark mass. The sight of the dark clouds was really inspiring and the impact was immediate with the maximum temperature coming down to 28-29 from 33-34 degree Celsius and the minimum coming down to 25-26 from 27-28 in Mumbai while in Thane city those are 30-31 and 27-28 respectively. The humid heat that tormented the people for weeks evaporated and all heaved a sigh of relief—stay-home becoming more pleasant in view of more curbs being imposed in Mumbai and a total lockdown in Thane for 10 days. The rains started on the 3rd of July in a scattered way and gained momentum on 4th and 5th July.

Heavy to very heavy rains lashed Mumbai and suburbs in the last two days creating water logging in vulnerable spots, but just short of creating havoc, fortunately, for the COVID-hit metro. In Thane rains were mostly moderate and intermittent with one or two spots becoming water-logged while in the interiors the rains were heavier. Around 200 mm of rainfall was recorded each in Mumbai and Thane on 4th July. In other districts of Maharashtra too the monsoon made its presence felt once again bringing relief to the agitated farmers.

It looks at the moment that the monsoon has finally found it rhythm here, and looking up at the sky or enjoying the usual monsoon coolness one can be more or less sure that the rains would continue regularly for the rest of the season, and not create rain-water havoc with concentrated outbursts. As per the earlier forecast this year the monsoon is to be normal, and as we mentioned in an earlier piece it has already covered the whole of the country much in advance also recording an excess of June-rainfall in many parts. For Mumbai and Maharashtra we also hope that the spikes in Corona infections will be under control soon—several unprecedented things already happening: famous Dahi Handi (Janmastami) celebrations getting canceled and the historical Lord Ganesha (Ganapati)  Festival being restricted with the craze-of-the-city Lalbaug  Chya Raja organizers announcing its cancellation. The priority is to defeat the killer virus. Anyway, for the moment, get set and enjoy the rains…!    

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