The pain, shame & gloom….

These thoughts that i had written during the Bombay riots in 1992-93. A lot happened during that time..visions that i still see, events that are vivid. My niece’s wedding was on Dec 6, 1992, when a BJP leader from Pune was ecstatic, “Yes, we did it padli amhi Babri Masjid..” I could feel the chill on my back coz i could envisage the events that would unfold in the next few days. Days? Seems the thread is broken forever..

i will be honest-i had NOT expected riots that would ruin a good community feeling for the rest of our lives…that Bombay was forcibly converted to Mumbai.

My father, sister & I left by train for Bombay the very next day & it was shocking- had to pull down shutters, fm Kalyan people had begun throwing stones at the trains, delays & people rushing wt fear in their eyes when we did reach VT. As we neared Girgaum there was not a soul on the streets..reminded me of the dark window days of Indo-Pak war.

I have a friend-Altaf, who’s name is a give away. So less said the better..it was tough for his family too that was uprooted from their home in Tardeo..life was not the same for all for few months. Years after normal life was restored, the Shaikhs could not put up their name plate! Apart from that being followed, prowlers making anonymous calls at midnight, 1.00am to create rift, threaten me, telling my father ‘keep that girl who goes out indoors…” there was nothing lesser than a war in Kolhatkar household. Where my beliefs, activities were not approved by most…

1.

The air is tensed & the skies rage with hues of fires
Little children, youth & adults are gripped in a mania
Reason, is visibly absent
All perform ‘acts of duty’ with utmost loyalty
For whom? As inexplicable as the acts of violence
Ironic, you see hatred more on faces of those who pulled down the Masjid
Revenge for whom?

They have sent fear down streets of ‘Bombay’
No bearded man or a burqua lady is being spared
Men are forced to pull down their pants
witnesses ensure there’s no one circumcised!
Majority indulgences in thrills to satisfy their sadism
Scared they will be out numbered soon

Is this the triumph of any religion?
Who are these victorious soldiers?
What medals should be conferred on them for merciless murders?
Children have died, women raped & riots on the streets
Arson, shooting and houses destroyed as clouds of smoke blur the horizon
Sounds of swords, bottles and tube lights ring in the air

Are we the same peace-loving Indians? Is this democracy?

2.

‘This is just the beginning,’ warn the hardened Hindus
The quiet tolerance has disappeared
They smirk devising heinous plans
These frenzied have become the voice of majority
But most civilians are mere mute participating in a vicious game plan
Do they realise they are being used?
A chill is sent down our spines as the commissioner orders shooting a baker’s family
While in the suburbs a politician is cleared of carrying arms & explosives

Blame game has begun whilst a gangster has initiated a new terror chapter
A blanket of fear has covered the faces of common people
Bombayites witness one of their worst nightmare
While our government turns a blind eye to all destruction
Gory visuals leave all benumbed, sadly not shamed
The world watches Bombay change from cosmopolitan to communal

3.

The war continues..Now even the middle class has taken to looting, killing & using force
Unfulfilled desires surface, as the rich too grab from the muck
Confusion surrounds the goals & motive for rioting, people look dressed for some Halloween
Except no sweets are asked at the door, they break-in to spread terror

Anger, pain, and isolation have embraced the scary souls
Haunting memories make them shiver
Lights are out in mohallas where all whisper in fear
Nameplates are missing from doors & many tip toe towards nearest city exits

The homeless huddle in clusters & cries of children echo across the over-crowded stations
Platforms have disappeared under sea of humanity, all look in stunned silence
Only heads are visible-caps or burquas, many have still retained their lost identity
For many the journey of migration to safety has begun, destination still unknown

4.

Are these crackers heralding a New Year or gunshots & blasts?
Shimmering sparkle have set the streets on fire
The epidemic of religious frenzy has spread wildly
Humanity has been thrown in a whirlpool of pain
Most have been uprooted, is this a war?

The markets are closed & goods vanished
Only ashes remain on the ground
Hunger is the last worry on their minds
Fathers are prevented from going to work,
Police arrest thousands from only one community

Leaders cry for strong action but the administration fails to deliver
Is this the city I was born in?
Everyone seems to have joined hands to claim their share of ‘power’
These are plain chess moves & the reins in the hands of conspirator
Madness continues as even noble attempts to restore peace seem superficial

The culprits are at bay, but rest live in a world of suspicion, hostility & revenge
All have been used & abused, but the conspirators sleep well
The crack is now evident, they have succeeded in dividing us
All we can now do is plaster & paint,
But we will never be able to hide our shame

5.

My journey on the BEST began being seated on the last row
My serenity was broken suddenly by loud sounds of laughs and loose talks
The hooligans rushed to squeeze next to me What was the excitement?

After many days this travel was possible
The bus was full as my eyes searched for rescue from the taunts & jibes
Ahead sat a lonely man isolated from the rest
His beard was a give away, my saviour was right there!
He among the few had still not shed their respect

his fa� ‘ o����s uprooted from their home in Tardeo..life was not the same for all for few months. Years after normal life was restored, the Shaikhs could not put up their name plate! These are my thoughts…

1.

The air is tensed & the skies rage with hues of fires
Little children, youth & adults are gripped in a mania
Reason, is visibly absent
All perform ‘acts of duty’ with utmost loyalty
For whom? As inexplicable as the acts of violence
Ironic, you see hatred more on faces of those who pulled down the Masjid
Revenge is for those who saw their place of worship crumble

They have sent fear down streets of ‘Bombay’
No bearded man or a burqua lady is being spared
Men are forced to pull down their pants
witnesses ensure there’s no one circumcised!
Majority indulgences in thrills to satisfy their sadism
Scared they will be out numbered soon

Is this the triumph of any religion?
Who are these victorious soldiers?
What medals should be conferred on them for merciless muders?
Children have died, women raped & riots on the streets
Arson, shooting and houses destroyed as clouds of smoke blur the horizon
Sounds of swords, bottles and tube lights ring in the air

Are we the same peace-loving Indians? Is this democracy?

2.

‘This is just the beginning,’ warn the hardened Hindus
The quiet tolerance has disappeared
They smirk devising heinous plans
These frenzied have become the voice of majority
But most civilians are mere mute participating in a vicious game plan
Do they realise they are being used?
A chill is sent down our spines as the commissioner orders shooting a baker’s family
While in the suburbs a politician is cleared of carrying arms & explosives

Blame game has begun whilst a gangster has initiated a new terror chapter
A blanket of fear has covered the faces of common people
Bombayites witness one of their worst nightmare
While our government turns a blind eye to all destruction
Gory visuals leave all benumbed, sadly not shamed
The world watches Bombay change from cosmopolitan to communal

3.

The war continues..Now even the middle class has taken to looting, killing & force
Unfulfilled desires surface, as the rich too grab from the muck
Confusion surrounds the goals & motive for rioting, people look dressed for some haloween
Except no sweets are asked at the door, they break-in to spread terror

Anger, pain, and isolation have embraced the scary souls
Haunting memories make them shiver
Lights are out in mohallas where all whisper in fear
Nameplates are missing from doors & many tip toe towards nearest city exits

The homeless huddle in clusters & cries of children echo the over crowded stations
Platforms have disappeared under sea of humanity, all look in stunned silence
Only heads are visible-caps or burquas many have still retained their lost identity
For many the journey of migration to safety has begun, destination still unknown

4.

Are these crackers heralding a New Year or gunshots & blasts?
Shimmering sparkle have set the streets on fire
The epidemic of religious frenzy has spread wildly
Humanity has been thrown in a whirlpool of pain
Most have been uprooted, is this a war?

The markets are closed & goods vanished
Only ashes remain on the ground
Hunger is the last worry on their minds
Fathers are prevented from going to work,
Police arrest thousands from only one community

Leaders cry for strong action but the administration fails to deliver
Is this the city I was born in?
Everyone seems to have joined hands to claim their share of ‘power’
These are plain chess moves & the reigns in the hands of conspirator
Madness continues as even noble attempts to restore peace seem superficial

The culprits are at bay, but rest live in a world of suspicion, hostility & revenge
All have been used & abused, but the conspirators sleep well
The crack is now evident, they have succeeded in dividing us
All we can now do is plaster & paint,
But we will never be able to hide our shame

5.

My journey on the BEST began being seated on the last row
My serenity was broken suddenly by loud sounds of laughs and loose talks
The hooligans rushed to squeeze next to me What was the excitement?

After many days this travel was possible
The bus was full as my eyes searched for rescue from the taunts & jibes
Ahead sat a lonely man isolated from the rest
His beard was a give away, my saviour was right there!
He like few had still not shed their respect.

Dr Binayak Sen -fighting charges of sedition

The medical practice is the only profession in our country (atleast i know India) that has to take an oath. The docs are not supposed to be profit oriented and more so, since diligent tax payers like me file returns & pay taxes, their medical education is highly subsidised. So they are supposed to take an oath of serving 1 yr in rural villages & be committed to public. That is the main reason for subsidisation of this otherwise expensive studies.

One such diligent medical professional & gold medallist is the man in the picture above. Dr Binayak Sen. Who has a wife, Ilina & 2 daughters. Today the family is scattered thanks to Govt of Jharkhand, GOI & High Court that has ordered him to life imprisonment.

Dr Sen went on to Chattisgarh which was once part of Bihar before. Sen dedicated his life to the poor, mostly those who can’t afford to eat even rice twice a day, forget 3 times. And they are totally deprived from absolute basics like food, opportunity to earn living, basic education & will to survive. Most of us will never be able to identify with that. So let’s be honest about this fact.

Sen gives them medication, helps them to live, ensures the women don’t die while pregnant, at the time of delivery, lack of nutrition,  don’t die after delivery due to lack of iron or blood. He ensures the children in that region don’t die due to malnutrition & starvation. This i am sure is of most significance. He also treats them for diarrhoea, cholera, malaria & they get medicines free of cost.

People in cities may never know the importance of these things. It is so vital to have healthy, normal citizens who are not a burden on our economy. Ill, disabled deprived population adds burden to the economy, Which the governments should be reducing, but play politics with it. This most valuable difference is so vital. Even more when we realise he’s made a difference in an area where govt has never bothered to reach or never will.

In the interim period. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) reached in these remote, tribal areas of India. The cadre & workers mostly educated, rich, who left their comforts & warm environments came to dedicate their lives to the betterment of these poor tribals. Well they never will get medals for sure. Yet someone was acknowledging them, someone valued & cared for them. The fact that the tribals would never forget. Soon many felt frustrated, the lack of governmental intervention has its limits too. The cadre also began feeling it. They realised things & systems are not changing & soon we saw the rise of extreme Maoist, Naxal activities of their cadres resorting to violence.

Killings took place -till now mostly of the officials, administration of those who were key players of our corrupt systems. Till then most felt, “Its ok, the govt calls for trouble if they don’t change & get to the grassroots.” the govt never has done it & will never do. So then anger, frustration drove many to guerilla war fare. The naxals began attacking civilians. However the tribals never diminished their support to the naxals. For the reason that they survived indifferent death.

Dr Sen meanwhile dedicated his life to serving these poor tribals. His wife & children lived in Wardha & would frequently visit him in Raipur too. their lives took a change for sudden. Dr Sen was arrested. The last 7 years he is fighting all sorts of charges put on him forcibly, for which there is NO evidence at all.

OK, tell me when you go to visit your personal doctor how do you like your dr to be? Detached, Impersonal, straight up, come to the point Ms/Mrs/Mr so & so. Or at least i like my dr to smile, laugh, relax, be warm welcoming & i want to tell him something personal -my illness.

May be its an Indian trait or what i don’t know, we don’t stop here. We patients know about the doc’s life, more so he knows lots more about ours. We feel nice if our doc enquired about our spouse, gf/bf, children, their progress, our personal problems, etc. The usual appointments of docs go on for a while.

We tend to consult the doc see him as a guide & in a country like India, Doc is equated with GOD. Whoever, whatever there may be. Many of us want our parents or kids to listen, follow certain course of medication, diet we ask our doc to do so. We request him to have a talk with our family members, because we are confident they will listen to the doc. Its understood. The doc doesn’t simply ‘passes on our message’ goes beyond & convinces the individual. So we want the doc to be our advisor, counsellor or communicator, to get some work done.

Imagine this situation a tribal area. It’s far more intensified. The families who may know nothing about medication, treatments & illness in the first place. Besides imagine the activists who lived here, leaving behind their families in cities while they lived in remotest corners. Now take this further. Some of these got arrested. Not all have worked in arms training or imparted arms training or even picked up arms. Some really went there to teach -educate the children/adults.

The informal non-religious, non-formal and absolute socialist form of education. So what. At least they informed poor, illiterate tribals of their rights, schemes, funds available that they can use. As a result, many who got arrested and have been sent on rotation from 1 jail to another do have families. Some have multiple families. Some have really tiny kids. In fact one alleged Naxal saw his kid last when he was just born! They feel lonely. They too are human concenred of their families & more so the academic progress of their kids. They are given crap food, with worms, stones, etc. Most have been beaten. You can make out after their releases interim ones though.

These Dr Sen types have been languishing in jail for like 7 years plus. So while they are in jail they also would to reassure their wife, kids, daughters especially how to cope with these circumstances. They want to tell their children to not fall for loose talk, taunts NOT to get emotionally vulnerable. Also words of caution, ask them to be careful.

This is NORMAL. I’d have done or communicated lot more. Remember the arrested naxals are denied all rights. NOT even allowed to write letters to their families. What if they have sent encoded messages you know!

So the Chattisgarh govt of BJP stepped up its anti-naxal activities. & while they wanted to arrest the violent Naxals, whom they couldn’t zero down upon, they simply arrested Dr Sen. He got bail after 7 years and trial began. Unfortunately during the trial most media IGNORED the issue. in this interim period i happened to write a piece on children of few naxal leaders. I spoke to Pranhita.

“When rumours of Binayak’s Sen’s arrest were doing the rounds in Raipur, where he lived and worked, his family was on edge. Pranhita was at the time studying in a college in Kharnagar, a few hours from Raipur. Her life changed after Sen was arrested on May 14, 2007. She started getting threats.  Leaflets would be slipped under my door, saying ‘they’ knew I lived alone she says. I am now scared to talk to people. Even when you messaged me for this interview, I felt nervous. Free Binayak Sen campaign, and is the cinematographer for a documentary the People’s Union for Civil Liberties is making on the case. Working for the campaign has also helped Pranhita appreciate her father’s work. ” At the same time, she says she holds no grudge against the neighbours who shut their doors and windows when a posse of nearly a hundred policemen arrived to take her father away. “They called my father a terrorist and shut us out. But calling him names does not make it true.”

The daughter & other children have to live with these tags like “terrorists”. The Chattisgarh court has charged Dr Sen with ‘sedition;’ The definition – “actions or speech urging rebellion against the authority of a state  or ruler.” So to treat the poor, live among them. To pass on messages if the cops are to be believed, is this a crime? More over to prevent illnesses, death of women & premature babies, immunise them is going against the country.

Do we not always communicate, send messages to one another? what’s social networking i wonder? Now if Dr sen has sent messages of these arrested in Jail to their family members, it becomes sedition? This is maths gone wrong. Bcoz the police aren’t doing thorough investigations, they have failed to catch real culprits. They can’t put an end to Moaism so they catch the person doing some good work there. Sure some good work this is.

Instead of calling for other NGOs, calling CPI (M) cadre to talk, taking schemes to the poor in those remote areas, ensuring even if there’s 1 child he gets to study, instead the govts send para military troops, naxal combat teams to finish the activists, people? the real problems remain unsolved.

But the truth is those who know less about the movement, about Maoism, Communism in this country, will draw their own conclusions. Worse still, since most do not have family doctors who take the extra effort, charging pittance & helps to prevent disease, we will never believe Dr Sen is only pracitising medicine. Dr Sen has at no time propounded, promoted or supported violence & killing in the name of maosim. To call him naxal in itself is wrong. Actually they are driving nice people towards it. Worse still they’ve called Dr Sen as terrorist? Who exactly has given us the right to call this med doc such names?

People also say, “what’s the truth, he was a naxal na?” He helped the naxals, maoists, so he is anti-national . On what basis are these allegations being made? Read what i’ve written. Ask ourselves the basic questions we have read. Draw your conclusions based on it. Else find a better family doctor yourselves.