Not because of the picture of Guantanamo. Not because of what it says of the subversion of justice by the US Govt. and army, not because at one time we still thought of the USA as a supporter of fair play.
But because the kind of torture mentioned here is child’s play compared to standard practice all over India. It makes us realise how inured we are to the reality in our own country.
Some of my colleagues used to make gentle fun of me because, on the occasions when I got involved in the process, I used to stop the “interrogation” from getting violent. On two occasions within my first few months of field service, I was able to get information by scaring the person/s being interrogated. Play-acting, hard-man-soft-man stuff that probably would invite censure in some countries, but at least the person on the other side of the table was not beaten up. I compare that to the stories from a man who used to be a very good friend. “F***er, do you have any idea how difficult it is to break a human bone?!” He broke his hand during one such interrogation. “That’s why the lathi is indispensable.” This from the man who used to lecture me on ethics in the days when we were mugging for the exams together.
Pvt. Neely in his interview speaks of slipping into alcoholism because he couldn’t cope with the guilt of what he had done. And I think of the reality in India. Of the 8 year old girl who was brutally beaten by a UP cop on suspicion of theft. Of a man who is now mentally and physically crippled because he was suspected of rape. And I wonder, do these people never think of how the man at the other end of the lathi feels as it swings into his stomach? Does it take a special kind of insensitivity to be able to hurt another human being in cold blood? And if it is so common, perhaps the insensitivity is the norm rather than the exception?
And I am very afraid.
Update: Another Kafkaesque story of persecution (link from Sanjay Anandram). This was posted on the Tehelka web-site, so I’d like to see some cross-checking. But I don’t remember any of the a-v media following up this story. If true, this is terrorism too. Are we going to do anything about it?