Monday, February 16, 2009

There but for the grace of ...

This is a totally chilling interview. (Link from Thejaswi Udupa)

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?

6 comments:

km said...

But because the kind of torture mentioned here is child’s play compared to standard practice all over India

Really? Camp X-Ray is child's play compared to the standard practice all over India?

You've just spooked out half the Internet.

//Great link, that interview. BTW, have you seen the classic Vietnam docu "Winter Soldier"?

What's In A Name ? said...

I guess that's how it is. All ethics fly out of the window when the real crossroads is reached, when one actually has to decide.

Gamesmaster G9 said...

Not commenting on the moral question, but you do have to ask - in a system where convictions are impossible to come by, even for the most blatant transgressions, what does a well-meaning policeman do?

Lazyani said...

Agreed. The standard practise in India is so very shocking that these incidents pale in comparison.

The biggest problem is that here physical assault is used by the authorities irrespective of the nature of the crime.

I guess it is a way of display of power by the statutory authorities who are otherwise poorly paid and overworked. But even that do not condone the blatant use of the stick.

Hades said...

G9,

Not commenting on the moral question, but you do have to ask - in a system where convictions are impossible to come by, even for the most blatant transgressions, what does a well-meaning policeman do?.

1. A well-meaning policeman is somewhat of a rare entity.

2. If he is going to function outside the law why become a policeman? Vigilantism would be a much better career choice.

Hades

Gamesmaster G9 said...

Hades,

Agreed on the first point, but if we restrict attention to the few policemen who are, in fact, well-meaning, then vigilantism isn't really an available choice. If you want to strike terror into the hearts of evildoers by leaping from rooftops in the dead of night, you had better have inherited a multi-billion dollar corporation.