Revenge or Justice?

“Justice is done” was the initial response of many Indians in the online and offline world, when the court verdict on Ajmal Kasab came out yesterday. I don’t understand what justice is being done here. Let me clarify – I am not talking about human rights and all that when it comes to Kasab. He deserves a severe punishment for the kind of crime he did. And a death row is definitely not a severe punishment for Kasab, because we are ending up doing LeT’s job for them. Kasab came here to kill as many people as he could and also either to kill himself or get killed in the process. And ironically, in the name of justice we are giving him what he really wanted – death. His masters would be happy that a country’s judicial system is doing what they originally intended to do – to kill a low-level suicide militant. Is that justice done to the victims of 26/11?

And is this going to send any message to LeT or such terrorist outfits? Is hanging Kasab going to stop them? Kasab’s masters would get a thousand Kasabs to replace him for their on-going or future operations. They have no use of getting a Kasab back, when they have new, unknown and enthusiastic Kasabs ready to kill themselves for their masters.

So what result is hanging Kasab going to bring? Kasab, the scapegoat of his terrorist masterminds in Pakistan, has now become the scapegoat here too. The government with all it’s intelligence failures and the inability to track down the mastermind roots will now gloat that we could kill a terrorist (after he’s done what he came here to do). The issue of our police force not being equipped with the right and proper armor (Karkare, a brave man, gave his life because of such ill-planning) will now die down.

I am not asking for mercy for Kasab, but a severe punishment; severe than a death sentence. And I think the best way to punish Kasab would be a rigorous life sentence as actor Rahul Khanna has tweeted. There would be more suffering than ending your life in a moment. With the hanging of Kasab, we are just taking a revenge, not doing justice.

And that’s got me thinking – When a victim takes revenge, it is called a Crime. When the state does that revenge for a victim, it is called Justice. Isn’t that funny?

Review: Slumdog Millionaire

Finally I have watched the much-talked about Oscar nominated movie by Danny BoyleSlumdog Millionaire and it is a thrilling and grippy movie. Slumdog Millionaire is a good entertainer at it’s best, but not a great movie or worthy of the talks it has going on about it. Because the movie is too much Bollywood-ish in it’s story line. But it is not surprising as the director Danny Boyle has mentioned drawing influence from many Hindi films including Company and Black Friday. Priyadarshan saar – please note this, as you seem so angry at Danny Boyle, that the director himself has credited his influences before somebody else has mentioned it. Ever cared to credit One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for Thaalavattam? Or… oops! I forgot!! There are way too many movies by you which have lifted story lines from Hollywood movies and made in Malayalam!!!

What is beautiful about Slumdog Millionaire‘s story narrative is the way the Q & A sessions connects Jamal (the lead character played by Dev Patel) back to his memories. It was a beautiful narrative to show how Jamal connected the game show questions to the events of his own life. But I think that Boyle did not need to bring in another narrative with the questioning scene in the police station. That was overdone.

Minuses and pluses

– The lead actor Dev Patel doesn’t sound like an Indian at all. At his best, he looks like an English man’s kid left at the slum in his early teenage. Dev does a horrible job of portraying the slum kid with his British accent which would not go away no matter how hard he tried (and we can see in the film that he tried hard). The movie shows Jamal serving tea in a call center, perhaps to add credibility to his British accent, but that doesn’t save him the embarrassment.

– I have one question. The youngster who plays Jamal’s brother does a good job and looks very native. Why wouldn’t the casting crew find someone of that sort? I am not blaming Dev Patel. I would rather blame it on the casting crew of the film.

– The game show’s anchor (played by Anil Kapoor) wants Jamal out of the show. For what, we do not know. We could understand if it was part of such game shows, planned by the entire crew, but the crew is actually happy at Jamal winning and the anchor is not. Why? The movie doesn’t give us a clue. And he throws him out to the cops at the end of the show. Excuse me?

Continue reading Review: Slumdog Millionaire

The distance from Taj to CST

The Mumbai terror attack has reaffirmed the fact that there are two faces of India. The common man’s India and the VIPs’ India. The thriving creamy layer has space everywhere and it’s opinion matters while the other India is nothing but some mere objects to use for power. Oh and I ‘m not talking about the political class yet, but the media.

The media reports on the Mumbai terror attacks make us feel like that the CST/VT shootout never happened. It was mentioned in the initial news reports, and then slowly pushed to the back bench. Taj and Oberoi had come in by that time. I can understand if it was because the fight in the Taj was the longest one in the whole terror episode. But even after the whole mess was over, little has been mentioned about the CST/VT shootout where 55 people were killed by the terrorists. But media loved Taj more. The images of Taj with flames filled the background of the news desks and TV channels everywhere. When 26/11 became India’s 9/11, the Taj was called as the Twin Towers of India. An icon of India, they said. The TV cameras couldn’t hold off it’s eyes from Taj even after the whole mess ended up. The common man and his CST was of no interest to them. Then came the elite – TV and movie stars, high-profile writers – right infront of the camera and began recalling their nostalgic memories of the hotel. Shobha De was furious. So was Ratan Tata.

India’s elite and creamy layer have got the clear message – that they could be the next possible victims of a terror attack. It many not always be those people who travel in the packed trains carrying thousands of ordinary people. It may not always be those pan wallahs, or sabji vendors who get killed by a time bomb. And that fear has made the elite spoke like they never did. And I guess the government would listen to them now.

In an article titled “Hotel Taj : icon of whose India?“, Gnani Sankaran writes:

And the TV cameras did not go to the government run JJ hospital to find out who those 26 unidentified bodies were. Instead they were again invading the battered Taj to try in vain for a scoop shot of the dead bodies of the page 3 celebrities. In all probability, the unidentified bodies could be those of workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh migrating to Mumbai, arriving by train at CST without cell phones and pan cards to identify them. Even after 60 hours after the CST massacre, no channel has bothered to cover in detail what transpired there.

The so called justification for the hype the channels built around heritage site Taj falling down (CST is also a heritage site), is that Hotel Taj is where the rich and the powerful of India and the globe congregate. It is a symbol or icon of power of money and politics, not India. It is the icon of the financiers and swindlers of India. The Mumbai and India were built by the Aam Aadmis who passed through CST and Taj was the oasis of peace and privacy for those who wielded power over these mass of labouring classes. [ Hotel Taj : icon of whose India? ]

Meanwhile, V P Singh, a former prime minister of India, who was fighting cancer for a long time passed away and not many people have noticed it. The media did not cover the news with the due importance even after the terror attacks. They were after banking upon the emotions after the terror attacks.

Deepak Chopra on Mumbai Terror Attack

Deepak Chopra talks sense in Larry King show. Excerpts given below:

Chopra: And right now, one of the questions, you know, after I heard Barbara Starr talking about how coordinated this is, that there are militant groups that cross international boundaries, is who is financing this? Where is the money coming from? We have to ask very serious, honest questions. What role do we have in this? Are our petrodollars funding both sides of this war on terrorism? Why are we not asking the Saudis where that money is going that we give them? Is it going through this supply chain to Pakistan?

It’s not enough for Pakistan to condemn it. Pakistan should cooperate with India in uprooting this. They should be part of the surgery that is going to happen. It’s not enough for Indians to blame Pakistanis. Indians should actually ask the Pakistanis to help them.

And it’s not enough for us to worry about Westerners being killed and Americans being killed. Every life is precious over there. We have got to get rid of this idea that this is an American problem or a Western problem. It’s a global problem, and we need a global solution, and we need the help of all the Muslims, 25 percent of the world’s population, to help us uproot this problem.

King: What does India immediately do?

Chopra: India at this moment has to contain any reactive violence, which is very likely and possible. So India has to condemn that by not blaming local Muslims. They have to identify the exact groups.

And the world has to be very careful that they don’t go after the wrong people. Because if you go after the wrong people, you convert moderates into extremists. It happens every time, and retribution against innocent people just because they have the same religion actually aggravates and perpetuates the problem. [Chopra: Attack prompts tough questions]

(via email from Jayswami. Image via

Mumbai Terror Attack – Some thoughts

Mumbai Terror Attacks

After watching all the gunfires, blood, gore and fire in Mumbai through live TV streaming, I went to sleep today by 4 in the morning. By the time I woke up, more than 100 people were killed and 200 injured (reportedly, 125 people killed as of now including 14 policemen and left 327 injured). The financial capital of India was taken under control by a group of terrorists. The fight was and is on. More than 24 hours passed and our police and army is still fighting with terrorists.

The attack seems to be planned and executed well, and it doesn’t look like it is done all alone by a home-grown terrorist outfit. Seeing the kind of massive ammunition and logistics they have (remember, they are still fighting us even after 24 hours), there must be some strong support from outside. Could it be global terrorist outfits like Al-Qaeda? Or is it the terrorist outfits rooted in our neighborhood Pakistan (and possibly supported by home-grown terrorists here)? Nobody has the answer yet, but the interesting thing is that the Pakistan’s foreign minister is on a 4-day visit to India from yesterday. So the attack could also be seen as an attempt to worsen the relationship between India and Pakistan.

Then I saw our Prime Minister’s face in the channels and by the time he opened up his mouth to “talk tough on terrorism“, I changed the channel as I was not in a mood to hear comedy. If these terrorists could take control of an entire city and kill more than 100 people and still fighting with the army, what kind of security do this country offer to it’s citizens? In India, only politicians and bureaucrats are sacred and valued, not the ordinary people who get killed in such terror acts. Oh, on that note, let me add, I really had wished (I know it’s a cruel wish) that a couple of our politicians were killed in one of these terror attacks, because it seems that only then the government would wake up.

It was a horrible scene to watch the Taj burn. And it took some time for the firefighters to reach to the spot. I’m just wondering, do we have any aerial firefighting method or was that option not feasible at the time? We spend money on so many feel-good projects, how about making our lives secure and feel-good? Is our government going to listen?

On the other hand, there are people who use this chance to spit venom on certain communities. The first thing that a colleague friend said in the morning was “I told you, all Muslims are terrorists“. Such blatant generalizations would only help to worsen the situation and cause unnecessary tension at the wrong time. I asked him if any Muslim was spared from the attacks or if only members of a particular religious community were killed. Well, it is better to ignore such people, but you can’t help just watching them spread hatred at this crucial hour.

My heart goes out to those who have been killed and their families. My salutes to the brave men who fought against the terrorists and those who have been killed in the process – Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and additional commissioner Ashok Kamte. We can also not forget the service of the Firefighters, Police, Anti Terrorist Squad, National Security Guards, Army, the people who helped and still helping the helpers, those who are donating blood, those who are helping in every way they can. We should also appreciate the journalists, particularly the TV channels like NDTV and IBN covering all the events from several parts of the city, giving continued updates.

India is indeed incredible. And our government can perhaps change the tourism slogan to “Terrorist Devo Bhava“. You are welcome here fellow terrorists; please do come and bless us with your bullets.

(Image courtesy: