India is a queer land where many unbelievable developments happen every moment. Some of them are chronicled, others go unreported. Here an attempt is being made to portray the shocking side of India. If you have any problem in believing them, suffice would be to say; well this happens in India.
Have you heard about the traditional practice of senicide (killing of the elderly, whose illness gets prolonged and who refuses to die) by their own family members? Known as Thalaikoothal, its practiced in some parts of Tamil Nadu where the elderly person is given an extensive oil-bath early in the morning and subsequently made to drink glasses of coconut water that results in renal failure, high fever, fits, and ultimately to the death. Thalaikoothal has covert social acceptance and in some cases even the relatives called for the ceremony when it’s performed. These days lethal injection is given to perform Thalaikoothal, to make the death less painful and prolonged. This barbaric practice continues to thrive as people seldom complain to the police. Do you have a problem believing this? Well this happens in India!
The two holy cities of India; Mathura and Vrindavan houses more than 5000 widows who are living in pathetic conditions in the ashrams meant for them. These widows move to these holy cities in their twilight years as they believe to wash away their sins and attain Nirvana if they die in these holy places. However, after their death here they are denied basic human dignity. Their bodies are disposed off chopping into pieces and packing in gunny bags and being thrown on the river banks. Do you have a problem believing this? Well this happens in India!
In the coastal Tamil Nadu at Koodankulam, a valiant and peaceful protest by thousands of local people living in the vicinity of the under construction nuclear plant was met with brutal police repression. Tamil Nadu police has filed more than 55,000 FIRs against local villagers; among them some 6800 are charged with ‘sedition’ and ‘waging war’ against the nation. Do you have a problem believing this? Well this happens in India!
Odisha dateline 2006, when 14 Adivasis, were gunned down by the Police at Kalinga Nagar for protesting against accusation of their land by the Tata Steel Company. The National Human Rights Commission had discovered that Adivasis were forced to give it up their land were without adequate compensation with police intimidating and filing false cases against them. Such treatment of Adivasis is not unusual in India; thousands of them are languishing in jails often without a charge-sheet filed against them. The general opinion that is built about Adivasi is they are a Moaist. Do you have a problem believing this? Well this happens in India!
If Adivasis are Moaist, Muslims are criminals. There are 102,652 Muslims languishing in Indian jails. The number of Muslims in jails is highly disproportional to their population. The estimated proportion for the Muslim community stood at an approximate 12 per cent in the country, whereas the number of Muslims in jails stood a ratio of 22 per cent. According to the recent National Crime Records (till December 2010), West Bengal has the most number of Muslim prisoners with 47 per cent, Maharashtra Muslims account for 10.6% of the population, they comprise 36% of the prison population. In Gujarat, where Muslims account for 9.06%, they are 25% of prison inmates. Karnataka’s Muslim population is 12.23%, its jails have 17.5% Muslim. In Uttar Pradesh Muslim prison population is 26 per cent and in Bihar its 23 per cent. Most Muslim prison population is those of under trial than the number of convicts. Do you have a problem believing this? Well this happens in India!
In India you can also find armed extremists and criminals living comfortably in designated camps in the Northeast. They live under well-defined `ceasefire’ agreement with the Indian State. However in spite of restrictions on their movements, these militants cross the line of control at ease. Its common knowledge that they reign in night while the Indian state rules during the day. Do you have a problem believing this? Well this happens in India!
Contrary to northeast, it’s the Indian Army that holds sway in the Kashmir valley. The life, liberty and honor of the common Kashmiri people are at the mercy of these men in uniform. They live in an open prison under the watch of the barrel of the gun oozing out of the Army bunkers. Like it or not, the paradise on earth is reduced to a garrison state. Do you have a problem in believing this? Well this happens in India!
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, is blamed for the insurgency in the northeast. The iron lady of Manipur, Irom Sharmila Chanu is demanding its repelling and is on hunger strike since November 2000. Her protest has now become the world’s longest hunger striker entering more than 700 weeks. This kind of Gandhian protest once had shaken the might of the British Empire, but the Indian state seems undaunted even 12 years of such protest. Do you have a problem in believing this? Well this happens in India!
While Anna Hazre and Baba Ramdev’s fast hogged media limelight, the fast of Swami Nigamanand went unsung. The Swami, who went on fast to “Save River Ganga” was allowed to die during his protest. The Swami demanded ban on mining to save Ganga and when his fast entered the 68th day (last 40 days in coma), was admitted to Haridwar district hospital, where sheer medical negligence resulted in his death. Earlier, he was successful in closing all the stone crushers in the ecologically sensitive areas around the Ganges banks. This time he was protesting against the Himalayan Crusher Company that was continuing its operation. At that time the entire country was busy watching the high drama of fast being played in New Delhi, its total neglect of the media that took the toll of a real crusaders life. Do you have a problem in believing this? Well this happens in India!
This discussion may not be complete without the mention of the notorious mafia dons who live like kings in the prisons of UP and Bihar. They are served with the best of food and alcohol inside the prison cell. They settle property disputes; dictate transfers/promotions/appointments of government officials; they make phone calls to politicians and business leaders dictating them their demands. Do you have a problem in believing this? Well this happens in India!
One can go on enumerating such inchoate images of India, but each of them can be contoured providing the brimming side of the country. It’s often said what true about India the opposite of it is also true. Well that’s the beauty of this country. Do you have a problem in believing this? Well this happens in India!
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org