This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Crimes I'd forgotten I'd written about
Some things are difficult to believe, but they still happen.
There is an Assamese woman called Monika Pegu Singh.
On 2 January 2007 she came from her village to Guwahati to seek her husband, a bus driver who had come to the city and "gone missing". She was pregnant. While at the city, where, remember, she was a total stranger, she suddenly had onset of labour on the street and was rushed by bystanders to a nursing home (Guwahati Maternity Home) where she gave premature birth to a baby girl.Two days later, on January 5, the nursing home discharged her and demanded she pay Rs3000/- for the delivery. When she could not pay it at once, the home refused to let her go. At last she said she would go and get it, but the home said it would hold her baby as collateral. She was crying on the roadside when other people found her, raised about Rs1300/- for her, and went back to the home on January 7. They were refused admittance and told the baby was not there. She found Rs 3000/- somehow and went back to the home where she was told that she had taken the baby with her when she was discharged. Locals helped her file a complaint with the police for illegal confinement and kidnapping on January 8. Suddenly, the next day, after the story was in the paper, the baby was found abandoned at the doorstep of a Hindu orphanage cum temple (Matri Mandir), dressed in a set of expensive baby clothes. Obviously the nursing home had sold the baby to people who, when the heat was on, decided it was better to get rid of the kid. Fortunately they did not murder it or dump it somewhere quiet where it would have starved or died of hypothermia. Also fortunately the mom got her baby back. Three nursing home employees have been arrested, of whom one is already hospitalised feigning illness. The prime accused is on the run.
It certainly doesn't pay to always depend on public callousness or the inherent helplessness of the villager in the big city.
I don't know what happened to the father, though.
There was this novel, by Beth Gutcheon, called Still Missing, which if I'm not mistaken was made into a film.
It was the story of a woman whose son went missing from school. Years went by, and her life disintegrated, but she never gave up hope, despite the barely concealed scepticism of those around her, that he would be found. Predictably, at the very end of the book, he was.
In real life, it doesn’t happen like that.
The place: Indian-administered Kashmir (comprising about a third of what we pretend Kashmir is).
As crowds watched, officials exhumed bodies of "Pakistani terrorists" killed in various "encounters" (the standard Indian terminology for firefights, whether real or stage managed, so that someone bumped off by the forces is said to have been "encountered") – and weeping relatives identified them as innocents missing, sometimes for years, after having been arrested by the army or police.
They had all been killed and passed off as enemy combatants. And this was far from the first time. The number of missing in seventeen years of war stands at, according to the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, between eight and ten thousand. At least some of them must have met the same fate as the carpenters and labourers who were shot by the forces as terrorists.
The reason: official pressure to show results in our very own "war on terror", and the considerable financial and other rewards on offer.
For killing an "ordinary" militant, a police team gets a reward of Rs 30,000. For a "B-grade" militant (I’m sure I can’t tell you how they classify these things) the reward money is a hundred thousand rupees. And for a top class "A grade" militant’s elimination or arrest, the reward is three hundred thousand to half a million rupees. So now you know.
(Wait a minute…did I say "arrest"?
Well, actually, the "arrest" of militants hardly ever happens any more. Even when they are captured, most are simply shot after interrogation in fake "encounters". No need for messing about with prisons and things. And a dead man can’t reveal that, no, he has never actually touched a gun in his life before.)
Besides, killing a militant usually brought out of turn promotion for soldiers (I’m told the current army chief has stopped this). Another incentive.
And rather than fight your actual fanatic jehadi, isn’t it rather easier to pull some poor fool off the street, shoot him, drop a gun on his body, and take a nice grisly trophy photo?
The army is ruthless enough. I, myself, have had an AK pointed at me for the crime of not moving out of the path of an army officer's little convoy fast enough on the streets of my own city. Civilian life means nothing to them.
It’s been done less lethally. In North East India a colonel, at the behest of his brigadier, poured ketchup over the recumbent bodies of commandeered villagers and took photos telling of how he had killed "terrorists". They both ended up court martialled.
I guess Hansraj Parihar, the police officer accused of orchestrating the latest killings, hadn’t any ketchup handy.
As if we hadn't had Enron and Halliburton to shine before us...
It's taking place at all levels nowadays. Gyp the customer if at all you can.
On Saturday, the 3rd of February, 2007, at about noon, I sent a parcel by FIRST FLIGHT COURIERS to Calcutta, containing an urgently required item. The consignment number was E82244880 dated 3 Feb 2007, the charge levied was Rs 80 (about twice I'd have expected to pay with a less upmarket firm), and I was assured that the parcel would be delivered on Monday 5 February.
However, my contact, to whom the parcel was addressed,having still not received it on 7 February, not any intimation of its arrival, I went to the office and asked about it. The office assured me that it had been sent and it had already reached Calcutta. I - with some difficulty, I was forced to phone their head office in Keatinge Road - acquired the phone number of the Calcutta office of the courier and passed it on to my contact.
When he went to the Calcutta office today (8th Feb), he was told that the packet had only been dispatched from Shillong yesterday - 7 February - presumably after I had gone personally to ask about it (and when I had been told it had already been sent on 3 Feb).
This is a case of not just grave deficiency of service but outright lying by FIRST FLIGHT COURIERS, who have no hesitation in charging premium rates and putting up self-congratulatory advertisements in the media extolling their premium services.
Let's remember all the big talk about how capitalism, and private service providers, are always superior to the state's bodies. And how, in this and for all I know in most other countries, the state deliberately neglects its own organisations in order to force people to use those private bodies.
If the profit motive is legitimate, and greed is good, then absolute greed is God, because the God hypothesis calls its central focus absolutely good.
It's a pity real humans just have to suffer.
Back in the final days of the Second World War, when the German Reich was collapsing, Allied troops who liberated the concentration camps found that German civilians quite effectively turned a blind eye to what was going on inside them, although they did not hesitate to buy or use the equipment produced by the slave labour of those very same concentration camp inmates.
"We just didn't know," as one Burgomeister proclaimed.
Caterpillarmakes bulldozers. Caterpillar’s bulldozersare being used by the armed forces of the racist, zionist, so-called state of "Israel" to demolish Palestinian houses and uproot Palestinian orchards as part of a process of collective punishment. And Caterpillar now has an office in Delhi and sells those bulldozers in India.
Boeing proudly confirms that it supplies aircraft that transport CIA victims of "extraordinary rendition" to hidden prisons in American colonies in Eastern Europe where they are tortured. Boeing also manufactures aircraft like the B52 that bomb and kill civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in other countries that the US has invaded.
And of course Boeing sells commercial aircraft in quantity to Air India, apparently to keep the Americans in good humour, because the buying of Airbus aeroplanes by Indian Airlines has to be balanced out…
Now these are civilian items peddled in India by companies that are deeply involved in the muck of profiteering from war. And also, it’s not as if BHEL doesn’t make bulldozers or Airbus Industrie doesn’t make commercial aircraft.
There is no way one can separate the act of buying from one arm of these huge firms without making oneself vicariously responsible, because one’s payments are funding them, from the actions of the other arm. One absolutely cannot say, "We just did not know."
I was watching - with a total lack of surprise - the Ukrainian father of a swimmer in the World Swimming Championships in Australia beat up his daughter for performing poorly, right in front of the cameras. The only thing odd about it was that it wasn't a South Asian dad.
After all, this is a part of the world where children, as I've pointed out previously, are thought to be the property of their parents and any concept of child rights is pretty much nonexistent. Parents are free to keep their kids illiterate (they "have the democratic right not to educate their kids", and never mind that all modern nations -democracies or otherwise - got there by compelling parents to put their children in school), to put them to work (including hard manual work) as soon as they can work (child labour, though officially banned, is never stopped and in fact is probably vital to the low-cost outsourced economy), to put them to prostitution as soon as they hit puberty ("traditional custom", and never mind that it isn't actually), and to beg (often mutilating them to garner sympathy).
Parents can even kill their kids - South Asia is the home of the honour killing. Though Pakistan is the most notorious, India probably far outstrips Pakistan in the actual number of honour killings, but because of propaganda purposes these inconvenient facts are suppressed. I recall one man who killed his daughter for the crime of falling in love tell the reporter - he had not yet been arrested - "She was my daughter and I killed her - what's it to you?"
And, like the Ukrainian girl's dad, thrashing children for failing in sports is not unknown. In Calcutta a couple of months back a man beat his son to death for not performing up to expectations in a table tennis tournament. If it hadn't been for the boy's mother, who went to the police, nothing of it might ever have come out.
Last year, a young boy named (by the media) "Prince" fell down a well and was rescued after a day and a half long operation played out live on national TV. This brought politicians flocking to give him and his family goodies and grants. Immediately afterwards, children began falling down similar wells all over. Either wells have magnetic properties for babies or else parents deem the possible sacrifice of a child worth the potential benefits. After all, investments are required to earn profits, right?
The Victorians said "Children should be seen and not heard".
In an overpopulated country, they can be thought of as disposable as well.
See, what did he do? He was going abroad. Well, gee whiz, as our American friends would say, if he had a visa to Canada he could visit Canada, couldn't he? It was his right and all? And if his wife and son had visas as well, they could go along, of course.
All right so far?
Now we know Mr Katara is a busy man, a national level politician and a Member of Parliament. How can he go around arranging visas, buying tickets, and so on? He has a secretary to do those things for him. So when he went to the airport, he went along perfectly innocently in the knowledge that his secretary had arranged everything. Of course, since his wife and son were travelling with him, they went along.
And now let us remember that Mr Katara is a busy man. Of course he is. He works hard all day and night for his constituents. In his line of work, he meets thousands of people every day. How can he remember individual faces and voices? How can anyone expect it of him?
So, is it really to be wondered that Mr Katara is - and was - honestly unaware of the fact that the woman travelling with him on a diplomatic passport was not his wife? Can it really be held against him that he failed to register the fact that the boy with her was not his son?
Not at all. The man is innocent. The facts speak for themselves.
It was all - all - the secretary's doing. Human trafficing bastard. Biting the hand that feeds him.
(OK, enough of the comedy. For those who don't know what I am talking about, check out this link.)
Now, I know Indian politicians are scum. But this time they have surpassed themselves, especially as nothing is going to be done about this. No party is clean. They are all criminals.
And in this India which is "booming, confident, globally in the ascendant," we have people still so desperate to go abroad for a "better " life (how? by loading garbage trucks in Toronto? I wonder if these people even speak a word of English, let alone French?) that they are willing to do anything to get there.