Pritish Nadny,born 15th January 1951,is a very versatile man who has linked diverse professions to his name.He is a Indian poet,painter,journalist,politician,media and television personality,animal activist and film producer.He belongs to Bhagalpur,Bihar and is Bengali by ethnicity.Nandy was educated at La Martiniere College and briefly at Presidency College in Kolkata.His first book of poems was Of gods and olives published in 1967.Three volumes of the same were printed in the 1960s and fourteen in the next decade.On Either Side of Arrogance(1968),In Secret Anarchy(1976),The Rainbow Last Night(1981) and Again(2010) are a few of his English poetry books.He has also written a short story Some Friends(1979).Translated by him are also poems by other writers from Bengali and Urdu into English.Among the many awards that he has won,Padma Shri,Outstanding Citizen Award and Priyadarshini are just a few to name.He currently is a columnist with The Times of India and Dainik Bhaskar.
Since I am sharing one of his brilliantly written article for the first time,I tried to give an orientation to the man.Here is what he has written.
Last week a 26 year old unemployed man, Sandeep Tatkare was caught by residents of Nallasopara, a Mumbai suburb, supposedly trying to escape after stealing a cell phone. It was 5 in the morning and bitterly cold. But it didn’t take more than two minutes for a flash mob to gather and catch Tatkare and deliver him the justice they thought he deserved. They tied his hands behind his back, beat him, kicked him, hit him with iron rods and left him almost dead. A few neighbours, seeing what was happening, called the cops, barely 5 minutes away. They arrived four hours later, only to file a case of theft against the half dead Tatkare. Was a case of attempted murder filed against those who almost killed him? No. The mob had melted.
Ten weeks earlier, an 18 year old boy, Sukhi Rehman Shaikh was brutally lynched in Dongri by a crowd that mistook him for a robber. He died almost instantly. A resident of Puna Estate slums in Danabunder, Shaikh was going to a grocery shop at 6 in the morning when he, too, was accused by a group of men of stealing a cell phone. So an alarm was raised. A flash mob instantly collected and quick justice was meted out to the young boy without anyone even questioning him and trying to find out if indeed he had stolen the phone. The police, again, turned up long after the frenzy had died down. They are still looking for those who lynched Shaikh.
What is it that makes perfectly normal people who have just about woken up in the morning suddenly get together and kill a person suspected of having committed a minor theft? They could simply recover the stolen property from him and give it back to the person it belongs to and then hand him over to the police. In both cases, they did neither. The mob dealt out merciless justice on the streets, in full public view. One victim died on the spot. The other’s teetering between life and death. The police intervened in neither case. And, till now, no one has been caught and punished.
So can we assume from these two incidents (and hundreds more that take place on the streets of India every day) that we, as a society, hate thieves? Rapists, murderers, bride burners are not lynched. Khap bosses are not lynched for ruthlessly killing their own kin when they marry without their consent. In fact they are lionised. So there must be something seriously wrong about stealing that it brings out the worst in us. Or is it only about stealing cell phones? Because we have seen some spectacular thefts in recent times and those who were caught got away so lightly that I, for one, thought that stealing in India was not a cognizable offence. There are many examples but the ones that instantly come to mind are the 2G scam where Rs 170,000 crore was stolen, the CWG scam where Rs 70,000 crore was stolen, and the Adarsh Housing Society scam where an entire building meant for war widows was stolen. We all know who the thieves are. They have been clearly identified, named. The proof against them is there for all to see.
Yet what happened to them? Nothing. Yes, they were removed from their jobs. But no one went after them and got the stolen money back. No one punished them. In fact, they are all strutting around, free men. So are hundreds of other politicians caught in the past for stealing. Remember Laloo Prasad? Remember Sukh Ram and the vast sums he purloined? Remember the BJP president caught taking money on camera? What happened to them? They were temporarily shunted out of their jobs and then, in most cases, sneaked back into office when no one was looking. If you look at our public life, theft is the most easily forgotten crime. Out of the 21 bureaucrats named in the Adarsh Housing Society scam, only two have lost their jobs. The rest are firmly ensconced in office and I am ready to bet will get away with it.
Only the poor in India are punished for theft. And the punishment they get is swift and brutal. Where do all these brave men in the flash crowds go when our netas and babus are caught stealing lakhs of crores? Why does the media go silent after a while? Do we all cower before the brute might of a political system that robs us every day and show our anger only towards those who can’t defend themselves? They are killed on mere suspicion while the powerful go scot free even when there’s clinching evidence of their culpability. Does politics provide immunity to these thieves while the ordinary citizen bears the brunt of our righteous anger? Are we such lily-livered cowards that we punish only the weak and allow the big time thieves to enjoy their loot?