Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The days when you dared to dream : Anecdotes

Being a boy enticed irresistibly by the freedom of an open horizon, I nodded instantly when my friend Freddy invited me for a fishing trip. When we set out, the air was darkening swiftly after the affluent splendor of a summer day. A propitious sky, marbled with pearly white, turned golden. We walked on the gravel path towards the ferry through the coconut groove. An Ambassador rushed past us grinding its wheels against the gravel and releasing dirt. The loose soil in the groove gave me an oppressive sense of strange sweet odor of fresh earth.

When the freshening breeze struck our brows with a cooling hand, we knew the river was approaching. The mangrove forest on the river bank, an impenetrable screen of foliage, was filled with the melodies of birds and bees. Cranes fished in the shallow waters of the canal flowing into the river. We stepped into the black inky waters of the canal, the floor was sticky with moss and decaying remains of water lilies and coconut leaves. The water in the canal was knee-high. Something moved beneath my feet, leaving a delicious throng of strange sensations of some thing alien and intrusive. It could be a fish, a tiger prawn, a water snake or a crab. We reached the bank where our canoe was fastened to a mangrove tree. Freddie united the canoe, as I was lost in the inexpressible fervor of serenity that surrounded the river.

The sun waned below the horizon, and the random gleam of moon light illuminated the river. We pushed the canoe into the high waters. I was not an experienced hand in setting nets, so I took the oar. Freddie broke into a folk song which I joined with the rhythm of the splashing oars. The tide was high from the west to the east, practically from the sea (Arabian) to the river. During high tide the river water becomes saliferous. The salt crystals dissolved in the water makes it glitter against the moonlight, and with the splashing of the oar you see water droplets become a thousand diamonds pouring out or a thousand pieces of burning coal.

“It is the interval” Freddy called out “we need to cast the net now”. By ‘interval’ he meant the lunitidal interval; the time between high and low tide. During the interval the river water becomes absolutely still and that is the ideal time for casting the net (some earth science from the fisher folk). I spat into the river some white foamy spit to check if it is still the tide. If the spit is still, it is the interval, if it is drifting then the tide. The spit was still and Freddy started setting the net and believe me it is a tricky business. You need to set it like a semicircular curtain in the water supported by plastic floats on top and lead pieces at the bottom. During the entire process I should keep the boat steady and keep a 45 degree angle between the unrolling net and the boat or else the boat will run into the net and the net ill be torn. And if you disturb the water before you cast net you will not catch any fish for you scare the fish away before your net is ready. Before the low tide we set our nets. We should pull them back by… may be an hour before dawn.

“To the shore” pointing at the other bank Freddy told “what” I quipped “May be we should get something to eat” he replied. I looked into the direction that Freddy pointed at, there was a lantern dangled against the wall. “That is a tavern kind of a thing, you will get everything there” he elaborated for my information. We paddled across the river, the river that was absorbed in the scent and murmur of the night.

The tavern was run by a lady named Anna. She provided food; liquor and sometimes even girls for the fisher men who respectfully called her aunty’ for most of them owed her money. We sat on the wooden benches and ordered for boiled Tapioca and fish fry. When Anna arrived with our delicacies, Freddy whispered something to her. “For something to drink” he explained when I looked at him. Anna brought a bottle of crystal clear liquid and stood against the wall and looked at us approvingly as we were the youngest of her customers. ………………...to be continued in the next post soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In the battle field

In the battle field
He was the one I engaged first
I looked at him trying to figure out
The reasons to kill him, but found none
I killed him finally to stop him from killing me
He looked happy that I saved him the trouble of killing me

Monday, May 11, 2009

The olive green fatigue

Why should there be a cry of victory?
So that the cries of the defeated cannot be heard

For me
It is not about the targets destroyed
It is all about the collateral damage
History is not about the past remembered
It is all about the past abandoned

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kasab’s Legal Status

26th November, 2008 was India’s tryst with the modern brand of terror. The state apparatus failed miserably to protect its citizens from the AK47 wielding fanatics. The city of dreams and the symbol of India’s financial might was held ransom by the terrorists for almost three days.

What is it that set this mindless act of violence apart from other acts of terror from the past? Was it the sheer magnitude of destruction it could inflict? Was it the sophistication and precision shown in carrying out these attacks? We are still groping in darkness for answers. The terror unseen and unheard finally had a face; Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab. Incarcerated in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, Kasab’s recent demands were a blistering Satire on the agitated imagination of a nation which is yet recuperate from the wounds inflicted by brutal attack on its citizens.

His brazen importunity for the amenities from the authorities is clownishly insensible since it comes from a person who displayed utter disregard for the integrity of the nation. In this article I am trying to decipher the legal intricacies involved in such a demand in the light of constitutional provisions, criminal procedure code, Indian penal code and international conventions.

In order to understand these we need to establish his legal status first. He is a foreign national who committed the most gruesome act of crime on Indian soil. He was literally waging a war against the nation. Is it possible to consider himself as prisoner of war? Or is he a normal criminal to be punished under the domestic law?

To be considered for the prisoner of war status Kasab should be a lawful combatant for the state of Pakistan and the state of Pakistan should be in a state of war with the republic of India i.e. the concerned states should have declared war against each other or should have engaged in an armed conflict. Considering the fact that the state of Pakistan has neither owned Kasab as a lawful combatant nor it is in a state of war with India, the argument for conferring POW is baseless.

He is not a normal criminal who has broken the law of the land but he is as terrorist who has chosen to fight in blatant disregard for the laws of armed conflict and is, accordingly, an Unlawful combatant. According to international conventions An unlawful combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent is a civilian who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and may be detained or prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action.

Hence we have established Kasab’s Legal status as an unlawful combatant; he should be punished under domestic law as an unprivileged combatant. He through his lawyer has been accusing that he was meted out with discriminate treatment in the prison. He there for is complaining that his fundamental rights has been infringed by the operation of the law or an executive order issued under the law. Let us check the legal validity of such an allegation.

Part 3 of Indian constitution which enumerates fundamental rights, places right to equality at the top of the table.

Article 14 of the constitution provides: The state shall not deny any person equality before law or equal protection of laws with in the territory of India. Equality before law implies absence of special privilege by reason of birth, creed or the like, in favor of any individual and the equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law. Equal protection of law means “that among equals the law should be equal and equally administered that like should be treated alike. In other words it means right to equal treatment in similar circumstances both in the privileges conferred and in the liabilities Imposed by the laws

When you bring forth such argument, we need to examine whether he was one among the ordinary prisoners housed in Arthur road jail. The person who is a detune as unlawful combatant is no way equal to a normal criminal, so the question of “like should be treated alike” in invalid. So if Kasab wants to get something in the prison let him rather beg than demand for he is a confirmed misanthrope waiting for a judicial verdict under the most extraordinary circumstances. The question is whether our legal system is affably accommodating?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


If bullets could talk
They would have told you
How tender the hearts they have broken
How intelligent the brains they have shattered
How affectionate the breasts they have pierced
How beautiful the eyes they have closed
How innocent the smiles they have taken

Bullets; the fastest of death's messengers
Thou art like a modern revolutionary
Travels always against the hunter
But never fail to kill for him
For bullets can neither talk
Nor can they alter course

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The End Game for LTTE?

Cultural simulation and ethnic cleansing has always been the root cause of all major conflicts in the past. The two and half decade long tussle between the Lankan army and the LTTE is no different on this count. Thanks to the recent developments the battle has now culminated to a boiling point, leaving LTTE with a very small chunk of territory under its jurisdiction and the civilians who are caught in the crossfire to appalling difficulties. When Jaffna which has hitherto been considered to be an impregnable fortress of the beleaguered outfit is all set to fall; the muddled political situation in the emerald isle is raising some disturbing questions.

The situation in the island nation is a bewildering maze of aimless confusion for the present government and the international community. There is no doubt that LTTE will fight with bestial ferocity to protect their ever shrinking territory and last bastions, resulting in high human casualties from both sides. Even more worrying is the plight of the civilians who are used by the LTTE as human shields and by the army as cover for their forward movement.

The homicidal mania entertained by both LTTE and the Lankan army will have a devastating effect on the social fabric of the nation leaving little space for future reconciliation. It will be an egregious mistake if the concerned parties don’t pay any heed to the anguished entreaties for a ceasefire by the international community and go ahead with the disastrous termination of each other.

It is now clear that the LTTE has lost a considerable amount of ground and is badly cornered. They desperately need a breather and are trying to broker a peace deal through their Indian well wishers in Tamil Nadu. The regional parties in Tamil Nadu wasted no time in seizing the opportunity and are on the roads demanding action from the Indian government. Honestly these politicians are not at all concerned about the potential human catastrophe but are worried only about their vote banks. But the situation brings forth a plethora of nagging questions.

As a regional power and an aspiring global power, should India once again engage in the turbulent politics of the emerald isle? Is it possible to bring the warring camps to the negotiation table and strike a peace accord? Will the congress government succumb to coalitional pressure and urge the Lankans a ceasefire?

The fall and consequent retribution of LTTE is almost certain but it also creates a political vacuum. Will there be a force to champion the Tamil cause in Lanka either by violent or peaceful means? How effectively can the Lankan government carry out the reconstruction of the captured territory? Will the Tamils which constitute a sizeable chunk of the nation’s population ever be back to the main stream of Sri Lankan life? Will they ever be adequately represented in the government and treated equally in the society. Can the international community leave the ethnic minority into bleak loneliness and subsequent extinction? Well, only time will tell.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poet and Lover

As the trees lost in silent darkness in the night
As mountains gathering wisdom in their meditating stance
As flesh talk to the weapon that cuts it
As the arrow whispers to the bow while leaving from it
As the rivers converse with the banks while running away
I was trying to tell you how do I love you
But now let me forget it
For when it comes to love
Poet is a rag picker
Perhaps I will look into your eyes and that will tell you better.