A ‘Feenish’ Encounter

August 7, 2023by Rajeev Hora0

 “The family should have stopped him when he was treading dangerously Sahib.”

“Sahib, our state has changed quite a bit. There are no communal riots here, although  geographically we are bigger than many countries.  All credit goes to our CM.”

Seated behind in a taxy to Bijnor, I am enjoying my chat with the taxy driver who has become quite friendly by now. I love such rides where I get an overdose of political feel from the grassroot level. “How come Rampal?” I query taking the conversation forward.

Sahib, earlier there was goonda raj everywhere. Our children, especially our girls could not go out after sunset. Now they can. He has passed a very clear message to the rascalsYa sudhar jao, nahi to upar jao!

I am amused at the simplistic appeal of the message to the criminals- Either change yourself or we will set up a meeting upstairs with the Lord. “And has it been effective?” I ask.

 “Very much Sahib, now the goons think ten times before troubling you. Earlier there used to be a parallel government of mafia. Now we don’t have to pay them anymore. CM ka khof jo hai. (They are mighty scared of the CM). You step out of line and finish! I love the way he enthusiastically pronounces finish as ‘Feenish’.

 “Finish meaning?”

 “Sahib, straight forward encounter. Does not take time at all. All that is required is that the offender should be in the state territory. Thoda inter-state me bawaal ho jata hai. Sometimes, even that is not required if the criminal is in transit from one jail to another.”

 “But don’t you think these encounters are illegal. No judicial sanctity for such actions. For all you know, the guy who has been knocked out may actually be innocent.”

 “Then the guy’s bad luck must be real bad. But Sahib, you don’t quite get it. Everybody knew that Golu Dada was a hard core criminal who had terrorized the area. Twenty four cases of murder, kidnapping and assault were running against him. The courts could not implicate him and he was getting bolder. In fact, he was thinking of standing in the next state elections. And for all you know, he might have become a kingmaker.”

 “But how come the CM came to the conclusion that Golu Dada was guilty when it could not be proven in court?”

 “Arey Sahib, our CM knows everything. He has his sources everywhere. He has quite a feel of ground realities. And he is quite dabang (stylishly fearless).”

 “But he could be wrong once in a while,”, I challenge him.

 “Yes, maybe once in a while Sahib. But most of the time he is not and that is what matters to the masses. Logon ko insaf chahiye (People want justice) and that too without delay. That way you get a pervasive feel of security. There is no doubt it boosts the CM’s image of a strong man. After all, he has to win the elections as well.”

 I can’t help thinking about the Roman games where instant life and death decisions were made on sensing the mood of the crowd. Populist tools to drum up political support and sometimes to camouflage failings in economy. Somehow, the line-up of bulldozers in a newspaper pic reminds me of the Roman chariots. They had a part to play as well.

I search for answers,“ Rampal, what about bulldozing of the property and the houses of the accused? Not yet convicted but the whole family suffers in advance.”

 “The family should have stopped him when he was treading dangerously Sahib. Moreover, the house was made on illegal land. The ‘gorment’ had full right to raze it down.”

 “How about the thousands of other houses made on illegal land? Nazul* land is occupied in many states by squatters and in fact, traded without any papers. The govt does not touch them.”

 “Why should they be disturbed Sahib? They are peace-loving people and not criminals like Golu?”

 “But is illegal occupation of Govt land not a crime?”

 “No Sahib, you don’t quite get it. If a person has no place to stay, where will he stay? Not under the starry sky for long. And if at all it is a crime, it is too petty and not heinous like murder. Sahib, you have to turn a blind eye to some things. It is for the larger good.”

 Not making any headway, I try to get on the gyan (teaching) mode on the essence of democracy. The delicate balance between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. “Any one leg of the tripod gets broken and we get a flawed system which is not sustainable for long.”

“Sahib, aap tension mat lo. Langda bhi raat ko ghar pahunch jata hai.” Literally meaning, “Please don’t fret too much on this. A lame man also reaches home by night, albeit a little slowly.” The analogy is far-fetched for national progress but I choose to ignore it.

 I counter, “But see, what has happened to our Western neighbour.”

“Please don’t talk about them sahib. Nothing is left there. All their legs are broken.”

I nod in acquiescence, “Quite true Rampal”. Finally, we agree on something.

Bijnor is not too far away and lunch time is approaching. I am looking forward to a sumptuous lunch with my host. I am in for a bit of a rude shock as Rampal suddenly clears off on the left lane. The taxy is literally coughing and comes to a grinding halt.

“I am very sorry Sahib. It seems that the car has broken down. We are two km away from Bijnor. I will get a local taxy for you.”

Surprisingly, I am not annoyed at this intermission. I realize that he has run out of gas and I have run out of arguments. We obviously can’t continue the conversation any more. I throw in the towel reluctantly, “You win Rampal, I lose.”

Rampal in his wildest dreams could not imagine that this was some sort of a match. Quite puzzled, he looks at me quizzically “I don’t quite get it Sahib”.

 “Neither do I, neither do I”. Muttering under my breath with a notion of reciprocity, I shift to a different carriage. Out of nowhere, the umpire’s proclamation in a boxing ring echoes:

 Well fought Red, Blue the Winner!

 Feeling like a boxer on the losing side,
Horax (Casper)

Post script 1: *Nazul land means the type of Government land used for non-agricultural purpose such as building, road, market, playground or any other public purpose or has the potential for such use in future including such lands granted on long or short term lease or on no compensation agreement.

 Post script 2. Names are fictional. Resemblance to any person, living or otherwise is purely intentional.


First published at seekmediation.com on 07 Aug 23.

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