Sunday, June 5, 2011

That's all, Your Honour! : May 29 - June 4

1. Yoga guru, Baba Ramdev announced sometime back that we will begin a fast unto death from the 4th of June, demanding that the black money that is stashed away in foreign banks be bought back and also be declared as national asset. When he reached Delhi, 4 Cabinet ministers including Pranad Mukherjee and Kapil Sibal went to the airport to meet him and persuade him to stop this fast. After facing flak over such bank-bending, the government reduced the negotiating team to just two Cabinet ministers. And of course, since there was all round flak, it was also revealed that Sonia Gandhi was not kept in the loop for this decision. Anyways, so the negotiations continue and break too. June 4th arrives and it is then that some light is shed on Baba Ramdev's demands. Some of the demands in the list are too brazen, like death penalty for corrupt officials, abolishing Rs.1000 and Rs.500 notes etc. He begins his fast on the morning of 4th. Announces in the evening that government has agreed to his demand of declaring black money as national asset. He says that once the written confirmation arrives from the government, he will end his fast. And here's where the twist happens. Kapil Sibal shows a letter to the media, written by one of the members of Baba's camp, assuring the government that he will end the fast by June 6th (not sure about the exact content, because believe it or not, no media publication has the full copy of the letter so far).

And from here, all hell breaks lose. Ramdev is caught on the backfoot, and media goes on the offensive saying Ramdev betrayed his supporters. Ramdev clarifies that they were forced to write that letter, and since he didn' believe the government until they gave a written clarification, he assured them that the fast will be called off once the written confirmation comes in. Ramdev gets angry with Kapil Sibal too. Meanwhile, rumours start circulating that the government was planning to arrest Baba Ramdev. And in what can be considered as one of the most shameless actions by the government of India, police scoop into the fasting ground at midnight, arrest Baba Ramdev, use teargas to disperse supporters, and also lathicharge them. Before the supporters and agitators knew what hit them, they were evacuated from the ground.

No single English TV media house showed us pictures of those injured. Until the leader of opposition, Sushma Swaraj informed us of names of people who were seveerly injured (some paralysed for life too). What was their fault? Supporting someone they believe? A midnight attack on people sleeping is how we treat peaceful protestors now? The government claims that they were afraid terrorists will infiltrate into the massive crowd, hence the action was warranted. Congress spokesperson Digvijay Singh calls Bab Ramdev a thug and he deserved this treatment (Digvijay addressed Osama as Binladen ji), Kapil Sibal says this should serve as a lesson for all (if this doesn't amount to threatening then what does?). So now what should we believe? Terror threat? Thug Menace? Or muscle show by government?

2. Earlier this month, there was an attack by Al-Qaeda on a naval base in Karachi. It was a 10-12 hour long battle. One journalist, Syed Saleem Shahzad, wrote a blistering piece detailing how Al Qaeda has penetrated into the Pakistan Navy. Soon he was kidnapped, and his body was found two days later. The body had marks of torture all over, and it is largely suspected that the intelligence agencies of Pakistan are behind this brutal murder. Every week, we think there is no further proof required to show that Pakistan is in an abyss, a new development just reminds us that Pakistan is yet to stop digging further into that abyss. No dissenting voice is free in that country - the country is now beyond repair, your honour!


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