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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blowing Hot and Cold on Mafia

This piece was written after I heard the news of  the suicide of an esteemed junior colleague, Rahul Sharma.  Rahul Sharma was, by all accounts, an intrepid fighter against entrenched criminal elements.  I had come across the story of his persecution in a news item "Officers Mess in which I had  also figured.  The community did not reach out to him while there was still time.  Another young IPS officer, Narendra Kumar, who visited me in my office briefly when he had come for training to Bihar was brutally done away with at around the same time.  Media accounts suggest that he has also left behind a legacy of selfless struggle against politically connected mafia in the briefest tenure.  

In the meanwhile I was approached by a newspaper to write a piece for them on the mafia and their links etc. So I sent it across to them. But I find that the  paragraph, "These deeds 'reveal' the perpetrators to us, and us to our own selves..." missing; a section which  brings home to me, personally, the tragic futility, even the absurdity, of the fight for these "mini-states" and the ambivalent stand of the community on this issue. So, I am putting the original piece on my blog.  

I also wanted to know whether the fiendish asymmetry is brought home to me only because I am a police officer, or are there others also who share my views.
We simply cannot wish away our mafia.  There are so many of them, active in areas which affect each one of us deeply.  The resource mafia, illegally exploiting coal, timber and other forest produce, wildlife or sand, depredates our environment.  Or the development mafia bagging contracts for roads, bridges, railway lines and other projects takes away from us the fruits of planned growth.  Or the land mafia, or the education mafia or the health mafia, the electricity mafia, or the co-operative mafia.  One could go on and on.  And we live with them all the year round, relegating their activities to the basement of our brains. As a token of our appreciation, we sometimes elect the Mafiosi to the various legislative bodies, sometimes several times in succession.  

One wonders whether we could do without them. 
A legion of decentralized dictatorships, these neighborhood mafias mediate a host of functions of the state.  We do not find anything unnatural about it.  Because we have come to accept the political culture where a politician is expected to provide avenues for his "caste men" and cronies for looting the resources of the state.  At the ground zero of politics, there is a consensus that this is an absolutely democratic method of rewarding political support.  We do not seem to protest.
They are not the anti-heroic outlaws hounded by police, marked by the enemy’s bullet, as popularized by movies.  The one sure-fire formula of political patronage earns our Mafia the homage of the law enforcement officials.  Their control of the institutional environment allows them to enjoy the fruits of their crime and die in bed of old age.  But some day things do slip and go out of hand.
Regrettable though it may be, sometimes it becomes necessary to remove a Yashwant Sonawane by the simple expedient of pouring some kerosene on him and igniting him.  Or to bludgeon the nosey activist Sister Valsa John for agitating against the peacefully profit making enterprise of illegal coal mining in Jharkhand.  Swami Nigmanand was similarly removed from the scene by a combination of intrigue and heartlessness. Shehla Masood, the RTI activist; Arup Kalita, the Assam environment activist; Satyendra Dubey, the engineer in the Golden Quadriateral project; Manju Nath, the Indian Oil officer; Ajay Kumar Singh, SP of Lohardagga; the divisional forest officer Sanjay Singh of Kaimur; the journalist  Dey, to name a few allegedly lost their lives because they refused to peacefully co-exist. 

Then the dirt comes to the surface.
These deeds “reveal” the perpetrators to us, and us to our own selves, compelling us to stage a mass ceremony of innocence, make a communitarian plea of alibi.  That is why we are revolted by the bomb-and-gun variety, because his deeds disturb the even tenor of life.  If the outrage were in support of the cause championed by the martyred enforcement official, the community would regularly rally behind those many harassed and victimized officers and activists who are trying to rein in these self-same elements.  Towards them, while they are alive, their attitude is of the audience watching a daring stunt. Will they, or will they not carry it off?  Before they fall victim to the assassin’s bullet, they may have knocked at the door of their superiors, may have sought for the amplification of their voices in the media. But all in vain.  Their deaths are like the deaths foretold.
Why are we reaping such a bountiful harvest of mafias?  The answer must lead us to the nature of our politics, which has now completely rid itself of its ideological baggage.  Even the rhetorical tenors of its emancipatory pronouncements barely hide its annoyance at being forced to pay lip service to all those high ideals.  In the absence of passion in the field of politics, the pursuit of political power is less about mobilization and more about managerial enterprise.  Governance is about providing the middle class the security to visit malls and cinemas, and the poor some doles – endlessly.  The rest is easy.  A deft coordination of interests, a hard bargaining skill for the spoils and a keen eye for keeping things at sub-crisis level is all that it is about.  In an environment where the political tenure is short and uncertain, brutish and nasty Mafia is the obvious mode of entrepreneurship.  

After all has it not been said that Mafia is illegal capitalism, capitalism legal Mafia.


Arvind Kumar said...

Jo kamre mein galat hukum likhete hain/ye pap unhi ka hamko mar gaya hai....Dinkar

Madhav Mishra said...

the problem with is corrpuption is alright as long as our families are not affected. its only when someone close faces the heat, we cry 'WOLF'. lets just hope things will change for good.

Er. AMOD KUMAR said...

Respected Sir,
You have written the real truth of the ground . In my view moreover all mafias are protected by corrupt politicians and govt. officers. . This is well known that “A parallel economy has also developed with a significant fraction of the local population employed by the mafia in manually transporting the stolen coal for long distances over unpaved roads to illegal mafia warehouses and points of sale in Dhanbad” .
Bihar government was irrevocably committed to protect the hills and illegal mining would not be tolerated, but nothing is getting implemented. Mafias are doing organized crime with the help of Corrupt Politicians and corrupt officers. And day by day the graph is increasing.
Government must think over your last paragraph “After all has it not been said that Mafia is illegal capitalism, capitalism legal Mafia.”
With kind regards

Uttam Jha said...

Hello Sir,
Well said about entrenched corruption across all states of our country. We all tend to remain a mute spectator unless a horrible things happen to us or dear one. It seems that the lives of these brave and honest police officer goes futile. I am fully confident that many of us will mock them for giving their lives. Sometime thinking present scenario disturb me a lot.
Sir, you are one of the top echelons of police.How much it pains you, when you are deprived of rightful claim or position.
I am eager to know your view about legitimate right.
what you feel when Sometime you are gone against the wind(acting on corrupt babus) and all your toil goes in vain due babus lobby and politicians.

ajoyipsbhr85 said...

when we deliberately shut our eyes to our own contribution in the existing system, then the blame game starts..!
but what prevents us from putting a few questions to ourselves..
(a) are the Mafiosi Indians ?
(b) why do they not hesitate in plundering the country for their own personal gain ?
(c) have we as alert citizen of this country ever asked CBSE, ICSE, State Education Boards to incorporate in the Curriculum some inputs on Patriotic Duties of a Citizen ?

if we start educating our impressionable children that (i) we are being unpatriotic when we give or accept bribe, (ii) we are being un-patriotic when we give false reports [in our official capacity], (iii) we are being un-patriotic when we fail to discharge our duty upon receipt of a complaint, (iv) we are being unpatriotic when we detect a problem in the system, and allow it to continue [in the fond hope that some day some Pakistani will come and remove that defect from our Indian System].. and so on.., we can actually have a generation in 25 years that will be Patriotically educated [and not illiterate like us]..
it is a System of our own creation and we must accept that we have given to our children a more difficult India to live and survive in, than what we received from our previous generation.
as public servants we have misused the existing Un-Empowerment of the Indian Citizen, and converted it to our enjoyment... we have not respected the Indian Citizen ever... we do not even have waiting room or a few chairs for the citizen in our offices.. and the poor citizen is forced to keep standing before us...
we as police officers have refused to discuss our investigation with the un-empowered complainant, we have never hesitated in turning down the requests of the un-empowered citizen complainant...
we use dual standards and wish that we should be at the receiving end of the better standard, which we reserve for the empowered...
it is a humble submission that the Citizen of India should give to him/her self the following Fundamental Rights, for which Incorporation in the Constitution of India, everyone should send a request to HE the President of India-
(1) Right to Respect from Public Servants
(2) Right to Protection against Harassment from the public servants
(3) Right to Justice within Reasonable period of Time
(4) Right to Response from the Public Servants within a reasonable period of time
(5) Right against Corruption and to Fight against Corruption
(6) Right to Speak and Express the Truth
(7) Right to Make a Demand for Collection of Public Opinion on matters of Common Interest
(8) Right to Directly Elect the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of the State/UT
only an Empowered Citizen can prevent the public servant from going astray, because as public servants we have demonstrated that we don't have self discipline.. and commitment towards our nation
while being judgemental, we must also introspect