Incredible impotence

After eighty arduous days, innumerable visits by official and unofficial emissaries to the jungles, a slew of cassettes and photographs finding its way to civilization, several press conferences by helpless CMs, relentless mud-slinging by political parties, continuous hearings in the various courts not to speak of frequent expression of hope by the powers that be, or rather, powers-that-used-to-be and the fervent prayers of the near and dear of the actor, the hard reality of Rajkumar’s never ending captivity strikes one in the face.

Whatever one might say about the indiscretion of the actor in walking unguarded into Veerappan’s trap, one cannot ignore the truama that he and his family are undergoing, with the former trekking through hostile terrain and the latter running from pillar to post to secure his release.

Any normal person that obviously does not include jungle hardened journos or indoctrinated secessionists would shudder at the prospect of getting whisked away by whiskered bandits in the dead of night, held captive amidst a bunch of frightful characters and be subjected to immeasureble mental truama and physical strain.

Fatigue and frustration have ensured that even the customary acknowledgements about being taken care of well are missing in some of the latest cassette releases from the thickets and it is an indication that the actor himself is finding it difficult to keep putting on a brave front. One’s heart reaches out to Rajkumar. And this empathy at his plight has nothing to do with Rajkumar’s star status for the prayer should be on every citizen’s lip that such a fate should not befall anyone, be he a hero or a zero.

And it is precisely on this count that the authorities have tripped and Veerappan has scored. By netting a prized celebrity as a hostage V and his sponsors sought to gain attention and ignite passions and incidentally attain certain fringe benefits like the release of a few comrades and of course, some pocket money.

And the governments, like Rajkumar have walked straight into the trap by obliging the gangsters. Instead of standing upto the brigand’s terror tactics and saying ‘so what’, the two States crawled and surrendered to him even before he had uttered ‘hands up’. At a time when the State should have kept its head above the deluge of emotions which was running high, and demonstrated an impersonal coolness, it willingly opted to get carried away by the euphoria.

It is alright for the thespian’s family and admirers and even the people at large to deem any price as justified to secure his release, but can men in power allow themselves to be moved by such passions? Why should the fact of a celebrity hostage sway the government and have such a telling effect on its strategy, when it is its routine duty to protect every citizen from such catostrophe?

This is not to belittle the value of Rajkumar’s life and freedom, but to highlight the sanctity of law and the constitution that now runs the risk of getting raped by a bunch of rank scoundrels with the purported protectors themselves holding the light! By ignoring the basic lesson of never paying a blackmailer and instead by bending to the brigands’s whims, the two chief ministers have not only compromised the constitutional authority vested in them but also have endangered the very peace of the states for posterity.

And by admitting their abject impotence and instead shamlessly parading it as a justificication for obliging the brigand, the rulers have reduced the rule of law to a rubble. The argument that Rajkumar being a much adored object and therefore care needed to be exercised lest chaos takes over, does not simply wash.

By saying so the States are only seeking to insure themselves against future unrest instead of exhibiting the confidence that, come what may, the rule of law will stand tall. All their bravado are apparently only for the consumption of their political opponents who too are equally spineless. When faced with tough brigands, these men of straw just crumble.

Let alone brigands, even pickpockets, would cock a snook at authority, as represented by such politicos in power, for all it takes to bring law to its knees is the threat of public disturbance. And with the passage to power being littered with crime of every genre, it has become easier for politicos to understand a criminal’s psychology and his needs than strike a chord with people’s aspirations and apprehensions.

Little wonder that the two state governments are now face to face with a cul-de-sac. With the unrelenting SC laying them bare with questions that are on everyone’s lips, and the defence counsels absolutely defenceless at the judicial onslaught, the erosion of the authority vested in the democratically elected governments seems complete what with their miserable lawyers now arguing that there is no problem if a bunch of criminals are let loose amidst the unsuspecting populace.

And could there be a greater proof for a lawful government criminal ineffectiveness than the parade of emissaries in and out of the forests, which has now become a sort of ritual? As if the state sponsored antics of a footloose editor was not enough, the emissary team has been enlarged to include rank anti-nationals and die-hard separatists–all the devil’s alternatives.

Now these are the men who are going ‘negotiate’ the release of Rajkumar, of course, under the watchful eye of the original, chosen one — our rational CM’s pet messenger. We dread to think what the next cassette would portend!

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Jawahar T R