Open season!

Feb is when winter ends and the oncoming onslaught of warm climes is heralded. This time around this shortest month seems to have packed in more than mere climatic changes.

Verdict season: Kasab and Co took a little less than twenty minutes to wipe out scores of kafirs on that fateful 26 Nov. But twenty seven months have elapsed since and Kasab is yet to join his partners awaiting him with a reserved seat in paradise. The Bombay HC might have this week confirmed the death sentence, but that is sans a full stop. The smiling assassin, who declared a ‘war against the Indian State’ and has been held as a ‘grave threat to society‘ can still appeal to the SC, albeit with the aid of an attorney appointed at the expense of the remaining kafirs of India and stay alive till then, again as a State guest of those lucky-to-be-alive kafirs. The law will take its own course with the repeat of the same dreary and downright absurd process of ‘establishing the guilt beyond all reasobable doubt’ of mass murderers who killed in full public view as also on prime time.

Many legal laymen like me cannot help wondering why a fast track court directly under the auspices of the SC could not be set up for a speedy trial. Of course, speedy trial and a speedy sentence does not automatically mean speedy justice for we have an Afzal Guru whose neck is yet to meet the noose despite the highest court ordaining it. There is another angle too. Death is the only possible punishment, no doubt. But death is precisely what these jihadis wanted too and therefore ceases to be punitive. And it is no deterrent either what with multitudes from the brotherhood queing up for a place up there in heaven. Indeed, the best option on hand is to go the whole hog and please them fully: quick death for those seeking instant martyrdom. On that, for once, there will be complete consensus between jihadis and kafirs! But alas, poor Kasab, it looks, will have to stretch that ghastly smile of his for Almighty knows how long!

In neighbouring Gujarat, the Godhra train carnage circa 2002 too reached a critical legal junction. A fast track trial court, which was stopped in its tracks for nearly five years thanks to the SC, came to a closure by convicting about one third of the ninety odd accused. The court has held that there was indeed a conspiracy to burn the S6 coach containing kar sevaks and this was followed up with the torching that killed … of them. Of the two thirds acquitted, two were key accused who have been let off for want of evidence. So, we have a serious conspiracy minus the prime ‘conspirators’. The police and SIT will have to start afresh at the next rung of the legal ladder, either by re-establishing the guilt of those let off or finding new conspirators, now that a conspiracy has indeed been ‘confirmed’!

Session season: Parli that remained in hybernation for virtually the whole of winter is now showing signs of stirring with the advent of summer, heralded by the budget heat. With the Government conceding a JPC on the 2G scam, as demanded by the opposition, the ‘stall’-’warts’ can be expected to call it quits, that is, until they find new ways of stalling, which is the only Parli norm or procedure that is being followed scrupulously! A privileged group within a privileged group, this omnibus JPC of 31 will have members from both Houses and almost all parties, most of whose leaders are facing corruption and sundry other charges themselves. But then, set a thief to catch a thief has been a universal leit motif from times immemorial. Only that thieves of the political kind have evolved to an extent that when you set a thief on a trail, he will most likely ‘settle’ with the quarry. Though not very Parliamentary, that seems to be the practice. Past JPCs on scams achieved nothing beyond being a playground for pitched political battles. Retribution is only for ordinary folk with their petty indiscrections, while big scamsters, (and Jihadis), being somehow exempt.

Scam season: By virtue of being round the clock and calendar, scams have somehow become a default setting in the nation. Every day dawns with a new one breaking out which becomes breaking news for a while and seamlessly melts into the next. All this despite MSingh’s desperate beseechings to the media to underplay scams so that the people’s confidence and nation’s reputation remain intact. MSingh should have known that the rest of the non-PM population of the country are not his clones to wink at such open loot. Of course, the PM and his prajas share a similarity: impotence in recovering the booty, the impotence of the people because it is not in their hands and the impotence of the PM because he has washed his hands off. Meanwhile, let us engage ourselves with the annual ritual of a scam that has everything official about it, namely, the Budget.

Poll season: Meeting, mating and then cheating. That somewhat sums up the dating flavour and fervour that invariably mark the run up to elections. The battle lines have been drawn and the forces have more or less arranged themselves on either side. Strange bedfellows, indeed, who would have no qualms about ditching partners once the voters have decided the numbers. So, post poll, a completely different arithmetic would ensue in case of a hung verdict which may bear no resemblance whatsoever to the present alliances. But then, that would not be cheating a mate but rather ‘realignment of political forces for the sake of a stable government’. Joint loot, we may add. Really, it would be fun to hear and recall the politico-speak of various hues during the campaign euphoria for those words will likely be eaten after elections. That blackmark on our index finger, the tell-tale sign of a sin forced on us by democracy, will actually last longer. (Their Poi vs our kaila mai) Whatever, but the season promises to be action-packed!

Other seasons: Cricket may be a national obsession, but it also has the strange habit of coinciding with the exam season. IPLs and World Cups in Feb and March are the ultimate test for parents and wards alike. Indeed, it is a cruel world.

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Jawahar T R