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DENTING OUR IMAGE

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BY HUGH & COLLEEN GANTZER

Our Ministry of External Affairs was absolutely correct in telling Germany and the US that they have no right to comment on our internal affairs.  Sadly, however, right and wrong do not govern international politics. Hitler had no right to invade Austria, but he went ahead and did so on the morning of 12th March 1938 and thereby triggered World War II. The US had no right to drop the Atom Bomb on Hiroshima on 6th August, 1945. But it went ahead and did so and thereby triggered the end of World War II.

When the two most influential economies of the world comment adversely on how our government has dealt with the youngest Chief Minister in India, the rest of the world sits up and begins to wonder what is going wrong.

To start with is it just to hold a citizen, particularly the youngest elected Chief Minister of a state in custody because you want to question him. The Inquisition was a European institution that started in the 13th century. It was used in imprisonment, threat and torture to force its victims to say what they demanded of them. The Spanish queen regent Maria Cristina de Bourbon permanently abolished the Inquisition in 1834. According to Amnesty International such torture cells continued to exist in dictatorships all around the world. In view of all this it would be interesting to see how any enforcement agencies in a duly democratic society can justify the use of “Custodial Interrogation”. If such interrogation is legal then it is time that it was made illegal.

There has been much trumpeting about the so-called money trail.  You cannot think of a more obvious money trail leading to the contractor who was given the task of digging the tunnel in our state. It cost a vast amount of money to extract those citizens alive.  We have not been told how much the entire operation cost. We do, however, know where the money came from. It was paid for by you, and us, and the other taxpayers of Uttarakhand and possibly Indian tax payers. So why has there not been any White Paper about this expenditure? Who is responsible for the crashing silence on this financial loss?

We contrast this silence with the hectic activity taken by new investigators by various government agencies into the affairs of political parties opposed to the current dispensation.  You cannot understand why any government which is proud of its achievements should expose itself to the charge that it seeks to overcome its political rivals by the exercise of brute force. Quite clearly some states do indulge in such activities which have become so common that they have been identified by such terms as “bulldozer raj” and “encounter specialists”. To demolish a structure without the due process of law is a criminal activity.  Similarly, to kill another human without trial is murder. Anyone who specialises in such activities is a murderer and to term him an honoured citizen of any society is to criminalise that society. If such action is given a veneer of legality, the rot begins to spread.

What has all this to do with the custodial interrogation of the Chief Minister of Delhi?

Everything. The moment you accept the falsehood that the end justifies the means, the cancer of criminality has already begun to erode your conscience.

Kejriwal’s detractors seem to forget that he could be the idol of many young aspirational Indians. This is because the youngest Chief Minister in India has also achieved the heights of success which millions of Indians are aspiring to reach. While most of the world is content with the goals of food, clothing and shelter, Indians have a fourth overarching goal: education. Kejriwal, as an IIT graduate is held in high esteem. He also has other qualities which attract the adulation of voters. He shuns ostentation, does not attempt to be a guru and is quite prepared to climb an electric pole and restore a damaged connection.

Finally, India’s image took extensive denting when Kejriwal’s plight was telecast to the world by the BBC on the global holiday of Easter Sunday.

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.) (The opinions and thoughts expressed here reflect only the authors’ views!).