Thursday, April 9, 2009
No, I have nothing personal against Mr Jagdish Tytler. Neither I have anything personal against Mr. Sajjan Kumar. But honestly, I could not help warmly welcoming it when they were forced to withdraw from the Lok Sabha elections.
With due respect to Mr. Tytler, it would have really been a matter of disgrace for the Indian democracy if he got the opportunity to contest, and then could manage to become a Minister later. I am saying this not only because he was accused of a particular crime. Rather, I am trying to highlight the nature of the crime that he was accused of. It was not extortion. It was not a forgery. It was not a scam. It was rioting. It was carnage. It was a crime that was associated with the massacre (mainly spontaneous, but somewhat planned as well) of a huge number of innocent people. And no such person can be permitted to be a member of our national legislature who has been accused of being involved with such a heinous crime, even if he has been given a clean chit by the court.
Surely, Mr. Tytler has a very valid point to make. We cannot be sure about a person’s involvement with a crime or misdeed simply because he has been accused. There are lots of instances when a person is wrongly (or even falsely) accused of being involved with an unlawful act. Therefore, we cannot be absolutely sure that Mr. Tytler was involved with the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 simply because he was accused to be.
Fair enough. But then, as per the same logic, we cannot be sure about a person’s innocence simply because he has been acquitted by the court of law. While a person can get wrongly accused because of some circumstantial factors, similarly a person can get wrongly acquitted because of some factors like absence of witness, absence of strong evidence, etc.
While we cannot confidently say that Mr. Tytler’s acquittal was wrong, can we be confident that it was a correct decision? It is significant that the court has acquitted Mr. Tyler of the charges not because it has got some strong evidence in favour of his innocence, but because it has not found any strong evidence against him. And yes, that does make a difference!
There is another aspect of the story. We all know that our Sikh brothers and sisters have not yet been able to overcome the trauma of 1984, for pretty understandable reasons. Even the Sikh youths born after 1984 are aware of the carnage (they have heard about it from their elders), and are as sensitive about it as are the ones who experienced it personally. The gravity of the community’s pain and agony can be understood by what Mr. Jarnail Singh did other day. It must be remembered that Jarnail is not a hot-blooded teenager. He is a 30 plus educated professional, an experienced journalist for that matter, and a family man. If a person from such a background does something like this, we can pretty well understand what a terrible pain this community is suffering from.
Now, while their entire pain cannot be cured overnight, some steps can surely be taken to bring at least some partial healing. Something that will help them have this consolation that “OK, we have got some justice, at least a little one”.
And this forced withdrawal of Mr. Tytler from the Lok Sabha election will certainly provide such a partial healing to the Sikh community (of course, it is much less than satisfactory). After the level of anguish the community has gone through for such a long time, even such a partial healing is highly precious. And even if we accept that Mr. Tytler is innocent, his candidature cannot be more precious than the faint healing touch that his withdrawal will offer to our Sikh friends. It would have been a terrible emotional blow for the community if Mr. Tytler were permitted to contest the election. And that could have snowballed into some larger problems. Let us not forget that nothing can be more dangerous for a country than a long-suppressed feeling of anger and frustration in a community.
Mr. Tytler, you are an educated and decent man. And you certainly give more value to the emotional feelings of a community than your own political career, right? Then you should be happy that you are not contesting this time. While you are a nice person (at least apparently), you are not known to be a great administrator or leader. So India will not lose anything if you do not become an MP and do not become a Minister. But a community will get some partial satisfaction that you are not contesting this time. And that is really valuable. So, be happy! Whatever has happened, it has happened for good.
Photo Courtesy - news.outlookindia.com