Mallika Writes: Just Speaking

November 7th

For whom was Nadeem Saiyyad more a hindrance – for the accused of Naroda Patiya and those behind the accused, or for the many crooks in many garbs whose lies and deceit and dishonesty he was exposing through the hundred RTIs he had filed? Or was the larger nexus the same – those in cohorts to subvert justice for personal gain and power? 

The result is the same in either case. Yesterday morning, as he went for his normal walk to pick up newspapers from around the corner, near his home in Juhapura, Nadeem was attacked by four men with swords and stabbed to death. Another casualty amongst truth seekers in Gujarat. And in all probability another one whose murder will go unpunished. Or worse, for whose murder innocents will serve decades in jail before being let off for want of evidence.

A few days ago Nadeem approached the police. There had been the case of the alleged planned cow slaughter in Juhapura and a bunch of young people had attacked the police. Some were picked up. It was Nadeem’s case that the police had picked the wrong people.

He has been fighting for justice for many years now. A while ago, travelling to an RTI meet with my colleagues he mentioned the immense pressure on the witnesses of the Naroda Patiya massacre. “It is very difficult to hold out to the constant threats to our families and the simultaneous bribes and promises of further goodies”, he said. Hw knew he would hold out but wasn’t sure some of the others could. They have young children, he said.

Three months ago I was coming out from a meeting of activists at Mehndi Nawaz Jung Hall when he stopped me. Introducing himself to me he said, “Ben my life is under constant threat. I am afraid they will get me before I can testify”.

He had been fighting the Ahmedabad municipality as well, for the deplorable lack of infrastructure in Juhapura. He filed a writ in the High Court and two months ago the High Court directed the corporation to give an immediate response as to what facilities existed there and when the rest could be put in.

Because of his consistently good work in filing RTIs that had a bearing on hundreds of citizens the Public Cause Foundation honoured him two years ago. But yesterday they got him.

He is not the first in this State who has been taken out because of the ripples that he caused. The list becomes long, the audacity and disdain of the killers become more blatant. And to a large extent the courts grind away at a snails pace emboldening others to continue the killing of the truth seekers.

The people of the State have become the proverbial Neros that the Supreme Court once called our CM – making merry while the State burns. Each murder is reduced to a news item and a statistic. And what does it have to do with us anyway? I am fine, I am safe, I am allowed to prosper without hindrance. How does it matter? Leave these things to others, they will sort themselves out. This kind of thing happens everywhere doesn’t it?

Nursery rhymes have morbid meanings unknown to the children and to most parents who teach the songs to them. Ring a ring a roses for instance was parodying the hundreds of people who died in the plagues; the pocket full of posies referred to the cloves people carried to protect themselves. The nursery rhyme that comes to mind in the current tragic scenario is:

There were ten in the bed and the little one said, roll over, roll over

They all rolled over and then there were nine;

There were nine in the bed and the little one said….. and so on till all the inconvenient ones have rolled over ( read been killed) and there are none left.

Is that what is hoped for by those who have much to hide and answer for?

November 7th, 2011, DNA


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