Posts Tagged ‘Lankesh Patrike’

When Fernandes tried to blow up Vidhana Soudha

4 January 2013

Like him or loathe him, there is no ignoring U.R. Anantha Murthy. As an academic, as a writer and as a public intellectual, URA has towered over the political, social and linguistic landscape for more than half a century.

In post-liberalised India and in post-IT Karnataka, Meshtru (as URA is known to friends, foes, friends turned foes and foes turned friends) has tilted bravely and unceasingly at the windmills, taking up unfashionable causes that Mammon had stubbed out.

Now, the indefatigable Anantha Murthy is penning his memoirs, throwing fresh light on a long and colourful life among letters. Excerpts:

***

By U.R. ANANTHA MURTHY

We accept many beliefs without questioning them, and start propagating them. It is possible here to be a revolutionary and a part of the establishment at the same time.

When the Congress declared an Emergency, the CPI helped them along. One could simultaneously be a communist and a supporter of the ruling Congress.

Most Indian intellectuals are like that.

In those days (the 1970s), if you asked those talking revolution whether they would like to visit the US or the USSR, they would choose the first. That’s because there was no warm water in the Soviet Union. No room heaters either.

India’s biggest problem is hypocrisy. It has taken root deeper than we imagine.

When the Janata Party came to power in Karnataka in 1983, many of us found it possible to balance out our lofty principles with our proximity to authority. It is difficult to proclaim that our actions were free of selfish motives.

A good number who came looking for me, in the knowledge that I was close to Ramakrishna Hegde and J.H. Patel, no longer remain my friends. Thanks to my obliging nature, I became a vehicle for their vested interests.

I didn’t touch any money, but I am troubled that I watched corrupt acts without saying a word. A mind that hesitates to say what must be said becomes corrupt. The Janata alliance that took on Indira Gandhi was the creation of an affluent class.

***

Meeting George Fernandes

Before the Emergency was imposed, I had written a review of the novel Gati Sthiti (Progress and Reality) by Giri.

I received a huge envelope by post some days after the publication of my review. It contained another review of the book, and criticised some of my observations. I couldn’t figure out who had written it. The letter was in Kannada and English.

“Come and meet me in Bangalore at once,” it said.

I guessed it was from George Fernandes.

He had tried to organise a massive railway strike before the Emergency, and failed. The police were looking for him, but he had slipped away. All the other big leaders of the time were already in jail.

Shivarama Karanth told me: “Only those who have participated in the 1942 movement might know what to do in these difficult times. George is a follower of Jayaprakash Narayan, isn’t he? He must be active in the underground movement.”

It occurred to me that I should contact my friend Pattabhirama Reddy and Snehalata in Bangalore. They were inspired by the socialist leader Rammanohar Lohia, and had turned my novel Samksara into a film.

When I met him, Pattabhi took the envelope from me, winked, and said, “I will take you to George secretly”.

The two of us got into a car one evening. “Good not to know where you are going. Blindfold yourself. Even if the police torture you, you shouldn’t be able to tell them where you met George,” he said.

We drove for 45 minutes, and reached a decrepit church.

We walked into a dark room.

George was sitting on a cot. He was unrecognisable. He had grown his hair and beard long. I went up to him and touched him. He embraced me. George’s younger brother Lawrence came in. He looked older than George. He had a lunch box in his hand.

As we sat talking about his family and mine, worms kept dropping on us from the roof of the church. George was pulling out the palmer worms and scratching himself all through our conversation. He gave me a mission with these points:

Snehalata had to go to a rarely used lavatory in Vidhana Soudha. Making sure no one was around, she had to explode a bomb at night. I had to provide some young men to help her. The explosion had to bring down a portion of the Vidhana Soudha, but not kill anyone.

Our objective was to hassle the government, and not to inflict violence on anyone. The government was convinced it could get away with anything, and people wouldn’t protest. If such subversive incidents took place every now and then, the frightened citizens would feel reassured something was afoot to dislodge the government. It was our duty to protect the people’s will to resist. We had to find a bridge there, and a government building here, and bring them down with dynamite.

If none of this was possible, my friends and I had to undermine the government in the manner of those who had resisted Nazism in Hitler’s Germany. We had to drop burning cigarette stubs into post boxes. That would force the government, as it had in Germany, to post a constable at every post box.

We returned after this conversation. I blindfolded myself even on the way back.

A constable always stood guard at the toilet, making it impossible to place a bomb at the Vidhana Soudha. I returned to Mysore, and with friends like Devanoor Mahadeva, tried to drop cigarette stubs into the post boxes. The stubs burnt themselves out without causing any damage.

George showed the same courage as Subhas Chandra Bose, and is a big hero of our times. We believed he was fit to become prime minister. But what happened to him later is unpalatable.

He never became corrupt for money, but he went to Gujarat after the violence, and came away as if nothing had happened. I could never understand this. Perhaps the desire to remain in power had corrupted his revolutionary mind.

The central minister who refused police escort has now lost his memory, and lies in bed.

***

Esther and home tuitions

My wife was a little girl with two plaits when I saw her as a student in Hassan. She came over to my house for tuitions. When she sang a film song at some event, it brought tears to my eyes. She sings well even today.

I had given her class an assignment: ‘Describe someone you like or dislike.’ She had written about me, and made fun of my style of teaching and gestures. The girl with plaits who could write this way about her lecturer had ignited my curiosity and interest.

The first door of my romantic world opened when I realised she could speak about me with such abandon. I didn’t want a girl who’d adore me; I wanted a companion. I fell in love with the girl who came to me on the pretext of taking tuitions. She was then just 16 or 17. I developed no physical intimacy with her. She was at an age when she didn’t know enough about the world’s ways, or about rights and wrongs. She interacted with me in all innocence. When she invited me over to her house, I felt I was entering another world.

Esther was one among many students who came for tuitions. While the others paid me a fee, Esther gave me her guileless love.

In those days, I liked keeping fish. A student had brought me some fish, which I had placed in a glass bowl. I was often lost in watching their movements. This would make Esther livid. “What are you doing there? Can’t you come here and do some lessons?” she would snap. She was outspoken even in those days.

My sister wasn’t married yet. I knew it would be difficult to find her a bride if I married out of caste. I had to wait a long time even after I had decided to marry Esther.

I went to Mysore after teaching for some years in Hassan. My mother was with me then. When she came to know about my relationship with Esther, she was disturbed. She would suddenly lose consciousness and slump to the ground. She would also complain about some pain.

When we took her to a doctor, he diagnosed it as a mental illness. She was tormented during this period. As a little boy, when she went to the hills for her ablutions in the morning, I would scream, “Amma, are you dead or what?” and keep crying till she called back.

Her agony on my account was something I could not take. I was distressed.

***

Death of my mother

My mother died in September 1995. A month before her death, I had taken a break from my work, and shifted to my brother’s house in Shimoga, where she was bed-ridden. Initially, she was conscious, but towards the end, she lay unconscious most of the time.

I used to sit by her side, talking, while she was still conscious. Anil was her favourite son. Being a doctor, he had fitted her with pipes and tubes, and struggled round the clock to keep her alive.

One day, I told him, “Let’s not keep her alive this way. Take away those things.”

I had gathered the courage to tell him that, and Anil needed the confidence. He did as suggested. I sat by my mother, held her hand, uttered a prayer, and said, “Everything is all right. You may go.”

Since she knew about Esther, I guessed she was apprehensive I wouldn’t conduct her last rites, and said, “I will take the initiative and perform all your rites.”

She left us a couple of days later. I couldn’t sit on the floor, so I broke convention and sat on a stool. I performed her rites with my brothers, trying all the while to understand the mantras.

My mother treated everyone with affection, but had never given up her ritual sense of purity. She was not a modern shy about her Brahmin caste, or rather, her sub-caste.

When she heard the Pejawar swamiji had visited a Dalit colony, she was bewildered. I congratulated him as I felt he was capable of influencing my mother.

Oblivious of the depth of such beliefs, my fellow-writers ridiculed me. Such intellectuals have no desire to change the thinking of people like my mother. My mother wouldn’t give up her caste, but believed taking vows and praying to Muslim holy men would cure children of certain ailments.

***

The house that started a row

I didn’t have a house of my own. I applied for one in Mysore. Poet Krishna Alanahalli took me to someone he knew and said, “Give our teacher a site.”

He did. The site was like a lane. “I don’t want it,” I said.

Krishna took me back to the official and said, “Not this one, give him another.” I got another site. Krishna liked me a lot, and said I should keep the first one, too. Afraid I would give in to temptation, I wrote a letter returning the earlier site. Krishna laughed at my foolishness.

By then, I had decided to move from Mysore to Bangalore. Award-winners are entitled to sites, and I got one during chief minister Veerappa Moily‘s time. It was a good plot, opposite a park.

Since we were about to come away from Mysore, I thought it would be better if we could get a house instead. When I mentioned this to my friend J.H. Patel, then chief minister, he said he would allot me a house in a colony originally meant for NRIs who could pay in dollars. I live in this house now.

Once the house was sanctioned, I returned my site.

Several people, under P. Lankesh‘s leadership, pounced on me, ignoring the fact that I had returned the site. A story first appeared in Lankesh Patrike. My utterly emotional and dear friend G.K. Govinda Rao demonstrated against me.

I wrote to Patel, requesting him to take back the house and give me the site again.

He tore up my letter and said, “Everything is legal, whatever people might say. If you don’t want this house, there’s another in my name. Shall I get it registered in your name?” I declined. Many articles appeared in the papers.

After some time, my detractors began to see the truth. Lankesh called up my house one day and asked Esther, “May I visit you?” She said, “Ask him,” and handed me the phone. I called him over. He arrived with a friend.

Esther went out of the house the moment he stepped in. I got some tea made for him. “Saw the new house?” I said. He replied, without any embarrassment, “Never mind, Ananthamurthy. All that’s over now.” He didn’t say another word about it.

We try to show our integrity through our prejudices. I don’t like this practice, among Kannada writers, of flaunting their integrity. We must hide our integrity, like we hide our love.

My friend B.S. Achar was struck by cancer. Lankesh wrote about it in his paper and announced he was giving him some money. Achar was disgusted. He returned the money. It didn’t occur to Lankesh, whose aim was publicity, to reflect if it was all right to write in his paper about his own acts of charity.

***

The modernist debate

Our discussions at Coffee House with Gopalakrishna Adiga inspired many of my writings. We lived in a world of our own, amidst the shared coffee and cigarettes. We were busy ushering in modernism in literature when a juke box, which we thought of as a symbol of modernism, arrived at Coffee House.

Attracted by its loud music, young people thronged the cafe. Modernity had snatched away the comfortable cane chairs that encouraged discussions about modernism.

We went to the parks, looking for space under the trees. Without coffee, our discussions lost their charm. We didn’t have money for beer at the pubs. And in any case, Adiga wouldn’t drink even though he was a modernist!

Translated by S.R. Ramakrishna

Excerpted from Suragi, U.R. Ananthamurthy’s autobiography, due for release soon

***

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: The U.R. Anantha Murthy interview

The mahaan elastic buddhijeevi of the year?

CHURUMURI POLL: Smooth, smart, stupid?

URA: A people’s manifesto for the 2008 elections

Is Anantha Murthy‘s Samskara a little too sexy?

URA: ‘India is the loser if Hindus become communal’

The peripatetic life and times of Jayant Kaikini

17 August 2011

The poet, writer, lyricist and biochemist Jayant Kaikini on growing up in Gokarna, studying in Dharwad, living in 18 different addresses while earning his daily bread in Bombay, returning to Bangalore for journalism, television and films—and how Vicks vaporub fetched him his life partner, Smita, somewhere along the way.

Also read: Anusithide yaako, means are as vital as the end’

Jayant Kaikini: The wrath of the sambaar-lover

How Ananth Kumar danced to Niira Radia’s tunes

12 May 2011

A 2003 Lankesh Patrike picture showing then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee calling on Pejawar Swami (seated), with Niira Radia in tow

Every good scandal deserves to be immortalised between covers, and Niira Radia, the star of the 2G spectrum allocation scam, gets her due through a new book, “Close encounters with Niira Radia“, by the controversial lawyer and former parliamentarian, R.K. Anand.

Anand, who was stung by NDTV in the BMW hit-and-run case while trying to influence witnesses, gets his revenge through Radia, who coincidentally counted NDTV Imagine among her clients.

Edited by former India Today executive editor Inderjit Badhwar and published by Har-Anand publications, Close encounters with Niira Radia promises to be a “dramatic tell-all account by India’s top criminal lawyer of the character and con games of the corporate lobbyist whose activities have shaken India’s power class”.

In reality, it is little but a collation of reports and analyses on a “sprightly, bubbly and vivacious woman who at the age of 35 burst on to India’s political and business centre stage in the form of a whirling diva and whose every fervid gyration spun a web of cunning, duplicity and intrigue, ensnaring a veritable who’s who of those who run this nation’s business, political and journalistic empires.”

But the book does have its moments, and one of them is Niira Radia’s alleged proximity to the Karnataka BJP leader and former Union civil aviation minister, Ananth Kumar, which reportedly had his wife Tejaswini Ananth Kumar running to the doorstep of prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

***

By R.K. ANAND

“During 1996-97, I used to get medicines for my wife from the United States and Niira Radia was always a great help making arrangement for the safe transport of these life-enhancing drugs through her client, KLM. Niira had become a sister to me and I began treating her as one.

“The links between us grew stronger when she shifted her residence to a farm house near mine. As a neighbour, her visits became even more frequent.

“We chatted on just about every subject. But underlining all our bonversations was Niira’s emphasis on becoming the most successful businesswoman in India. She was driven by this motivation.

“It became obvious to me that she was going in for a big kill. What exactly that would be, I could not fathom. But it would be big or nothing at all. At that time I had no idea that she would spread her wings into the political arena to satisfy her craving for business and power.

“So it came as a shock to me when I discovered, one day, when visiting her farmhouse, dancing closely with NDA minister Ananth Kumar to western ballroom music….

***

“Niira always thought big. She was not satisfied with piddling assignments. Her ultimate ambition was to start her own airline. To achieve this target she needed the help of the new aviation minister, Ananth Kumar, who was a member of Parliament from Karnataka.

“No longer a stranger to the ways of Delhi and the art of cosying up to the high and mighty through a liberal use of contacts, name dropping, and invitations and parties, Niira had wasted no time in getting on the inside track with Ananth Kumar from his early days as minister.

“The BJP’s return to power in 1999 as well as Ananth Kumar’s regaining his former portfolio allowed her to continue to fly loftily in the aviation skies.

“She also had an added advantage. She knew more about the aviation industry than half of Ananth Kumar’s own top bureaucrats. Ananth Kumar, himself a neophyte, a rookie minister in the NDA government, found in Niira a good teacher about the intricacies, pitfalls and vicissitudes of the powerful aviation sector.

“Needless to say, he was also smitten by the femme fatale who was now so sure of her magic with men.

“She did not hide her closeness to him. Friends often saw them together at Sudesh Farm, Asola, in Delhi, where Niira was still living with Rao Dheeraj Singh – a former Sahara executive.

***

“Niira had her sights set. At whatever the cost, she wanted to sell helicopters to the governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka, Ananth Kumar’s home-state. With his help, she managed to clinch the deal for the two state governments.

“The hefty commissions she received went into Niira’s London and Channel Island accounts, recalls her partner Singh.

“The next window of opportunity for Niira as she continued to pursue her dream of conquering the skies by becoming an airline magnate was the air show in Bangalore….

“Niira like a female version of Icarus, had already begun spreading her wings. She was determined to influence the Indian government to buy aircraft from Airbus. She knew from her deep knowledge of governmental decision-making in this area that a new acquisition policy for fleet enhancement and acquisition for Indian Airlines and Air India was in the offing.

“From Ananth Kumar she learned that the process would be fast-tracked for both the flagship domestic and international carriers…. So persistent was her interference in the affairs of Indian Airlines, that the manging director P.C. Sen objected to her meddling. Niira’s benefactor, Ananth Kuamr, responded by removing Sen from that post.

“During the time that the aircraft acquisition policy was being changed Niira was a frequent visitor to Ananth Kumar’s official rsidence at 10, Prithviraj Road. According to intelligence reports, Niira and Ananth Kumar frequently travelled abroad.

“Ananth Kumar was actually a country bumpkin—a hayseed as the Americans put it—who learnt sophistication and speech and social graces from Niira. If the roles in Pygmalion had been reversed Ananth Kumar would have been Eliza Doolittle and Niira Henry Higgins.

“The upshot of this courtship was that as aviation minister Ananth Kumar changed the acquisition policy to favour Airbus on the specious ground that Indian Airlines and Air India no longer needed large capacity long-range airplanes but rather only short capacity long-range ones—which the Boeing company was not manufacturing.

“The deal roughtly worth Rs 22,000 crore at a 10 per cent commission would work out to a windfall of Rs 220 crore for Niira.

***

“But the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. The BJP government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee fell short of acquiring a confidence vote in Parliament and came tumbling down. New elections were called.

“Niira and her accomplices worked round the clock to ensure BJP’s return to power—especially return of Kumar to this portfolio as aviation minister. There was too much work to be done, pending contracts to be signed.

“Apart from the Airbus deal, one other pending project during this corresponding period was the construction of an up-to-date flying school. Singh was in charge of this project. The deal had been finalised between Radia and Ananth Kumar.

“Ananth Kumar’s role as minister was to ensure that the Airport Authority would provide the entire Mysore airfield at a nominal lease amount and obtain the mandatory clearance from the government of Karnataka… Ananth Kumar deputed no less a person than his own private secretary, Krishna Kumar, to help break the ice with local officialdom.

“Meanwhile, elections were in full swing and, according to Rao Dheeraj Singh, sacks of money were delivered in Bombay, Bangalore and Delhi by Niira to finance the re-election and comeback of Ananth Kumar to his former portfolio.

“The money was collected mostly by Ananth Kumar’s confidant and officer on special duty, one Diwakar.

***

“Kumar made a comeback to his portfolio when the BJP returned to power after the election in a coalition called the NDA. But his tenure was short-lived and he could not deliver on the deals he had made with Niira.

“The problem was that his association with Niira had taken the colour of a scandal, and Ananth Kumar’s wife Tejaswini made a personal complaint to prime minister Vajpayee. The PM promptly re-assigned Ananth Kumar to the culture and youth affairs and sports ministry.”

(Excerpted from Close encounters with Niira Radia, by R.K. Anand, editor Inderjit Badhwar, Har-Anand publications, pp 326, Rs 595)

***

Photograph: courtesy Gauri Lankesh

An open letter to Chetan of Chikkabasavanahalli

6 May 2010

Chetan, with his mother Nethravathi Devi, at the funeral of slain CRPF jawan Shivappa, who was killed in a Naxal ambush in Dantewada last month

My dear Chetan

You are barely nine years of age and you have lost your beloved father. Your mother, Netravathi Devi, who is in her prime, has also lost the anchor of her life.

Your father, Shivappa, has been killed thousands of kilometres away by the bullets of those who are fighting for the cause of the adivasis in the dense forests of Dantewada.

Dantewada: a place you had never heard of; a place you cannot spot.

Not less than 40 men from your little village of Chikkabasavanahalli are serving in the Indian army and police forces across the country. After hearing the news of your father’s death, perhaps the families of all those soldiers are worried too of what lies in store.

Chetan, your father Shivappa was a true patriot who wanted to serve his country. He loved his country just as much as he loved you, your mother, your uncles and aunts.

I have heard that whenever he came home on breaks from duty he would enquire about the wellbeing of everyone and had thus earned the love and affection of your village.

Chetan, there are many honest people like your father who was the son of a poor farmer. They strive hard to earn a living. They accept difficult postings in various parts of the country so that they can fend for their families.

You are still too young to understand the world of the grown-ups.

What is the CRPF?

Who are the Maoists?

Who is P.Chidambaram who has mourned your father’s death?

Where is Chattisgarh?

Who are these adivasis?

Why can’t they just cast their votes every once in five years instead of rebelling?

Why did your father and others like him go to Kashmir, Kargil, Chattisgarh and other such places instead of staying in their hometowns like Chikkabasavanahalli?

***

Chetan, you are still a fourth standard student. You probably don’t know anything about the Vedanta company. Your school text books will certainly not contain such information.

Not just you, even the other poor farmers of your Chikkabasavanahalli will certainly not have heard of the Vedanta company.

I am mentioning this because somewhere in the matrix of your father’s death is the Vedanta company.

When you enter high school, your social studies text books will tell you which parts of India contain rich mineral resources. Those books will definitely tell you where in India you will find gold, bauxite, iron ore, aluminum and copper deposits.

You will come to know that in states like Orissa and Chattisgarh there are millions of  tonnes of such precious minerals.

Vedanta is a mining company headquartered in London. Two extremely rich brothers called Anil Aggarwal and Naveen Aggarwal are the owners of this company.

They are also the owners of almost half of the aluminum deposits in this country.

Besides the 75 million tonnes of bauxite mine at Lanjigarh they also own a five lakh tonne iron ore plant at Jarasugarh. In the Dantewada and Bijapur districts of Chattisgarh there are iron and bauxite deposits worth several crores of rupees.

The Aggarwal brothers wanted to lay their hands on all these precious minerals. Our government very kindly said to them “Please help yourselves.”

Unfortunately, a problem arose.

The forests of Chattisgarh which contain these mineral deposits are also home to lakhs of adivasi tribals who are variously called Koli, Munda, etc. Though 63 years have lapsed since our country won its freedom, till this date  no government has provided the adivasis with even basic amenities like education, roads, ration cards, etc.

The condition in those areas is so miserable that hardly any of the people there live beyond the age of 40 years. In this short lifespan they have to survive on the little that the forests provide them.

Without driving the hapless adivasis out of the forests, Vedanta company could not start mining for the precious deposits.

In the beginning, the advasis refused to move out. Then the government made some devious plans to force them out. The adivasis protested. Government sent in the police. The adivasis left their villages and ran into the forests.

The government created a semi army called Salwa Judum, which burnt down villages, beat up children and men and raped women. When harassment by the government continued, the adivasis had no option left but to rally behind the Naxalites and take up an armed struggle.

Naturally, the government could not tolerate this audacity and wanted to finish off the adivasis. That is why it started sending thousands of CRPF policemen like your father to wage a war against those adivasis who are, incidentally, as much Indian as your father was.

***

Now, Chetan, I would like to tell you a few things about Chidambaram who is the leader of this war. He is the Home minister of our beloved country.

It is his job to maintain peace and order in this country. Five to six lakh policemen like your father Shivappa work under him.

Though Chidambaram is always dressed in a white shirt and white panche, he was for some time also a lawyer.

In 2003 when one company called Sterlite cheated the government crores of rupees in taxes and got caught, the person who took up their legal case was this same Chidambaram.

This Sterlite company is also owned by the Vedanta group.

For a while, Chidambaram was also a member on the board of directors of Vedanta company.

This is the man who is now our Home minister.

This is the same man who sent people like your father to finish off the adivasis so that Vedanta can start mining in those forests.

Chetan, just think, for whose cause did your father die?

***

Chetan, you must also think about the situation the poor farmers of your Chikkabasavanahalli are in today.

About ten years ago, lands belonging to the poor farmers of Chikkabasavanahalli and other villages on the outskirts of Hassan were taken away by the government in the name of industrialisation and development.

Hadn’t the government then promised jobs in the factories which would come up the land which had earlier belonged to farmers?

Despite this, how come more than 40 men of your village have joined the police and the army? Why did they not get jobs in Hassan? Where are the farmers today who lost their lands ten years ago? Did they even get proper compensation for their lands?

Chetan, no one has the answers to these questions.

While this is the situation in an area like Hassan which is represented by big political leaders in Parliament and has even contributed a prime minister called H.D. Deve Gowda, imagine what must be the situation in a place like Chattisgarh where the adivasis do not even have basic amenities, no education, and no awareness of their fundamental rights?

Imagine another situation.

In case the government comes once again to take over the remaining two acres of dry land from your family so that it can hand it over to some Tata or some Vedanta, what will the people of your village do?

Will they not protest?

In case the people’s protest cannot be controlled by the local police then the government will definitely send a Naga battalion or some other CRPF battalion to crush your people.

And when the war between the people and the state escalates, people on both sides will be killed. At which point the government will do nothing but merely place orders for more coffins.

Before I forget, I must mention that the former lawyer of the Vedanta company and now the honourable Home minister of this country Chidambaram has recently threatened:

“I don’t care how many men I lose, I will win this war.”

Unfortunately, no one is discussing about the injustice of all this. The government is not talking about the wrongs it is committing. In the meanwhile, Chetan, hundreds of innocent patriots like your father are needlessly sacrificing their lives.

They brought your father’s remains in a coffin, didn’t they?

Let me tell you a story with regard to these coffins. When the honourable Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of our country, his government too had bought coffins from the United States in order to transport the remains of people like your father who had died in the Kargil war. What was disgusting was that the government had taken a commission in the coffins deal too.

Chetan, you are still too young to understand the complexities of all this. I hope that when you grow up you will make an attempt to comprehend it all.

Today, you and your mother are grieving your loss in Chikkabasavanahalli. But remember that thousands of adivasi men, women and children are also grieving their losses in places like Chattisgarh.

The reasons for your grief and their grief might be different but the grief is the same.

Chetan, do you know that the government of Chattisgarh has imprisoned many boys your age because it thinks they are a threat to the security of this country?

Just the way you are an innocent little boy, so are they.

Just the way your father became a victim of the vile machinations of Chidambaram and Vedanta, thousands of adivasi fathers, mothers and children are also becoming victims of the same duo.

I hope you understand that the real criminal here is none other than our government.

With my heartfelt condolences,

B.Parvateesha

(This is the translation of a letter that appeared recently in Gauri Lankesh‘s Kannada weekly, Lankesh)

Photograph: Nethravathi, wife of slain CRPF subinspector Shivappa offering pooja to his mortal remains on April 10. Chetan is by her side (courtesy The Hindu)

***

Also read: ‘What Muslims were to BJP, Naxals are to Congress’

CHURUMURI POLL: Will the ‘State’ beat the Naxals?

When Priyanka meets Nalini, she’s a messiah. When…?

One question I’m dying to ask P. Chidambaram


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