Democracy Wins as Tytler, Kumar Withdraw by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (APRIL 11, 2009)

Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam on the turn of events since Jarnail Singh’s high-profile shoe protest.

We had begun to have some idea of how effective a shoe protest can be right at the moment journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his celebrated pair of shoes at the world’s most powerful person. The country that was devastated in the name of non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) replied to the invasion with the most effective weapon of democracy (henceforth WD), a pair of shoes.

Earlier this week journalist Jarnail Singh of Delhi stepped (figuratively, of course) into al-Zaidi’s shoes by throwing a single shoe at Union home minister P Chidambram, which missed him, but hit Jagdish Tytler, senior Congress leader and accused of leading killer mobs in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Eyewitnesses who survived the pogrom insist that they had seen him leading the mobs. However, the CBI has not found anything against Tytler, and given him a clean chit. That infuriated Singh enough to register his WD protest.

The CBI, with all its resources, sometimes does not see what ordinary people can clearly see. For instance, it is still not clear about the Arushi murder case, and has changed its stance several times over the months. It took a lot of time to see that Pandher, in whose home at Nithari more than 20 children of poor neighbours were raped, butchered and cut to pieces, could be involved in the crime. Is it possible for someone who lives in his home with his servant not to hear the heart-rending cries of children being cut to pieces. Pandher, who is not short-sighted, must have seen human blood flowing through his drain. The entire locality was stinking to high heavens. Pandher’s sense of smell, too, is not deadened. Yet, he did not know anything was wrong. The CBI, too, took months to know what was obvious.

Denial of justice for a quarter century can exasperate anyone, not just a Sardarji, to throw a shoe in protest. With that the wheels of justice have begun to turn. The case against Tytler and all others accused of mass murder must be investigated more thoroughly and justice made to prevail. The other senior Congressman from Delhi accused of involvement in the 1984 riots is Sajjan Kumar. Both of them have been members of Parliament for years. This rankles in the hearts of the victims.

We must appreciate the sagacity of Congress leadership for having dropped these two persons from the fray. That would dramatically improve the prospects of Congress party not only in those two parliamentary seats of Delhi, but in most parts of the country. Their withdrawal from the race is a clear win for democracy. However, we must realise that this is just the beginning.

Now, 1984 riots investigations must begin in earnest and the guilty of the massacres brought to justice. With that we also have to take up the cases of Babri Masjid demolition and Ayodhya-related riots cases, the Hashimpura-Maliana massacre cases, and the Gujarat-2000 cases. The perpetrators of a string of riots against Christians, too, have to be brought to book.

Sardar Jarnail Singh has done a great service to democracy, indeed.


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