JUSTICE AK GANGULY was a familiar figure in Delhi. By the time he retired, he became more ‘familiar’ for obvious reasons known to one and all. Then, he returned to Kolkata. Instead of leading a quiet life, he took up the business of running the state human rights commission. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had as much trust in him. Now, he’s back in Delhi with a special purpose, namely to trash the judgement of the Supreme Court’s five-judge Constitution Bench in the Ayodhya case. He’s now donning the role of a savior, and is in the forefront of the campaign against the court verdict. Devil quoting the Scriptures?
Ganguly was among the first to start a charade against the verdict after a brief pause for a day past the court order came – after decades of the case remaining in cold storage and of the judiciary sitting pretty on it. No one wanted to touch it, as it was hot potato. Finally, someone showed the boldness to take matters forward and acted in ways as to draw a consensus outside the court to the effect that whatever be the court’s decision, it would be respected by one and all.
Clearly, retired judges AK Asok Kumar Ganguly and Markandey Katju have suddenly become restive. They wanted to stand up, speak up, uphold the law of the land. If someone looks at this obsession at their late age in a different way, they might be compelled say that “two oldies are trying to unleash a storm and make heroes out of themselves.” Like, say, Knights in Shining Armour. They might earn new badges as protectors of the Indian Constitution; something which they might or might not have trashed when they held high offices in their prime time.
Your Honour, it’s easy to criticize, but difficult to perform; it’s easy to preach, but difficult to keep one’s reputation intact. Justice AK Ganguly must know.
To many of us, there was a world of relief when neither the Hindus nor the Muslims raised any objection when the verdict was delivered. The worse scenario was anticipated, and the nation was on edge. But, it was also a moment when India stood as one. Once the court ruled, both sides took things in their stride. Both sides felt they got something out of nothing. Then emerged the Katjus and Gangulies from nowhere, muddied the waters and started working the emotions of one side – the Muslims – up.
It should be argued, in the fashion of a lawyer in the court room, that what these worthies, these old hats, expected was to stir a hornets’ nest; and that they succeeded to an extent. The Muslims who were keeping quiet and feeling a sense of relief that the issue was after all over, started suspecting their own quietude. After all, the Katjus and the Gangulies have spoken up and defied the consensus – the same consensus that was painstakingly built up with sustained effort by responsible elders from the sides of the Hindus and the Muslims with a little bit of background music from Modi & Co.
Alas, Melord! The Katjus and the Gangulies, hiding their glee, virtually threw a spanner in the works. Prodded into action, and as if on hint, Muslim leaders started speaking up and speaking against the verdict. To start with, it was a solo voice of dissent from Hyderabad’s Assaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM. Then, more leaders came forward to say they were not happy with the verdict. There, then, was a steadily rising tempo to their dissent.
Now, the first review petition has been filed by the Jamiat –e-Ulema Hind, which was a party to the original Ayodhya case. By doing so, they declared openly and firmly that they wanted to contest the apex court order. Frankly, there is nothing wrong about this; it’s in the fitness of things. The laws of the land give citizens the right to seek a review every time a court comes up with an order. They can go in appeal, and the last resort is a review of the final order. Muslims exercised this right due to them – but, notably, after they started hearing from Hindus like the Katjus and Gangulies in so many words that Muslims were taken for a ride by the court. It will now be left to the court to come up with its view on the review.
his now might as well be just a start. More Muslim organisations would line up and file review petitions. The Muslim Personal Law Board has stated as much. Its natural corollary is that Hindu organisations wanting to get the Babri Masjid land to build a Ram temple will follow the footsteps of these Muslim organisations and line up with review petitions. The scenario could turn both hot and bitter, again, thanks to the Katjus and the Gangulies – the very men who sat in top judicial positions and did not move a finger to expedite the Ayodhya-related matters at the apex court. Now, they are in the forefront with much glee to pick holes in a hard-won judgement that was hoped to usher in peace and communal amity.
Your Honour! Does anything prevent the Katjus and Gangulies to throw a spanner in someone’s works? India gives as much freedom too to its citizens. This is also why India’s elitists are zealously guarding the freedom they have from any threats — threats from the likes of Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister. They want to be on the footloose, and why not!
They have the freedom, too, to take the society to the brink! Rather, this is what freedom in India meant to the army of the self-styled elitist creed fattened as they are in their whole life by sucking the blood of the nation, taking hefty salaries and perquisites for long years, and later using their retired life – with copious pensions – to further vitiate the atmosphere and make a mess of others’ lives. They would, one surmises, be happy if the Hindus and Muslims fight in the streets, because they are unaffected; ensconced as they are in the safety of their homes in plush environs and having the facility in their drawing rooms to watch live the ‘drama’ in the streets. It’s understandable if politicians who, by their nature, fish in troubled waters. But what of the retired hands from the judiciary, who, one supposed, were made of a different mettle?
Your Honour! We have reports of grim experiences left behind by the Gangulies while they were still warming their seats and yet bringing a bad name to the judiciary as a whole. Justice AK Ganguly is no saint, afterall. Shocking situations are past us. Donning a coat by itself does not bring dignity to an individual. Dignity is the coat that one painstakingly builds around by virtue of his good deeds. Expectations were that the Gangulies would depart into a quiet life. They will not. Clearly, they have tasted blood, and would want more blood. What they obviously think, Melord, is that they can take the nation for a ride and keep quoting scriptures from their muddied minds.
Me’lord! Inference, thereof, is that if Muslims would want to live in peace – as they have graciously and abundantly demonstrated after the Babri Masjid verdict – the Gangulies would not allow them to. The Gangulies would rather lick them and kill them. This is the tragedy of India.
Let us turn to Kashmir. The prophets of doom are now silent; because Kashmir is silent too – after a season of curfew, shutdown, chest-beating among the Prashant Bhushans and more. People there, by their resort to rule, demonstrated beyond any doubt that they simply want to live in peace. But, would our breed of mischievous public figures allow them to? This is the big question. Rahul Gandhi ran into a CWC meet and cried a halt to it, saying Kashmir was burning; and ruled that this was no time to discuss who should succeed him as Congress president. The nation was aghast. What’s happening over there? Sitaram Yechury staged a drama alongside his sidekick D Raja and reached up to Srinagar airport only to take the next flight back to Delhi. Knowing as much, why did he take a flight to Srinagar and wasted the party’s money, plucked out of the poor labourers’ membership fee?
Me’lord. For some, every situation presents them an opportunity for one-upmanship. But, can they fool the people? The good thing about Indian democracy today is that it is maturing. Television at every home made a difference to the old scenario of leaders bluffing their way up. People today are watching. By watching, they are learning, and they are learning to form opinions; they are learning to separate wheat from the chaff, or chaff from wheat.
For the ordinary man who has no axe to grind against anyone, unlike the power brokers and publicity seekers, the action in Kashmir – of ending the special or autonomous status – was the most sensible thing for Delhi to do in the present circumstances. Why? Because, nothing justifies a special status to someone or a territory fed with precious funds from the national exchequer and for as long as 70plus years at a stretch. What India got back from Kashmir was outright bloodletting; and our leaders in Delhi sat sulking. Why blame only the Nehru era?
A special status rebels against the very concept of equality. Rather, why a status at all? Autonomy, yes, as long as one can take care of himself. Instead, autonomy for Kashmir gave a handle to pro-Pakistani elements abetting terror in the Valley to hold forth with their guns. Autonomy gave the audacity to the generations of people there to think they were a privileged lot. It made them trigger-happy. One of the first steps that the Modi government did in its first term was to exterminate someone who posed himself as terrorist commander and went on a killing spree; Burhan Wani. His own family, even in its hour grief, had no word to blame the government.
Curiously, a week ago, when reports came from China about how cruelly it suppresses dissent and Islamic fundamentalism, the likes of Sitaram Yechury here looked the other way. Terrorists cannot be handled with kid gloves; unlike what some pretenders to the throne here would like to argue in the hope of getting a few votes from the minorities. The youths in Kashmir were being misled from many sides – from Pakistan out to bleed India, from India’s homegrown secularists making vote banks out of the minorities, and the Kashmiri politicians whose first priority was their own survival and wealth multiplication. They are caught with their pants down now.
Rather, the ordinary Kashmiris were the ones at the receiving end. They might breathe easy now. It is worth posing a question, will these apologists lose their sleep if a hundred Kashmiri youths were gunned down in a day? These pretentious public figures acting as the conscience keepers of the nation have virtually no scruples and are game compromising with national security. They are there for the media-driven show, bent on making heroes out of themselves. They survive because India gives them the freedom to rebel, go haywire or be footloose irrespective of its grave consequences to the nation.
The need today is to curtail freedom and catch the guilty by the scruff of his collar.
Before ending the argument, a simple question: Who sent Ganguly to Delhi to trash the Supreme Court and tease the Centre? The answer, Melord, is in the question itself.