So they hanged him after all. By the neck. Till he could exhale no more. “We heard his neck break,” one jail official told a journalist friend of mine. That was perhaps a mandatory detail. Exactly when the spinal cord snapped, that particular instant was essential for the collective conscience to be finally declared satisfied.
BJP notables soon declared victory on behalf of the hard Hindutva lobby. The soft part is taken care of by the grand old party itself. Rahul will soon smile those cute dimple smiles and a million tourists will fly into the valley in low-cost airplanes.
That there was no direct evidence in this case is no more an issue! That too has been settled now. How? Well, what is important: collective conscience of the middle class, judiciary, netas and media or the basic fundamental rights of an individual? Those for collective conscience say ‘Aye’, the nation asks, some douchebag TV host might groan; the ‘Ayes’ have it. Go figure.
So what does one make of the guy put to death on February 9, 2013? How did Afzal’s head become a souvenir as if it were some war trophy everyone wants to take home and show to kids? How did a regular guy who hummed poetry turn into the monster who had to be shoved into the democratic guillotine at all costs? As if solitary confinement for 12 years in a 16 ft by 12 ft death cell was not enough.
Why this secrecy, like burglars, one wonders? Why can Ghalib not kiss his dead father's face? There must be some civility even in death! Why can a family not be allowed to grieve? What does India want to prove: That by not letting his family visit him for one last time, Shinde becomes some tough nut? That, Sir, is a clear lack of dignity.
The answers are staring at us. There are times in the life of a nation when your defiant stare is perhaps a befitting response to the deception of what’s being thrown at you. In any case there is so much bad blood and dumb shit flying around that you don’t feel like to add to the chorus.
In 1989 lot of Kashmiri boys did things they never imagined they could do. Those who could not even climb a small tree scaled some of the tallest peaks in the world. No one knows precisely what happened all of a sudden -- back then. Who knows if it was a medley of reasons – spurred by a cataclysmic chain of events set off by another shocking hanging just five years back.
This February 11 would be 29 years since another Kashmiri, Maqbool Bhat was hanged in Tihar, where he lies buried. As if in a diabolical gesture Afzal was hanged just two days short of Bhat’s death anniv. His body too, in complete contravention of the universal statutory laws, was not returned to his folks. And it comes a full circle.
Promptly the press is muzzled and the clamp down begins.
Atoot Ang is not so Atoot after all if you have to hold it down by jackboots. This is state belligerence. Plain and simple. The fault lines are clear. The masks have slipped.
It is so utterly heartbreaking.