Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Shoot them all. We do not want another Veerappan

20 red sanders smugglers have been shot dead. Jobless politicians have something to cheer for the next few days. They would be interviewed, they would join discussions on television channels answering when the nation demands. Compensation of INR 3 lakhs announced for the victims and the blame-game has started already. Police allege that they shot in self-defense. Looking at the pictures, the victims were wearing jeans and I am not sure how many tribal men wear jeans. We do not know what exactly happened and whether these tribal men worked for a bigger gang. Ignorance is not an escape route for anyone under the law of the land. Just because they could be woodcutters doesn't mean that they can indulge in anything illegal.

In the year 1997, in my village which borders the Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, a Mahindra van belonging to the forest official was blocked and the gang released an accused and damaged the van and thrashed the forest officials. This is how things were in those times. Fast forward a decade, no one visits the forest and people whose lives were dependent on cutting trees were no longer the same. They indulge in some other business and I have heard that the forest cover had gone up in the locality. The reason? Almost everyone who was involved in damaging the van had to go through tough times in Jail and that translates to loss of income for most of them as they were daily laborers. But even today, most of them would argue that the forest officials should not have arrested that person who is innocent but no one dares to ask what this innocent man was doing inside the reserve forest. Even in our own farm in our village, before cutting any tree we have to take permission. You might ask why but that is how the system works. The tree belongs to us, the farm is ours but we need to take permission. We had a Sandalwood tree in our farm and it was cut by poachers a decade ago. 

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When you start finding reasons for why these people have become poachers, you'll find a handful. Let us not get into that. If they started attacking the police officers and forest officials, this is bound to happen. Remember, these forest officials have a family and a school going son or daughter. No one bats an eyelid when a police official dies in an encounter. I had a friend in Engineering whose dad was with BSF. He always used to tell me, "I will make my dad resign once I get a job." Think about it. The poachers, smugglers work for a biggie whose name would never come out in public. But no one forced these poachers to take this as a profession. They chose this profession. 

But whether killing them is necessary? Well, it depends. If you're being attacked and if you were in the forest official's place, I am sure you'd not mind killing those bastards. But if you were in the forest official's place and had you been asked to kill for political vendetta, or to settle scores, I am sure you would have offered your resignation. In a Kamal Hassan movie the villain would say to Kamal, "You cannot kill me, if you do, your middle-class conscience would kill you every day throughout your life." This is one thing many take for granted. But should we politicize and sensationalize every issue? I am not sure. This is not a small incident to ignore. But can we shoot a rich guy at the airport who smuggles gold in to our country? Can we shoot the scamsters? Can we shoot people who evade taxes?

Yes, if they try to kill a Government official. We do not want another Veerappan. Please do not support any politician or a media house that is trying to sensationalize this issue. Let us wait for the truth to emerge. Till then, remember this, "Ignorance of the law is not an escape route."