Analysis

Ishrat Jahan and Indian State

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A catalepsy (a trancelike state with loss of voluntary motion and failure to react to stimuli) is the defining feature of our time.

It is not just because the discovery of truth is painful, but the need of truth and the discovery itself have lost meaning. So, comprehending with any kind of truth is just a matter of our political 'self'. Manufacturing events, news, enemies, chaos, consent is a primary need of a "state", else the survival of a state becomes dubious.

For this, the state is ready to use all kinds of violence. The only way to achieve "objective" is violence (means can be different). Weber was right in claiming that this is the "natural" behavior of State. He argues: "the state is a relation of men dominating men, a relation supported by means of legitimate (i.e. considered to be legitimate) violence." This "consideration" is also the state's will.

Nandigram, Lalgarh, Salwa Judum, rape, POTA, fake encounter etc are the metaphors and the phenomena. Obviously these are also development(s). And the rate of development in this domain is much higher than our GDP. It is omnipresent. The manifestation is represented on different stage. They are camouflaged but they are not meaningless like our feelings. Sometime Manipur, sometime Shopian, sometime Salwa Judum and sometime "unsolved" mysteries of arrests and fake encounters attract us on this developmental model as well.

It's five years now. Some young souls departed as a result of state sponsored stage-killing. A cold blooded murder. The warmness of being youth becomes a freezing experience. Ishrat Jahan, a girl from Mumbai, along with Javed Gulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali and Jisan Abdul Gani, were gunned down by Gujarat Police outside Ahmedabad on 15 June 2004, and now a magistrial inquiry report finds that the encounter was fake.

Ishrat Jahan and others are just an addition in the list of victims into state's notebook of "legitimized terror". An early view on the state's role forces us to conclude that the state is pathetic. Why doesn't it understand that imperial tones of policy will go against it? Why doesn't it understand that such displacement and repression will develop anxiety, which in turn will lead to "terror"? And one can conclude that state is poor and lacks farsightedness. But what if state is doing it because of farsightedness, and what if it's an intended programme and a determined policy?

Historical injustice is fatal for a nation and to surmount that, we speak for reservation and delivery of justice to that class. But what if history of injustice is written in front of us? Then how much abnegation can "we" avail? Country is becoming fragile and weak (from inside). Its real strength - the people of India - are becoming hopeless about justice and skeptical about "developmental" policy. We have failed to learn or in fact we have not learned how to resolve issues through dialogue, how to settle things with argument and tolerance. Let it be Lalgarh or Darjeeling or Manipur. There is worth noting distress and anxiety within the intellectual class (too) from this developmental model. But "food for thought" is still not worth to be translated into a movement - a movement for change.

In the mood of deep dejection I entered into the garden of Aenesidemus*. He was busy in planting some new tree. He read the pain on my face and said, "distress?" I said, "yes!" Then he shook his head and said, "Skepticism?" I said "yes!" And he expressed his emotion as, "ha, ha, ha." He quickly claimed, "skepticism is a way of life; you can only achieve peace of mind by suspending justice. Go boy, be skeptic and be happy." I returned from his garden in a more thoughtful mood, and I realized that subsidiary of his garden is everywhere, and our skepticism is producing happiness without any sense of irony.

* He was skeptical philosopher of 1st century BC. He saw skepticism as way of life.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 October 2009 on page no. 18

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