On Friday Nov.20th, approximately 25 Shivsainiks armed with "iron rods, baseball bats and cricket wickets" charged into the studios of IBN at Vikhroli, Mumbai at about 4 PM. They slapped what must have been a terrified female receptionist, smashed property and began beating the staff without regard for whether they were men or women.
It is difficult to believe Shivaji would have rejoiced at the bravery of his twentyfirst century followers as they began to beat unarmed women and men with rods while screaming they wanted to teach the editor Nikhil Wagle a lesson - for reasons not as yet clear.
However these modern day Maratha warriors were in for a surprise. The staff, taken by surprise, rallied and lodged an impressive counter attack. Baji Prabhu Deshpande himself could not have done better. According to eyewitnesses the brave Marathas - not expecting their victims to hit back - were routed and before long were in full flight - rather like, can I say, Shaista Khan's army ?
The IBN staff took some of them captive and detained them until the police arrived - a good 40 minutes later and were reluctantly forced to arrest the captives.
The Shivsena Rajya Sabha MP - a certain Mr. Raut - admitted these hoodlums were their members and in fact justified the criminal behaviour. Needless to say the Shivsena has refused to apologize. After all, attacking their fellow citizens is what they are best at. No one recalls these brave soldiers being anywhere in sight when the city they terrorise was under attack by real enemies last November. Obviously they know the limits of their abilities.
The chief minister has announced the guilty will be brought to book. No one believes this nonsense of course. Mumbaikars are used to having the various Thakres abuse and attack them with impunity and without fear of any action by our secular government. Why these people enjoy such immunity is a mystery. After all the Congress is a sworn enemy of the communal and the chauvinist, right ? These things are beyond the ken of the common man (and woman).
What is not beyond the ken of the common man is that when it comes to protecting himself - whether from the fury of torrential rains, Pakistan based terrorists or our own homegrown holy warrior senas, he can expect no help from our governments - whether they be of the saffron variety or the secular variety.
If the city sinks beneath the waves, the citizens must help one another. If Islamic terrorists come shooting, it is the staff of the Taj and everyday cops on the beat who are your best hope. And when the Senas compete in naked displays of goondagardi you had better have your guards and security at hand. Or better still, put up your own two fists.
I have heard our scholarly PM's daughter works for the American Civil Liberties Union to help protect the democratic rights of Americans. Could she take some time out and protect the rights of poor Indians every once in a while ? True, the Americans will suffer terribly but I am sure they will not begrudge their new allies a little help.
Nov 23, 2009