Questions of Violence

Questions of Violence

True stories, some thoughts and feelings about violence – all mine:

I met a young woman, about 25 years of age; she was sitting with four daughters outside her home in an Adivasi village. My friend told me her story. She belonged to an Adivasi tribe. She was married at a young age and soon became mother to two daughters and suffered ‘postpartum depression.’ The villagers did not recognize that this was a mental health case. She did not go to the fields to work so her husband deserted her and left her at her mother’s place. Deep in depression she would wander for days in the jungle where she got raped, repeatedly, and she had two more daughters!

My friend said that the tribals do not rape a girl. Who raped her then, I asked. Perhaps the tribals, he said. Why? I guess because she was alone in the jungle. She was available.

My friend Arvind Shrouti said that the fundamental question is ‘If someone is available for exploitation, does that mean we should exploit him/ her?’ While he said this in the context of labour management issues, the rhetorical question is true about life in general.

Vijay Tendulkar said, ‘Every man is like a tiger on a prowl!’

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I was holding a leadership development program for doctors who worked in PHCs (Primary Health Centre) in various states. Among them was a young lady doctor in her late twenties and she was working in a remote village in Bihar. I asked her about her safety, and she replied, ‘Villagers are very protective of doctors, particularly, women doctors. No one will ever misbehave with us because the villagers will be unforgiving and will come down heavily on a miscreant. The trouble is only in the cities.’

Dr. Taru Jindal, a Mumbai doctor went to East Champaran District of Bihar where she transformed a PHC, and that work has won her many accolades besides the hearts of villagers. Read her story here ‘Transforming The Maternal and Child Care’ . She was fully supported by the villagers.

Who lives in the civilized world? People in the cities or those in the villages?

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Newspapers (and Indian Express in particular) joyfully announced front page story that ‘Two male cheetahs at Kuno make their first kill within 24 hours of being released’ .

Is that a cause for celebration?  What makes us celebrate it?

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Sakharam Tukaram Bhavdane (he was a worker in the Packing Department of Asian Paints) was killed on April 1, 1986 in a running local train between Bhandup and Kanjurmarg (in Mumbai). The assailants thrusted a stiletto through his armpit and twisted it out piercing his lungs. This happened around 4 pm and was watched by a few hundred commuters, because local trains were very crowded at that time of the day. Not one witness came forward! Not one!! The murder case remains unsolved despite several representations; it is 36 years now!

(Pic Courtesy: Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash)

This murder was the result of inter-union rivalry. And unsolved so far? Is this possible without connivance of a union and the railway police? Sakharam was, for several years, a loyal Shiv-Sainik. Why has the political party not used its influence to solve the mystery?

And finally, I wonder what the feelings of an Inspector were when he agreed not to work on a murder case if the connivance theory was true. Do they spend sleepless nights over such an act, or does the job numb their sensitivities?

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Nobody can match MLA Bachchu Kadu in using violence to make the Government work! Yes, to make the Government work! When he realized that many officers of local Government are not in the office most of the time, he declared that he will auction off their chairs if not seen occupying them on Monday and Tuesday. And he auctioned them!!

‘Hospitals in the region did not stock anti-venom despite growing snakebite cases. The frequent power failures during summer nights caused snakebite cases to spike. An exasperated Bachchu dumped snakes in the primary health center and the electricity office.’ ( Quoted from The Week )

Bachchu Kadu’s unusual tactics of violence have produced dramatic results and admiration of the people. Why could that be so? Why do people silently approve of his tactics?

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Akku Yadav was a gangster, robber, home invader, kidnapper, serial rapist, extortionist, and serial killer. On 13 August 2004, he was lynched by several hundred women who stabbed and stoned him. He had chili powder thrown in his face, and his penis was hacked off. The women all claimed responsibility for the murder, and although some were arrested, they were eventually acquitted. Three films have been made on his life so far. The latest one is ‘Murder in the courtroom’ which is available on Netflix. (See Wikipedia). There are many cases of ‘honour killing,’ this is surely an unusual one in that category.

How can the women who claimed responsibility for murder get acquitted? (The police have a different version.) Or was it a politically convenient decision to let them off? And why did the police fail to act timely against Akku Yadav?  

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These are all true stories of violence in the land of Mahatma who preached non-violence. The Adivasi girl was almost a persona non grata till an NGO found her. Sakharam did not matter to the political party which he faithfully supported.

We celebrate Bachchu Kadu and the women in Akku Yadav case because they revolted, and they made the Government and Police authorities dance to their tune!

But is that the solution?

Is it possible for us to become a civilized society?

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

Feature Pic courtesy: Charl Folscher on Unsplash