Across the aisle: No questions please, we are patriots

Bhopal encounter: Police claimed that all eight had been killed in an ‘encounter’. Was it true or fake? The people of India have, regrettably, tolerated encounters of both kinds.

Written by P Chidambaram | Updated: November 7, 2016 2:19 pm
bhopal jailbreak, simi activists, bhopal encounter, simi encounter, bhopal encounter, rohith vemula, dalits, nationalism, patriotic, nationalists, patriotism, india news, indian express news Police investigate the encounter site at the hillocks of Acharpura village after the STF killed 8 Students of Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists who escaped Central Jail killing a security guard in Bhopal on Monday. (Source: PTI Photo)

A new social and political code is in the making: Don’t ask questions. It is the exact opposite of the ethos that was considered absolutely necessary in a democracy and which led to the enactment of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) — that transparency and openness are the hallmarks of a democracy and that information, with few exceptions, must be available to the public. The RTI Act has made a world of difference to the process of decision-making, reduced arbitrariness and exposed corruption, and is a great weapon in fighting injustice. In the past, governments had got away with plain lies because there was no way to call their bluff. (Courts did intervene occasionally but they were constrained by the lack of judges, backlog of cases and paucity of time. The sheer volume of work has overwhelmed the judicial system). The RTI Act has been a game-changer.

WATCH VIDEO: Here’s Why Bhopal SIMI Jailbreak Could Be An Insider’s Job

Tradition of questioning

The same principle informs the Question Hour in Parliament. Ask a question and the minister is bound to answer, truthfully, within 14 days. Supplementary questions can be put to the minister on the floor of the House and she is bound to answer. Many ministers are caught out in Question Hour. A minister who has provided a wrong answer is liable to be hauled up for breach of privilege. A vigilant Prime Minister, if he sits through Question Hour for a whole session, can separate the wheat from the chaff among his ministers.

If questions had not been asked, the world would be flat, homosexuality would be a disease, and the woman alone should bear the blame if a couple were childless. Gravity would not have been discovered, relativity would be a crazy man’s tale and flying would only be for the birds. Socrates told his pupils to question everything and a good teacher will tell the same thing today to her class. Thomas Becket, canonised later by a Catholic Pope, questioned his king; Martin Luther questioned the Catholic Church’s dogmas. Vishista-advaita was born because it questioned the philosophy of advaita.

Mahatma Gandhi questioned the professed authority of the white man to rule over the Indian people; 50 years later, Martin Luther King questioned the professed superiority of the white citizen over the black citizen. Deng Xiao Ping questioned the Communist-Maoist orthodoxy and ushered in economic liberalisation in China; the Maoists question the inequality and inequity aggravated by economic liberalisation in India. Every war — Vietnam to Iraq to Syria — has been revisited and questioned. The Henderson-Brooks report questioned the conduct of the India-China war of 1962.

The new code

The great tradition of asking questions is under threat. The rules of the new code are:
1. Do not ask questions.
2. If you ask questions, you are anti-national.
3. Your question will be turned on its head to mean something totally perverse.
4. Your questions will be met with irrelevant questions.
5. The irrelevant questions will be answered, not your questions.

There are other gems that have not yet been elevated to the status of rules but they may soon be. Here are two: Asking questions is not good culture (Mr Kiren Rijiju). Asking questions is cheap politics (Mr Venkaiah Naidu). In the last year, there has been a determined attempt to shut out questions and shut up people who asked questions. When Akhlaq was lynched by a mob, the question was who gave the mob the right to kill him. That question was replaced by ‘Did Akhlaq’s family keep beef in their house?’. Socrates would have asked, ‘What has the family keeping meat of any kind got to do with the criminal act of a mob playing the role of judge, jury, prosecutor and executioner?’.

When Rohith Vemula explained in his last testament why he took his own life, all questions were brushed aside. The only question that was allowed was ‘Was Rohith Vemula a Dalit or a non-Dalit?’. The judge answered dutifully that he was not a Dalit. Socrates would have asked ‘Did the answer throw light upon the fundamental issues of discrimination and oppression raised by the young scholar in his last letter?’.

Taking refuge in lies

Questions were asked about the chest-thumping over the cross-border action by the Army. They were turned on their head as if the questions were about the Army’s competence and truthfulness. The new rules took over and those who asked the questions were branded anti-national.

There are questions about the veracity of the official version (or versions) of the Bhopal jailbreak in which eight prisoners escaped after brutally killing a head constable, Ramashankar Yadav. Hours later, the police claimed that all eight had been killed in an ‘encounter’. Was it true or fake? The people of India have, regrettably, tolerated encounters of both kinds. It is the law that does not tolerate fake encounters. Even in the case of a genuine encounter, the law obliges the government to register an FIR and hold a thorough and independent inquiry. The government of Madhya Pradesh is stoutly resisting an inquiry and employing every trick and lie to forestall one. Sample these: ‘Accused’ in cases of terrorism have become ‘terrorists’. Undertrials have become convicted prisoners. Prison food has become chicken biryani.

But let me tell you, the law will catch up and there will be an inquiry. I cannot say whether the truth will come out of the inquiry but, at least, the questions will be asked.

Website: pchidambaram.in @Pchidambaram_IN

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  1. P
    Prashant
    Nov 6, 2016 at 2:22 pm
    The encounter was real or fake is debatable but were these people menace to society, there is certainly no doubt about that....few of them have escaped before also and while doing that they have killed a few people....few of them were terrorists....robbers....thugslt;br/gt;...or all of the above...they killed the constable that is also a reality....if they were arrested again....can someone guarantee that they wouldn\'t have killed someone(again) in order to escape...The question here is \'Whose life is more important?\'
    Reply
    1. P
      Prashant
      Nov 6, 2016 at 4:12 pm
      Abe pig,,Amit shah is from Teli community,,,food minister is from SC community(mr paswan),,it was congress who was filled with Upper caste ppls
      Reply
      1. P
        Prashant
        Nov 6, 2016 at 5:53 am
        No matter how much one criticize Modi,,,but My \"ज़मीर\" or inner voice will not allow me to Vote for Rahul lallu mullayam,,,,modi is good or bad!! But he is 100 times better than Lallu nitish Rahul ,,Rahul even don know difference between Moong daal nd Chana daal,,,nd this shameless fellow wants to be PM
        Reply
        1. P
          Prashant
          Nov 6, 2016 at 5:58 am
          Patriotism is v important,,other wise be ready to be ruled by Muslims again as they took advantage of our disunity and defeated Prithvi raj ,,,,Even in USA they never question when a terrorist is killed in encounter(fake or real),,,,,Indians shd also inculcate this habbit,,,,,,to do This first we have to 100% eliminate Caste barriers
          Reply
          1. P
            Prashant
            Nov 6, 2016 at 7:27 am
            The encounter was real or fake is debatable but were these people menace to society, there is certainly no doubt about that....few of them have escaped before also and while doing that they have killed a few people....few of them were terrorists....robbers....thugslt;br/gt;...or all of the above...they killed the constable that is also a reality....if they were arrested again....can someone guarantee that they wouldn't have killed someone(again) in order to escape...The question here is 'Whose life is more important?'
            Reply
            1. P
              Prashant
              Nov 6, 2016 at 6:05 am
              f NDTV is so honest why don\'t they challenge it in court(SC),,,they will surely get stay orders,,,,,,but they won\'t do this,,,,,,,he is a big big traitor,,,who just want to gain cheap sympathy,,,,80% Indians are with Govt,,,rest 20% are ppl like Brakha ravish mumta Lallu
              Reply
              1. P
                Prashant
                Nov 6, 2016 at 12:29 pm
                The encounter was real or fake is debatable but were these people menace to society, there is certainly no doubt about that....few of them have escaped before also and while doing that they have killed a few people....few of them were terrorists....robbers....thugslt;br/gt;...or all of the above...they killed the constable that is also a reality....if they were arrested again....can someone guarantee that they wouldn\'t have killed someone(again) in order to escape...The question here is \'Whose life is more important?\'
                Reply
                1. H
                  Hemant Kumar
                  Nov 5, 2016 at 11:40 pm
                  The sense of justice is subjective and it can never be absolute. From country to country, the quantum of punishment given for different crimes differs. In India one court gave a verdict that the rape survivor marry the perpetrator of the deable act. The eight SIMI activists who escaped prison after murdering a jail guard, were killed by the Police in an encounter. From the point of view of family of killed guard and the dear colleagues of the guard, the SIMI escapees met justice in their murder in cold blood as they ruined the guard\'s family\'s world and wounded the ethos of Police. However, the champions of justice dub the courage of Police as fake encounter and clamour for following minutest niceties of law and justice as per every letter in the law text book as if this were a imaginary film story. We have to differentiate between skills in article writing and real life situation. The articles are written like film scripts.
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    shan
                    Nov 6, 2016 at 6:03 pm
                    *change the law
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      shan
                      Nov 6, 2016 at 6:22 pm
                      if correctly implemented then talaq is the best available method in this world for divorce
                      Reply
                      1. M
                        Man
                        Nov 8, 2016 at 4:41 pm
                        This ch*tia chamcha of fake h1 family lied about his wife being emplo on his ministry. His answer was he was unaware that she is emplo in the same ministry and take 1crore rupees per month. And now speaking about RTI??? well RTI and everything are OK as long as people are honest. Not lier like you chiddu or boot lickers of fake royal family.
                        Reply
                        1. J
                          Javed
                          Nov 6, 2016 at 1:06 am
                          Every December, lacs of Indian Christians adorn their house with Christmas trees, both real and not-so-real.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;That\'s a lot of trees. And it raises something of a dilemma for green-conscience do-gooders: Are Christmas trees bad for the environment? The answer is YES. It is bad for the environment. It is difficult to dispose. By growing Christmas trees on farms you waste water and use pesticide which is bad. Time to ban Christmas trees no real or fake.
                          Reply
                          1. C
                            crickin
                            Nov 5, 2016 at 9:52 pm
                            "leader" does not like questions...that's why he does not attent parl, does not give interviews to media. it is only one-way jum la....shows up during elc chan rally s, or ph oren to ursand tra vel
                            Reply
                            1. D
                              Deep
                              Nov 6, 2016 at 2:29 am
                              After reading this article, I'm proud to vote Modi and will repeat the same again. Now I feel the motive behind such articles. You did not include digvijay and kejriwal name while making such statements. This clearly shows who u obey.
                              Reply
                              1. A
                                Ashi
                                Nov 6, 2016 at 12:19 pm
                                Sychophant spotted
                                Reply
                                1. G
                                  GD
                                  Nov 6, 2016 at 1:21 am
                                  Great Article by a great man. Thanks a lot. We need to save this country before it becomes too late in the hands of Monkey ki Bhakts.lt;br/gt;Thanks a lot sir.
                                  Reply
                                  1. H
                                    Hari
                                    Nov 6, 2016 at 11:43 am
                                    Have you ever questioned Why only one family must control the Congress Party for over sixty years - Nehru - Indira - Rajiv - Sonia - Rahul? Is the Party and the country family property?
                                    Reply
                                    1. N
                                      Nationalist Indian
                                      Nov 6, 2016 at 2:43 pm
                                      And now bhakts will start questioning whether chidambaram is a hindu or Muslim. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Coming soon multiple theories about his birth, all the way from Nagpur ☺lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;By the way how do people in Nagpur tolerate khaki chadis.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Har sawaal ka jawaab ek sawaal. :P
                                      Reply
                                      1. J
                                        Jdsofi
                                        Nov 6, 2016 at 9:15 am
                                        In one of a debate on tv news channel bjp member parliament shahnawaz hussain replied to a question that "hosakta hai" may be someone outside the jail arranged the clothes of these terrorists. This "hosakta hai" can be applied now herelt;br/gt;"Hosakta hai" may be the jailer might have killed Mr. Yadav, the gaurd. Hosakta hai baychara yadav was eye witness that is why he was eliminated. Hosakta hai ki jailer has allowed the culprits to leave the jail through normal gates because there is no eyewitness who could say they climbed 35 feet wall using bed sheets as all the cctv camera s were defunc. Hosakta hai jailer nay hi cctv camera defunc kiyay hoon. Hosakta hai ki villagers have hidden the ammunition with which the culprits fired on police as there was no recovery of any weapons except a knife which hosakta hai ki so called terrorists have stolen from jailer's cupboard. lt;br/gt;Wah ray ! anything is possible in the most honest and nationalist and super capable pm of hindustan.
                                        Reply
                                        1. J
                                          Jk
                                          Nov 6, 2016 at 11:51 am
                                          In Kashmir, the terrorists have burnt down 27 schools to prevent education for children, so that they turn into Jihadists. Have you raised a single question about this?
                                          Reply
                                          1. V
                                            VP Joshi
                                            Nov 6, 2016 at 3:35 am
                                            I am not answerable to anybody!
                                            Reply
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