By Tuhin A Sinha
Terrorism sometimes can inflict rather strange casualties. One such recent casualty was a nice little romantic relationship that had been brewing between my friend Karan and the girl whom he had been dating for the past two months – Shruti. Karan and Shruti had had some interesting discussions on varied topics and even though their opinion would invariably differ, they made some rather absorbing conversation between them. I guess it was this knack of being able to tickle the other’s notions that had drawn them close.
However, what eventually led to Karan’s and Shruti’s estrangement is something that will continue to interest me even more.
On Saturday the 13th September, Karan had planned to drive Shruti out of the city for dinner. He had planned to surprise her by proposing to her on the date. That evening, destiny however had other plans.
was rocked by a series of blasts, which led to increased security checks in Mumbai too. And even as Karan and Shruti were driving out of the city, their car was intercepted and checked by police officials. Delhi
As they finally reached the venue, a perturbed Karan lashed out, “Bloody hell! How many more terrorist strikes are we going to have? It’s become a weekly affair now. And the worst part- the enemy is faceless- for all you know, he could be a person working in your office.”
Shruti’s reaction was rather cold, “Well, communal riots and persecutions do have long drawn repercussions.”
Shruti’s sentence, though, contained sufficient fodder to trigger off a debate. Here is how it went:
“What do you mean by that?” Karan asked her, surprised.
“Well, wasn’t what happened in Gujrat genocide? Even today, the way minorities are being killed in Orrisa and churches ransacked- doesn’t that amount to terrorism as well?’
“Are you trying to justify these terrorist strikes?”
“No I’m not. I’m trying to make you understand why people take to terrorism.”
“Great! But my understanding it won’t make the act less criminal, will it?”
“But that’s where the problem lies, Karan. We attack the symptoms without getting into the diagnosis.”
The debate got more contentious. For a moment, Karan thought about this thing of diagnosis and symptom, before he responded.
“Look Shruti, what happened in Gujrat was most shameful. But does that mean we will have to bear these terrorist strikes for the next 100 years? Isn’t there the law of the land to book the culprits responsible for communal killings?”
“Ha,” she laughed almost derisively. “What law of the land do you talk of, Karan? Can you tell me just how many culprits have been convicted for 1984
Delhi, 1992 or the 2002 Gujrat riots? They all go scot-free. ” Bombay
“Well so do a lot many terrorists who are behind these recent blasts. Don’t they?”
“But then we’ve had biased laws which were simply meant to trap scapegoats.”
Karan got miffed.
“Shruti listen, don’t mix issues, alright? I know one thing- every-time, a terrorist strike occurs, it rattles me. It makes me fear tomorrow someone from my family could be the victim. Do you realize that some 30 innocents have lost their lives today? Some 56 did a month back, 75 odd died in Jaipur in May ? We need far, far stricter laws to end this menace.”
“Karan trust me, it hurts me as well.. my point is just that communalism and terrorism are inter-linked and for me both are terrorist acts..”
Karan seemed to be hoping Shruti would share his anguish and blast the terrorists in as many words. Since that didn’t seem like happening, the debate got progressively shriller.
“Damn it. Know what, you’re simply justifying these terrorist strikes by putting the onus on communalism. If I go by your logic, tell me, why is
today at the receiving end of terrorism? Tell me something, do you have faith in our judiciary, in our legal process? Isn’t a legal trial on for all communal riots cases?” he roared. Pakistan
“Ha. You must be kidding, Karan. The judiciary of this country sucks as much as our politicians do. I have no faith in it.” She went on unfazed.
Karan, by this time seemed to loose his cool completely. A brief moment of lull preceded his terse final retort.
“Then leave this country.”
Shruti was just stunned to hear this. He seemed all agitated and in the sheer heat of the moment, repeated his last sentence. “Yes, you must leave this country if you feel so.”
Well, it was beyond Karan’s prerogative to tell Shruti whether or not to stay in the country. But yes, the fervor evoked by this debate made both realize that personal fondness cannot overcome the rifts that strong and innate ideological convictions sometimes create. It eventually led to them drifting apart conclusively.
When this incident was narrated to me, I thought it was a classic case of ideological conflict impacting personal bonds.Terrorism, this time around, had succeeded in inflicting a rather peculiar, unsuspecting casualty.
This article was first published in Male Quotient (MQ), a TOI supplement, on 1st November, 2008.