The Aam Admi Party it seems has now decided to hit back at critics by uploading videos on Youtube to defend the controversial actions of Somnath Bharti, its Law Minister in Delhi done purportedly ‘in public interest’. Bharti has been chastised even by AAP supporters for his vigilantism and for trying to force the Delhi police to raid the house of suspected sex and drug racketeers and who in fact ‘helped’, along with his followers to catch two of the fleeing women.
Eight videos have been uploaded. They, according to the party contain incriminating evidence to prove that sex and drug racketeers were very much active in that area. Reporting the videos The Times of India says “… some of the scenes are not so easy to judge. Two clips show an African national walking around naked in the area. In another, three women in a car are rubbing some substance in their hands. Yet another shows several condoms lying about a car.” .
We do indeed see an African national moving around naked in the video. This is supposed to prove the allegation by the party that drugs are being used as according to one AAP worker “Walking around naked like this is an after-effect of drugs and this is a regular occurrence in the area”. You can also see for yourself condoms lying in the car. Do you need any more evidence to prove that the occupants of the car were indeed prostitutes carrying condoms with them and luring men to indulge in sex? Why are these three women rubbing some substance in their hands or trying to hide something by putting on gloves?
Aam Admi it appears do not need any more proof to corroborate its allegations against the Africans of Khirki village. They watch these videos and are satisfied that the ‘poor minister’ was forced to do what an honest police should have done much earlier. In fact, the party has also gathered ‘evidence’ to help the lousy police force, which lets cases fall apart for want of evidence!
By making the ‘evidence’ public the AAP has sought to democratize the legal process. Now the public can also judge. If the judges,who are part of the corrupt system reach a different conclusion, the AAP can always go to the court of the people and tell them that the judges have gone against your judgment and ask them to revolt against the corrupt system.
The new Delhi government of Arvind Kejriwal wants us to wait till the inquiry by the committee appointed by the LG of Delhi is over to take a decision on the conduct of its minister. But the party itself does not want to wait. By some divine sanction it feels it can bypass the process it wants others to respect and conduct its own public inquiry. The results of that inquiry are already out: the minister is innocent and the African nationals are guilty!
Do we find this method acceptable? Are you free to enact a trial online or publicly, placing, propagating , popularizing ‘evidence’ to prove your point? We know that this ‘evidence’ may not stand in a court of law. But that does not worry the moral brigade known as AAP. As far as it is concerned, the videos have served their purpose of proving the ‘guilt’ of the African men and women in the eyes of the common people.
Why do I find it disturbing? Is it because I find it politically abhorring as it is an act of racial and gender profiling ? Does the political incorrectness of the message disturb me? Or, do I disagree with the form of ‘parading’ the evidence in public adopted by AAP?
Why do I say so? Because this public trial reminds me of the tragic result of another recent public trial of a well-known social activist in Delhi by taking recourse to the same method: creating ‘evidence’ to prove your point for or against a person or a community and publicising it widely bypassing the process of law. There was no way the ‘other party’ could have reached this larger community of ‘judges’ and contested this ‘evidence’ unleashed through a collective process. There was no way to examine and question the evidence. Seeing is believing. You have to believe what you are shown. What more proof do you want? Evidence in itself becomes judgment.
This public evidencing against the social activist went on for three months, a public perception was created, the man in question defamed , condemned and destroyed thoroughly. Unable to face this indignation, feeling defenseless before this public crusade, the man killed himself.
Why am I speaking now and kept silent then? Why did I watch silently this public evidencing and trial go on, why did I tolerate it, why did I let my friends encourage others to see the evidence and decide on their own? Why did I not stand up and speak up then? Was it because it did not violate my anti-rape politics? Was it also because like many others I was in hurry to collect more and more, diverse kinds of rape evidence to strengthen an anti-rape public sentiment?
This is something I want to think deeply about. About both the form and method we use in our various campaigns. Our friend Yogendra Yadav says that we are digressing from the real issue of ‘Jismfaroshee’ by harping too much on the form his minister had used to bring to the fore the issue of the menace of sex and drug mafia . But the most recent act of his party of putting the video evidence in public and starting a mass trial to help the ordinary people judge for themselves has again made the question of form central.
Is ‘form’ only a vessel or a vehicle or does it have a meaning of its own? Does the rightness or correctness of a message justify the use of a form which in view of the user is the fittest and shortest possible way to achieve the end in in a speedy manner? Gandhi took the risk of raising this question when it was impossible to do so. Can you use a violent form to achieve a just and free society?
We need to revisit the discussion on ‘Sadhan aur Sadhya’ initiated by Gandhi. Or, we may go even further to Tagore who had questioned Gandhi’s own methods on more than one occasion. The use of a violent and hasty Form acts its shadow on the End you desire What you achieve in the end cannot free itself from the unjustness of the means or form or adopted.
Human beings have evolved a sense of form in all spheres of their lives. We can even say that this unique sensibility of form is what makes us human. Forsaking it for easy or speedy results, even in the case of politically just causes is in a way an anti-human act.
The debates in the field of art and literature have established that form and content are inseparable. The choice of form tells you something about the message and content it is supposed to contain. We also know that the form itself creates its content. We are painfully aware that it was not merely an aesthetic or academic debate for many of our predecessors. Parties or political movements which had once used and justified violence, killing of opponents to achieve their ‘just’ ends have still not apologized sincerely for their use of forms. It is this tactical attitude all of us have towards this question that has led to this culture : a culture of a moral indifference towards the question of form. It is not only for the AAP , but for all of us struggling with our own moral and political contents to stop and ponder more on the forms we adopt. For, is not the selection of a form in itself a moral decision or judgement?