Tag Archives: compensation

How to really compensate for injustice committed

It is disheartening when the Constitution is not followed in letter and spirit, but the balm of monetary compensation will not fix the problem.

Dr Kafeel Khan Speech allahabad hc

Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K, he knew he had done nothing wrong but one morning, he was arrested.

These opening lines of Franz Kafka’s classic novel, The Trial, published just over a century ago, in 1925, still ring true. 

Joseph K, the novel’s protagonist, is cashier at a bank. On his 30th birthday, two unidentified agents arrest him for an unspecified crime. The plot of the novel revolves around his efforts to deduce what the charges against him are, and which never become explicit. Joseph K’s feverish hopes to redeem himself of these unknown charges fail and he is executed at a small quarry outside the city—“like a dog”—two days before his 31st birthday.

Kafka, a major figure of 20th century-literature died of tuberculosis in 1924, when he was barely 40 years old. He had wanted all his manuscripts, including of the unfinished The Trial, destroyed after his death, but close friend and executor of his will, Max Brod, ignored the instruction and the world gained a strong literary indictment of an apathetic and inhuman bureaucracy and how completely it can lack respect for civil rights. 

Kafka’s novel resonates with us today for it is not difficult to spot people who have been wronged by our system. Their endless wait for justice, especially those charged with petty crimes, or those who spend the prime of their lives behind bars on concocted charges, is on open public display. 

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Har Qadam pe Zamin Tang Hoti Jayegi… (The Land Will Shrink With Every Step)

For the last few days, a few lines from Sahir Ludhianivi’s long poem Parchhaiyan, have been repeatedly coming back to me. A poem that I had read ever so often in my early youth and thought I had long forgotten, suddenly reappeared in a flash. Here go some of the lines (not really in the order in which they appear in the poem, but in the order in which they came to me):

Noida farmers clash with police over land acquisition
Villages turned into police camps

चलो कि चल के सियासी मुक़ामिरों से कहें/ कि हमको जंगो-जदल के चलन से नफ़रत है

कहो कि अब कोई क़ातिल इधर अगर इधर आया/ तो हर क़दम पर ज़मीन तंग होती जाएगी

हर एक मौजे-हवा रुख़ बदल के झपटेगी…

ये खेत जाग पड़े, उठ खड़ी हुईं फ़सलें/ अब इस जगह कोई क्यारी न बेची जाएगी

[Roughly translated: Come let us tell the political gamblers/ that we hate the business of war and strife

Let us tell them that if a murderer dares to come hither/ The land will shrink with each step

Every wave of the air will turn turn against you

These fields have come alive, with the crops swaying on them

No more shall even a bed (of the field) be sold]

Though Sahir’s poem was written as a protest against war, some of these lines resonate with other, more immediately relevant matters. Ironically, Sahir was protesting against the war mongers pillaging civilain populations but here we are, with the new war mongers of our times: what else is the neo-liberal dream but that of pillage and loot of civilian populations by armed forces of civilian governments. And as they, ‘is hammam mein sab nange hain‘! [All are naked in this  in this bathhouse]:  From Buddhadev Bhattacharya of West Bengal to Mayawati of Uttar Pradesh – spokespersons all of the oppressed! And it makes little difference whether it is a BJP-led NDA government in power at the Centre or a Congress-led UPA.

Continue reading Har Qadam pe Zamin Tang Hoti Jayegi… (The Land Will Shrink With Every Step)