The sea was rough and choppy. But the moon, Orion and Great Bear in the clear night sky made me forget the rough ride.... it goes without saying, the champagne helped! I hope all my Blogdosts had a good weekend, too!
This appeared in Sunday Times today.....
If I were Zaibunissa Kazi…
Question:What is the one thing Zaibunissa Kazi seems to have done right in her 70-plus years? Answer: She has produced one hell of a smart daughter! Listening to Shagufta Kazi arguing her mother’s case across countless television channels,it became abundantly clear that here was a young woman who knew how the media game is played. Tutored or not, her presentation was faultless. She stuck to her script and refused to budge from her “My mother is not guilty,” position. Shagufta’s timing was impeccable as well. And her emotional pitch must have touched countless soft hearts – including Markandey Katju’s. Suddenly, the focus shifted from Sanjay Dutt and his Bollywood buddies, to an ailing old lady’s tragic condition. She was sick… she was dying… she had suffered for a crime she had not confessed to…twenty years later, she was being sent back to jail… prison life would definitely kill her… besides, she was innocent! It was a brilliant strategy – and it worked! Sorry for the cynicism. But the way this entire saga is going right now ( one sob story after another), makes one wonder whether we need a Supreme Court in India at all! If verdicts are there to be questioned and challenged by any and everybody, why bother with the long drawn out judicial process in the first place? What we are witnessing today, is nothing but staged high drama involving high profile public figures, playing on the country’s emotions. Certainly, asking for pardon is the prerogative of every citizen.And one must hand it Sanjay Dutt ( it’s really pretty obscene to keep referring to a 54- year- old man as ‘Sanju Baba’ ) for making his position clear on the issue (“No thank you,” he says). But this particular case is not an ordinary one. The horrific terror attacks on Mumbai, left 257 dead, and 713 injured, making this one of the best planned and most devastating terror attacks in the world. Those implicated have had 20 years to think about their involvement… and express remorse. One hasn’t come across an apology so far. It seems incredible that the accused expected fellow citizens to forgive and forget what took place in 1993, considering it was fellow citizens who were under attack in the first place
Markandey Katju is an enigma. Or maybe, he is just another retired Judge seeking political office like several others before him. He insists he has examined the case thoroughly before offering support and intervention. Most citizens would have problems with the learned former Judge’s stand. It is hard to find ‘sympathy’ for those who were willing to endorse the killing of innocents in cold blood. It is harder still to accept the argument that a man in his thirties at the time ( Sanjay Dutt), thought it fit to keep an AK-56 for “self-protection”! One assumes he would have used the deadly weapon against fellow Indians, had such a need arisen? Dutt has an entire army of supporters working for him right now – and good luck to the actor. It is hard not to like this affable man mountain . But hello! A verdict is a verdict, no matter how adorable the accused and regardless of how much money is riding on him. Dutt has taken it on the chin and is being a man about it. That leaves Zaibunissa and her smart daughter. If I were in Zaibunissa’s place, I would leave it to Shagufta to fight my battle. Shagufta is far more savvy than a battery of lawyers. She can also teach the cleverest P.R. professionals a thing or two about pitching a story that tugs at millions of heart strings. All that remains for this duo to do is to hire a high profile celebrity – and fire the rest of their advisers ( assuming they exist). Celebrities these days rent by the hour and can be easily convinced to come on board, when the case is this media-driven. Zaibunissa’s projection as a seriously ill, tormented victim with a failed kidney condition, has already worked in her favour. And Shagufta has shrewdly taken the ‘Trial by public opinion’ route.As for the bleeding heart Judge Katju, one can see where he’s coming from, and more importantly, where he is going.
That leaves the families of the dead and injured. Aaah – them! Well… ummm… yes. Poor things. Something must be done for them soon.But before that – how about pardoning Sanjay Dutt and Zaibunissa Kazi?