Saturday, December 19, 2009

Need a dead body? Kill someone.

Some months back, I had blogged about one of the youth from our programme who made a living selling books at traffic lights. I hadn't seen him around office for a long time, but hadn't thought much about it - it is rarely that you notice the prolonged absence of a not frequent visitor.

He came down to office yesterday, and while he walked across to speak to me, I could see he wasn't his usual chirpy self. But I was preoccupied with something else, and put it down to my vagueness rather than his. A little later, I head a story that chilled me to my bones.

Last week, the police needed a couple of dead bodies of terrorists killed in a police encounter. They swooped down on the street where this youth lives, picked up four youth, took them away and killed them in cold blood. The police knew just who to pick- none of the boys who were picked up had family members who might look for them. They were all Muslim, so even if they had any religious signs on them, they would be of the right religion.

I made the person telling me the story three times before I was willing to admit that my ears were hearing what my brain refused to accept. You know that people murder other people, and that sometimes the wrong person gets killed by mistake. You are willing to accept that innocent bystanders get killed by terrorists. But how do you ever accept the fact that you are killed in cold blood by the people who are meant to protect you?

I have heard about fake 'encounter killings' where suspects are killed in staged battles. I know that the police often use brutal techniques to get information out of people. But I never suspected they could stoop to the level of killing innocents in cold blood only to boost their targets. And I can think of nothing worse!

And the boy I know? Last week, he had a providential escape. He's Muslim and doesn't have any relatives who even know where he stays. He could have been one of the four to be picked up, he wasn't. We are trying to convince him to move into an institution for youth like him. He would be able to ply his trade during the day, but would have to return to the institution at night. He is not sure he wants to swap the freedom of the streets for the regimentation of an institution, but even more, he doesn't want to die.

Naseer is a wonderful boy. I wish I could do more for him than just listen to his stories. But even more, I wish there were something I could do, we could do, to stop this.


ladyfi said...

I'm speechless and so very sad. I hope you can help at least one boy not to die...

Tundiel said...

Oh my lordy, that's so awful! I don't know what to say, because 'awful' just doesn't cover it, and I don't think any word DOES cover it. What a terrible, terribly story. I hope you manage to convince the poor boy to go into the institution. It obviously isn't the nicest thing in the world, but if it will save his life, then he should do it.

Wow, you know these things happen, but when it happens to someone you know, it's all the more shocking. I don't pray as such, but I'll be thinking of that poor kid and sending him some positive thoughts.

kowthas said...

This is insane! Please try reasoning with him, to just go under till the storm blows. It's despicable and shameful that we are resorting to this instead of fixing the system, but this seems a quicker and effective fix than working on fixing the problem for now...

Feels terrible.

Watery Tart said...

I have tears in my eyes. I think there are things that 'a certain class' of person in the US remains oblivious to. We know about India's poverty and classism--and to some degree the religious tension, but this is the kind of thing I never would hear without knowing someone who lives there.

The world suddenly seems a giant, scary place to me and I wonder how it can get better. Hopefully the magnifying glass prompted by the people who see it as wrong will eventually work. I can't give up on human nature, so that is what I will go with for now.

Marjorie said...

I too have tears in my eyes. I am not an emotional person, but this made me cry.

Tami, I think that most classes of people in the US are oblivious to this sort of thing. This type of thing really hurts me to hear.

ap said...

Shocking is an understatement.
Is there any way your institution could take this to the press without revealing the identity of the boy?

Patricia Stoltey said...

A shocking and sad story, Rayna. It makes my heart hurt.

dipali said...

Such a horrible truth of life in our country:(

worldthrumyeyes said...

Wonderful post Rayna. You know its people like Naseer who are tortured so much that they take refuge in the arms of the terrorists who make them believe that they are doing work of the Allah!!

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Fiona - there was a time when I wanted to save the world, but now I realise that if I can help even one person in any little way, it is a great thing.

@ Tara - I don't pray either, but I am sending the warmest thoughts that I can across to him. There is really not too much more we can do, is there?

@ Rads - the system needs to be fixed, but right now, I am thinking of just what you are - to save one particular human being. Maybe by the time our kids grow up, the world would have less cruelty in it.

@ Tami - I refuse to give up on human nature either. We are intrinsically good, and when enough of us put our hearts to it, change has to happen. But the world has suddenly become full of dark creatures.

@ Marjorie - I think I am still crying. The world is suddenly no longer the safe place I thought it was.

@ ap - press not interested, but we are hoping we can at least make sure the guys are documented, so there is proof they existed. It is the people who "never existed" that disappear.

@ Patricia - mine too :-(

@ Dipali - it is horrible, isn't it?

@ Nova - thanks for dropping by, and I will visit your blog pretty soon. And doesn't it say a lot for the resilience and intrinsic goodness of our youth that so few of them become terrorists? Naseer could be forgiven for hating the world, instead, he is just scared for his life.


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