Monday, May 31, 2010

Justice in Darjeeling

A week ago, prior to the assassination of Madan Tamang, I wrote on DT, “14-15 May strike is to derail Madan Tamang's public speech on the eve of the League's foundation day rather than as cited by GJM.” Though this paradox is well noted by many other commentators too but none thought the magnitude of the said meeting would unfold as on the 21 May morning-- before he delivered his speech, Madan Tamang was no longer. One needs to ask why did the GJM plan to protest/disrupt Madan Tamang's public speech though he was in favour of Gorkhaland ?

Madan Tamang as 'a man who knew too much' 'facts and figures' on the Hill issues (including rhododendron) not only championed the cause of Gorkhaland, democracy, 'collective leadership' but also for transparency. Before he addressed the public on 21 May, he was murdered. Is there any relation with time of his murder and his speech – certainly against the Set-up and pro-Gorkhaland; and most likely on the nexus in the tripartite talk ? Did he die as a whistle-blower ?

Despite post-assassination claims and refutations between GJM, ABGL, Democratic Front, the WB Govt. as well as of the local mass and media, or between CID vs. CBI probe, 'not in favour of talk' and 'talks will continue', 'resignation' and 'withdrawal under pressure', FIR and complaints what remains consistently in the discourse is -- who killed Madan Tamang ? And what remained unmentioned -- why was Madan Tamang killed ? Unfortunately, what was left out from the discourse is not democracy but justice - 'justice for Madan Tamang'. In other words, the rule of the law should prevail rather than 'law of the land', as often the latter case is in Darjeeling.

To seek justice, it is again imperative to ask a twin question: how many murders have taken so far in Darjeeling ? And in how many cases, justice is carried out? Most of us don't know the count regarding murder but certainly we know that none of the cases have been pursued enough to meet justice beyond the customary 90 days custody at 'mama ghar' as generally referred in Darjeeling. If such is the tradition of delivering justice in the Darjeeling Hills, it is not unnatural to expect omission in the discourse, or injustice, or to take 'law of the land' – one who can bully provides 'justice' too. History of Darjeeling abounds with such form of 'justice'. And it is true about the GJM as well as the LF Govt. as it was with the GNLF. Not to mention is about so-called 'minor violations' like of 'IPC section 144', 'threat of a dire consequence', 'grooming of extra constitutional forces' and many more as many tea bushes in the Darjeeling Hills. Does this not show the failure of the law under the LF Govt. ? Or is it to let loose 'one's own people' to avail benefit of it when needed/desired ? It undoubtedly benefits one to remain and exercise power, but how far such value, ethics, and norm will continue and to what extent? To me like to many others, the most frustrating part of the exercise is that it is intentionally practiced form of 'justice' which is corrupting society, community, region, politics, generation, etc.

Finally, will justice be delivered in Madan Tamang's case ? I am  an optimist enough to expect that it will not be. But for sure, the Set-up without the Doars and Terai will be justified. In this given context where every other thing like money, siblings, children, power, etc is greater and bigger than the issue of Gorkhaland, one can hope for a form of 'justice' where mutual hide and seek takes place, where I-beat-you-cry takes place. Such is a place called Darjeeling. No wonder, I guess. More wonderful is public memory which is 'memory-full'.

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