DailyOh! What Justice Muralidhar said of the Hashimpura massacre to Roger Waters’s India connection

Rapping the Delhi Police, Justice Muralidhar said he ‘can’t allow a 1984 repeat’.

 |  8-minute read |   27-02-2020
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Thirty-five. That’s how many people have died in the violence that has been going on in the national capital since Sunday. By the time you read DailyOh, it could have risen further because some people continue to be critical. We hope it doesn’t.

But the water has been so muddied that some of us may not even remember that it all began after the citizenship law was passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019. Since then, there have been protests and minor incidents of protests across the country. But it is Delhi where riots broke out on Sunday.

riots-690_022720054800.jpgRiots broke out in Delhi on Sunday. (Photo: Reuters)

Yesterday, the Delhi High Court came down heavily on the police for not acting tough against people who delivered hate speeches and let tempers flare up. The Supreme Court also took the police to task. Now, we all know that a Delhi Police constable, Ratan Lal, died in the violence and the police personnel have also been attacked in the riots, but the courts are of the view that none of this would have happened had the Delhi Police acted tough and acted on time. Police laxity is a matter of investigation but a controversy has erupted over the transfer of a judge who rapped the Delhi Police saying he “can’t allow a 1984 repeat”.

So, hours after Justice S Muralidhar made the observations, he got his transfer orders. The government was quick to clarify that the transfer was based on the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. The recommendation had come on February 12. Muralidhar reportedly gave his consent for the transfer to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The timing of the execution of the recommendation made it suspect though. Whether the transfer is a punishment for talking tough or is a routine matter is subject of pure speculation. And we will not get into speculation.

What, however, is not a matter of speculation is Justice Muralidhar’s record as a good judge. When news of his transfer came in, advocates who he had ruled against also reportedly spoke against the move. Justice Muralidhar was the one who had convicted members of the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) in the Hashimpura massacre case and Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. The trial court had acquitted PAC men in the Hashimpura case. Do you remember hearing about the case?

The incident took place on May 22, 1987, in western Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut. This was the time when communal riots were going on in Meerut. It is said that 19 men from PAC dragged out 42 Muslim men from Hashimpura, took them to the outskirts of the city. There, the men were shot in cold blood and their bodies dumped in a nearby canal. Imagine the horror the men went through as they were being shot knowing they had no hope in hell because the people shooting them were men tasked to protect them.

The high court bench, of which Justice Muralidhar was part of along with Justice Vinod Goel, termed the massacre "targeted killing" of unarmed and defenceless people by the police.

But we got talking about Hashimpura because we were talking about the transfer of Justice Muralidhar amid the Delhi riots. While violence has been happening in the streets, there is a war of sorts going on on social media over what to call the violence. Some called it a pogrom.

The word pogrom was last used in India during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Do you know where the word comes from? We will tell you because pogrom is our Word Of The Day.

Pogrom comes from a Russian word pogromu and means “to destroy, to wreak havoc, to demolish violently”. During the Roman Empire from 1881-1884, the term was first used to refer to outbreaks of anti-Jewish violence by non-Jewish street mobs. Among the areas the Russian Empire acquired between 1791 and 1835 was the Pale of Settlement. The government did not allow Jews to settle in Russian territory outside the Pale of Settlement. And that’s where most early pogroms happened.

The Oxford dictionary defines pogrom as “the organised killing of large numbers of people, because of their race or religion”. Coming back to the Delhi riots, while some are saying that the violence is directed against one community so it is a pogrom, others claim members of the other community have died too so it is a riot, and not pogrom.

Whether it is a riot or a pogrom, the fact of the matter is that people are dying and everything must be done to stop that, including stopping inflammatory social media posts.

While the debate over the nomenclature can rest with academics, musicians too are joining in the discussions over the violence and its point of origin — the CAA. Now, actors, singers and poets were already giving their opinions on the citizenship law, but the new thing that happened on Thursday was that a foreign artist joined in. Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters called the law “fascist”.

Waters was speaking at an event in London where he said that. He also read out a poem written by a 30-year-old poet from Jamia Milllia Islamia, Aamir Aziz. You may or may not like protests, but protest poetry is difficult to not like. Waters was sent the poem by his friend. Does Waters know Urdu? No. He doesn’t know Hindi even. He read out an English translation of the poem.

Want to listen to what Aziz actually wrote? Oh, we didn’t tell you the poem’s name. Our bad. The poem is called Sab Yaad Rakha Jayega. Listen to it here:

And in case you were thinking why Waters is meddling in Indian affairs, let us tell you the man seems quite impressed with India. So much so, that he has a daughter named India.

Have you noticed, of late, there has been very little mention of Pakistan in Indian news? Happens when things on the domestic front get too messed up. So, the latest from the neighbouring country is that the coronavirus, COVID-19 now, has reached Pakistan. Both Islamabad and Karachi have reported one confirmed case of coronavirus each. The virus could have found its way into Pakistan from Iran because both individuals, who were tested positive, had come from Iran. The cases have created panic in the country, with the government declaring national emergency and Sindh and Balochistan closing down all academic institutions.

While many countries are panicking over the possibility of the coronavirus spreading, estimates suggest that seasonal flu or influenza is a greater public health threat than the coronavirus.

So far, COVID-19, as the virus has been named, has led to more than 75,000 illnesses and 2,000 deaths, mostly in China. Compare this with flu in the US alone, where it has caused an estimated 26 million illnesses, 250,000 hospitalisations and 14,000 deaths this season.

The panic with regards to COVID-19 perhaps stems from the fact that we know so little about the coronavirus. On the other hand, scientists have studied seasonal flu for decades.

In both cases, as we have already told you, the best remedy is precaution. Wash your hands and maintain the highest levels of hygiene you possibly can. That’s for physical health. For mental health, under current circumstances, we suggest you limit the time spent on social media till tempers cool down on the ground.

We have something more to help you. The latest Bond movie, No Time To Die, is likely to be the longest too. The film clocks in 163 minutes (nearly three hours). Want more dope on the story? Read this.

But do you know which has been the longest Hollywood movie of all times? It was the 1963 movie Cleopatra. 248 minutes. Yes, a full 4 hours and 13 minutes. It still couldn’t beat Bollywood film Tamas (1988), which ran for 4 hours and 58 minutes, just two minutes short of five hours. Also, Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), which was originally shot as a single film, ran for 5 hours and 19 minutes. When the film was released in India, it was released in two parts, with a gap of two months in between. No theatre in India wanted to screen a 5-hour-19-minute film, hence the two-part release.

When we talk of movies, especially new releases, we ever leave you without their trailers. Here’s the one for No Time To Die (just 2 minutes and 35 seconds):

We hope you enjoyed it. That would be all from us for today.

We will see you once again tomorrow.

Also read: DailyOh! The riot that made Morarji Desai resign to why IAF chose Balakot for air strike

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