Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Jessica Lall redux.

Light a candle in your window to show solidarity with the victims. We've heard this call before. Not just in Rang De Basanti but also in the aftermath of the acquittal by the Delhi District Court in the Jessica Lall murder trial. Lall, you'll recall, was a member of the Delhi High Society, a model and a celebrity barmaid on duty at Tamarind Court owned by socialite Bina Ramani. She did not belong to the hoi polloi. The uproar after the acquittal was triggered by the desire of the Delhi aristocracy to avenge one of its own. Who is the common man in urban India? RK Laxman has been following his exploits since 1961 in the pocket cartoon (You said it) on the front page of The Times of India. He has always drawn him and his wise-cracking wife to resemble denizens of the lower middle class stratum of Bombay. The couple was unlikely to ever wander into Wasabi, The Golden Dragon, Tiffin, The Sea Lounge, Kandahar, India Jones, Frangapani, Zodiac Grill and eateries of the fine dining persuasion. Apart from whether they could afford to eat in any one of them, I wonder if the otherwise affable Sardarjis who used to guard the entrance of The Taj and probably of The Trident and The Oberoi would have allowed them to walk in. They were probably more likely to be embroiled in the massacre at the CST Terminus. Or, be waiting for a Western Railway local train to arrive at one of the seven stations where bomb blasts took place on 11 July 2006. With 200 dead and over 700 injured - mostly from the hoi polloi, that one was a terrorist attack of no mean proportion. Despite the loss of human life being much higher than in the 26-29 November 2008 tragedy, there was at that time no braying for the blood of those in charge of the security of Mumbai and the safety of its citizens. Come 26 November 2008 with a frontal attack on the three aristocratic and supposedly secure SoBo bastions and sanctuaries, though, and there is suddenly much agitation. Blue blood has been spilled, after all. Enough is enough. SoBo elite's hubris is at stake, ladies and gentlemen, and must be avenged at all cost. The unspoken ground rules of special privilege must be imposed.