My son was admitted to a hospital and needed treatment for a long time. I stayed with him and looked after him.
While there, I observed many other patients and their families. I also experienced their trials and tribulations.
There was this forest officer who had undergone neurosurgery and was recovering. His wife and son went to all kinds of trouble to bring him back to life and normalcy. Their hope, concern for the patient and the hardship they underwent smilingly were touching.
One of the problems they had was of course money, as the surgery and the months long stay in the hospital had taken their toll on their resources. They had spent a lot of money and were trying to get it reimbursed from the government, as they were eligible to. With the help of friends and the colleagues of the patient they moved the papers and finally it reached a stage where the district surgeon had to sign it so that the money could be reimbursed.
What happened next is unimaginable. The wife of the sick man travelled overnight by bus and met the district surgeon. The district surgeon demanded 20,000 rupees to sign the papers. When the lady pleaded with him not to demand that money his reaction was “when you are getting so much money from the government, can’t you part with even this much?” What sort of a sick mind can do that is beyond me.
Years ago, at the height of the Naxal movement in Kerala, during the seventies, there was the following incident. A woman was in labour and her relatives approached the local government doctor in the middle of the night for help. The doctor refused to budge till he was given a huge sum of money. My memory says 5,000 Rupees but I am not ready to bet on it. In any case, the relatives went around trying to collect some money and in the mean time the lady died and the baby was stillborn.
The next day, the Naxals walked into the village, caught hold of the doctor, tried him in public, found him guilty, hanged him to a tree and disappeared into the forests.
Now, was the doctor murdered or was he executed? Was what the Naxals did right or wrong? If there is a Naxal movement today in various parts of the country, is that a disease or is it the symptom of the disease society at large is suffering from. What punishment does the district surgeon of the present case deserve?
Now, let me make it clear. I abhor violence. All violence. No ifs and buts. I also believe that violence does not cure violence. “An eye for an eye…..” and all that. See the results of the “peaceful” war in Iraq that was supposed to bring democracy and peace to the whole region?
That said, whose is a greater violence - the doctor’s or that of the Naxals who killed him? The Naxals may truly believe, however wrongly, that they are ridding society of a pest that will eventually reduce violence in the world. Is it not the same reason that governments proffer when they assume the right to execute convicted murderers?
The admonition of the Supreme Court of India that the death penalty be used only in the “rarest of rare cases” does nothing to the fact that the state reserves its right to kill. But that stipulation is thrown to the winds when the Naxals are hunted in encounters, fake or otherwise.
The government, that does nothing about the doctor or even actively protects him and his misdeeds, is out to hunt the Naxals. Eliminate the symptom and not the disease?
How many people who saw the Tamil movie ‘Indian’ subconsciously sympathised with the protagonist who kills (executing?) the corrupt officials?
The answer my friend……………