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Another tragic crime, another brave man dead - shall we just move on ?

By - S. Sharma

Mathura (U.P) January 25, 2004: Twenty one year old Manish Mishra was thrown out of the running Chhatisgarh Express between Mathura and Kosi Kalan on Saturday (January 24 2004) evening after he protested eve teasing by some drunken youth. More then 60 other passengers in the packed Chhattisgarh Express coach just watched as hoodlums hurled him to his death on the tracks below. 
Gaya (Bihar) November 28, 2003: Former IIT student and National Highway Authority officer Satyendra Kumar Dubey was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Gaya on November 27. Dubey reported the corruption in NHAI project in Bihar and was on hit list of local mafia.
Kolkata (W.B), January 1, 2003: Sergeant Bapi Sen died after being beaten up by fellow policemen on the last day of 2002 as he protested against their drunken teasing of a woman who was traveling on a motorbike with a companion. The woman Bapi Sen died saving has not come out in the open.
Kolkata (W.B) September 22 2003: A 39-year-old Howrah trader Shaktipada Karar's died on Saturday night after being beaten up for trying to protect a girl from eve-teasers. 
Mumbai (Maharashtra) August 14 2002: 17-year-old victim raped in a local train in presence of several commuters ''too paralysed'' to intervene. 

At a casual glance these all are apparently unrelated news reports. A closer look would reveal that these reports represent some of the tragic crimes, which in some form or other we see or hear everyday in India. These cases got the media coverage that they really deserved. For each one of these tragedies highlighted by the media there are many others, which go unreported. Media and public soon forget and move on, and then report of another gruesome tragedy reminds us once again that everything is not right in the Indian society. Manish Mishra, Bapi Sen, Shaktipada Karar represent brave upright people, who were sensitive to the sufferings of the fellow human beings and tried to intervene when they saw women were being molested by miscreants. It would be foolish to think that such crimes only take place in India and in developed countries crimes like murder and rape don't take place. Heinous crimes take place almost in every country. What surprises me was the reaction (or the lack of it) of the passengers of the Chattisgarh Express and the Mumbai local train who remained mute spectators as those ghastly crimes took place. They represent the cowards who were not moved as these tragedies took place right in front of their eyes. I wonder how they would have reacted if their sister was molested and if their brother was thrown out of a moving train. Many of them would be thinking that tragedies just happen to others and they can avoid such a mishap by not getting involved. I can just say that such people are suffering from 'Ostrich Syndrome'.

People have questioned the role of Indian law enforcing agencies and political leaders in crime and corruption. Role of politicians and police is appalling most of the times. This is not surprising since some of them are directly or indirectly involved in crimes and corruption. Telgi stamp paper scam is one of the recent examples of politician police nexus in crime and corruption. But blaming individuals professions and even individuals would not help much in solving the problem. Police, politicians, officers, clerks, doctors, teachers, lawyers, judges, executives and others are part of society. There has been a slow and steady change in values and norms of our society. Many of the changes have been for better while other changes are having an adverse effect.

Some years ago stories of bravery of Maharana Pratap, Shivaji, Rani Laxmi Bai, Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose and gallant Indian Army soldiers generated a feeling of nationalism in children. Youngsters were taught to resist oppression and tyranny and help people in need. In this generation many children see that their elders do not stop to help victims of roadside accidents!!! Many parents allow their children to play violent video games and kids routinely watch violence on television and movies. Television, movies and violent video games are not the only things to be blamed. Our society has equal responsibility for the diminishing moral values and increasing crime and corruption. Values like honesty and integrity, which were routinely taught by parents and teachers to the young children, are being replaced by talks of 'How to earn quick and easy money'. Bribery and corruption, which were a social taboo in India few decades ago, are now fairly well accepted in the society. People openly discuss about their 'extra income'. Parents of a girl often ask prospective grooms about their salary and also the income from 'other sources'. Greed and self-interests are slowly replacing honesty, integrity, and brotherhood. The concept that poverty and illiteracy are breeding grounds for crime and corruption are only partially correct since corrupt people and criminals are present in every economic group. So a better literacy rate and improvement in economic condition are important for development of a country but these may not necessarily bring down crime and corruption rate. Countries with lowest corruption and crime rates are the ones where corruption and even petty crimes are considered as an absolute taboo by the society. A better society is only possible when we start to change our home and family without waiting for our neighbors to change. If we setup a good example then children are bound to follow. 

Satyendra Kumar Dubey is now an icon for honest and brave people. His murder outraged everyone. But was that outrage enough to make us promise that we will never give or accept bribe? We all talk about fighting corruption in India but isn't it true that when time comes to act only a few can act and sacrifice for the cause like S.K Dubey. If we can follow some of these known and other unknown 'heroes' who are setting example of honesty and courage, India would then be a place that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore visualized - a land 'Where mind is without fear and the head is held high'. 

'Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought
and action-
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

- Rabindranath Tagore