Thursday, June 14, 2012

Police State - The naked face of fascism in Karnataka

Just when you thought that things couldn't get worse or get more comical, it gets both worse and more comical. This is what struck me as I witnessed today the un sanitized, un filtered, raw nature of the political beast face to face.

It was 7 in the evening and the sun light had just gone completely out and the lawn lights were turned on in full. I was standing all alone large ground the size of a soccer field in front of the "District Commisioner"'s office in Ramnagar - about 20 kilometers from Bidadi. The field was in front of a towering large glass covered office building with huge pillars in the front.  I watched in slow motion the immense activity all around me. I was all alone. But the field was crowded with close to 200 to 300 policemen. All the top officials of the state were there. Competing with us for space was 5 large police vans and more than 30 other odd police vehicles - Vans, Jeeps, Mini busses and what not - with their headlights turned on and many filled with police personnel. Just across the wall behind me a few hundred feet away  adjoining the Mysore highway were hundreds of media men clicking their bright flashes and zooming in their large ugly cameras to strip any small tit-bit that they can tear from the scene before others - without any consideration of politeness or decency. The traffic was partially stalled in this important highway as all the people stopped to watched the drama,

And in front of me in one of the large police vans, in some middle row and behind the translucent and barred glass window was sitting the greatest human being that exists on this planet today. Paramahamsa Nithyananda.  Arrested - in what is a case of outright violation of human rights, civil liberties or the law of the country - by a group of mediocre and amoral policemen working under the behest of even more mediocre politicians and the ignorant public moved by the frenzy of falsity fed to them by the media - who are not only mediocre but also cheap and out-rightly immoral.  They were all congratulating each other and  _ the _ of each of their superiors congratulating them on the "bravery" and planning and success

About 20 minutes before all this, I witnessed an ridiculous excuse for a courtroom hearing. I don't know if I can comment on the happenings for this ridiculousness called "Contempt of Court". I don't know if there is some law for "The contempt of  The Contempt of Court". I would not be surprised now if there was one and I would be booked under that.  I wouldn't be surprised much at this moment by pretty much anything that can happen.

I joined the hearing  at 6.30pm and squeezed into the huge court room (which was in contrast with the small crowded courtrooms we had been in for the previous 'trial') pushing past policemen that covered every inch of the hallway and stairs from the entrance of the District Commissioner's office to this room on the first floor. The large courtroom that could accommodate a few hundred people  had just 10 odd people. The judge - who was so intelligent that he already knew what he was going to say. It was so clear what the outcome was going to be. The act started even without the counsel for the accused being present. One of the counsel's juniors had just walked in with me and I managed to get it with great difficulty as no one was being allowed in to the entire campus. Paramahamsa Nithyananda was now being charged with section 107 and 153 of  the penal code - meaning he was inciting the public and causing riots!

This was the next upgrade to the previous case I talk about in my earlier article where we are charged for getting beaten. Now He was being charged because the government, the media an a bunch of rowdies destroyed his property and have threatened and harrassed Him and his people.  The government counsel talked for  a couple of minutes about this without making sense. For his own protection he needed to be arrested and sent to jail. The junior of the lawyer for Swami who had just walked in to this wierdest situation tried to ask for bail since this was a bailable offense and should be given bail immediately. But the judge declared that he was too busy today to hear this!!!!   No argument from the attorneys and Swami was even heard as the judgement was written and read out.  Presumably because, as I said, the judge was very intelligent and did not need to hear any arguments to understand the truth. At the end of this he was sent to Mysore jail for the night and we were to come back at 2pm the next day for arguments. I don't know what other important engagements happen in a court in a tiny town in a small random district from 9am to 2pm that is more important than handling this case that got the entire state to a standstill and had the top officials of the police force waiting in the room and in the ground downstairs. But surely they could not have chosen 2pm without such important things needing to be handled.

Swami Nithyananda produced before the 
"small" magistrate's  court in Ramnagara
And continuing my narration in Memento style, just an hour earlier a bunch of us were waiting totally relieved outside the State police officer's training academy waiting for him to be released after the court allowed his bailment from his "arrest but not arrest" in the case where some of his devotees were manhandled by Goondas from Suvarna. He was there "just for safety" for a few hours we had been told while they were "arranging for a new set of policemen to escort him to Madurai".  Now we knew that the wait was so that they could file the new case just minutes before closing time and so no bail arguments can be heard.

Cops outside the ashram illegally
"restricting and searching"
without any  warrant or notice
And "maybe".. just "maybe" related to all this action was that few hours before, the ashram had filed a case against the Chief Minister, the IG and the government machinery for illegally "sealing" the ashram without any notice and harassing the residents in the name of investigations and "searching for evidence". All the ashramites were in virtual house arrest as they could not leave or enter the premises. Their communications with the outside world are stopped. The internet is taken down. Their kids were being ordered to gather in the grounds and told that they were all "being brainwashed"! Media was presenting false "findings" in the ashram continuously and claiming ridiculous things like they found alchohol, drugs and what not.

Chief Minister of Karnataka
"Sadananda" Gowda
And couple of days before the Chief Minister of this state had announced that Swami would be arrested and the ashram sealed and taken over. It is funny why the head of state would interfere in a case that was sub-judice and where the "so called investigations" were going on for 2 years now. And the investigation agencies had no progress whatsover. And in a case where no new evidence was found. Except for one channel illegally asking one of the witnesses to talk and airing her false interview for days on end 24x7 to create the illusion that it was true.  Maybe this has nothing to do with the internal spat between two fractions of the ruling party trying to get power and each of them figuring out how best to pander to the so ridiculously called "pro kannadiga" sentiments to increase their chances of success.

Here is a pictorial description of the sequence of events in this drama before this - & from my earlier posting

There we have - the battle field laid out bare for everyone to see. On the one side there is Krishna and a few hundred of his dedicated devotees who stand with Him instead of hiding under their beds and facebook accounts. Standing against him are the Kauravas with the entire machinery of the state - the executive including the Chief Minister, the Home minister, Law minister and what not, the judiciary, the entire police machinery of the state including the top officials starting from the IG, the DC, SP and what not, all the media houses of the state and the country and now a large majority of the public who have been convinced that. It is an terribly unfair battle. And one that not many people can survive .. or even dream of even standing up to.

But Swami is no ordinary person. And I know for sure that he will win. But how the events will unfold is something that I cannot really fathom. I hold my breath and my mala as I continue to watch this movie which is both an intense action drama and a very funny comedy at the same time.

Friday, June 8, 2012

An encounter with the forces of darkness

Last evening was my first encounter with what writers refer to as "the mob". I have read enough about mob psychology and how people lose their senses and humaneness when they group together. But none of that prepares you for the shock of it.

It happened at close to 6pm. A bunch of us were chatting happily in a group in Bidadi. And suddenly someone shouted that there was trouble at the main gate. I rushed to see what was happening. A few others took their cars to cover the half a kilometer road to the gate.  And there, not unlike the mindless Orcs in the Lord of the Rings movies, there were a horde of about 40 to 50 hooligans wearing some ill colored scarfs and trying to climb over the gates to the ashram. The few ashramites who had gotten there earlier were struggling hard to keep them off the grounds.

Mindless Orcs
I took all of 3 seconds to understand the grave danger these hooligans posed. I saw a broken camera and a couple of people being trashed around. As I rushed to rescue one of them, the excuse for a human being who was beating him looked up and turned his attention on me. He rushed towards me with a look that I couldn't understand. There was neither anger nor any emotion. Just the "rage" of a paid Goonda. The rage was real.. but there was no reason for it. They were prostitutes who would supply their rage for anyone who paid them for the evening dose of alcohol.

Ashram administrator wounded 
I dodged this one and moved on to help another ashramite who was being beaten up by 3 hooligans. I put my hand between the ashramite and a stick aimed at him and received the first blow I got from these inhuman folk - whose upliftment is the very purpose for which Swami and the mission are working for.  Though the hand hurt a lot, the pain was more from my realizing how much more the other people were receiving. In the meelee I suddenly saw another ashramite reel over and blood all over his face. The gruesomeness of their own deed scared the mob and they retreated hastily - possibly fearing that he was dead

Suvarna-TV van that was present before the attack started
And the evil that unleashed these mindless  beings on us was from this channel called Suvarna which shamelessly tried to use Swami's name and some anti-Kannadiga sentiment just for the sake of their  TRP ratings. They tried hard to peddle this woman called Arti Rao - possibly paying her a lot of money to appear on their show.  But that hardly had any impact. None of the other media picked up this "excuse for news". Angered by their defeat, they sent one of their cheap editors - Ajit - to cause confusion in the press meet. And when that too did not pan out, they resorted to the old and trusted mob attack. The fact that it was planned attack was obvious because Suvarna's van was at the place of the attack before even we knew of the group gathering at the gate (look at their blue OB van showing up beneath the tree of the left).  And no other group was present to cover the attack. The police conveniently landed up 2 minutes after the last vehicle with the attackers left.

16 of the victims being illegally arrested without cause
And the fun part is, because of the political influence of Suvarna, 16 of us got arrested the next day - presumably for the crime of being beaten up! If it was not a serious issue it would make a terrific comedy story. So this was the worst side of the collective negativity - unthinking violent mobs, political influence, stark violation of human rights, media manipulating public opinion for their personal ends, police inaction.. The list goes on..

And at this point, a thought struck me as to much this was in stark contrast with what I has just seen just 20 hours back. This was in a village called Seeragapadi not far from the town of Salem in Tamil Nadu. I was driving with Swami from Madurai back to Bangalore and we had just driven all though the afternoon and night to reach Bidadi at 4 am that morning. Along the way a large number of devotees had gathered  and were waiting to catch a glimpse of Him. With so much love and eagerness they were waiting for more that 5 hours in each spot. We were delayed in starting from Madurai due to a number of reasons. But that did not deter them from waiting for just a glimpse of him. In the places where he got off the car one could feel the overflowing love and gratitude of the people. Their faces glowed with excitement and one could be very sure that they would all be on cloud 9 for the next month or more. Garlands and Gifts and Music .. and people waiting in the hot sun for hours - all for a 30 second stop over from Him. And in many places just to see him drive past. And this was not like a political meeting where people were paid to come and cheer. I knew many of them personally and I could see the love they had for Swami.

But none of that prepared me for what I saw in Seeragapadi. I was wondering why Swami would take a detour from the highway to visit this village when we were already running late. All other stops were on the highway itself. It was close to 8.30 in the night and we were a good 6 hours away from Bangalore. But I realized Why the moment the car turned towards the village. The entire village - every man, woman and child - was waiting outside the center there to receive Swami. And they had all been waiting from 2pm - which was when we were initially supposed to be there... and .. the news of his potential visit was given to them only a day earlier. All the women were holding mud pots with fire in them - a sign of respect and a show of their Tapas. But I could not see a bit of tiredness on their faces. Only intense and exploding ecstasy and joy as our car turned into the ashram. People gathered all around him for blessings. Songs were sung and he was invited in with traditional honors and music and once inside the large hall - which all the villagers had built with their own hands without any paid labour - I could see the entire group reflect the bliss an fulfillment of seeing their God. Swami had helped people in the village come out their caste conflict and alchoholism a few years back and now the whole village was into meditation and spreading the benefits of it. I didn't find one sad face in the entire group! I was told by the local police that there is no incident of crime there - none. zero. zilch. I don't know if I can do justice to what I saw that day. I know I cannot. But I encourage each one of you to visit the place. You will know how the enlightened world will look like not so far into the future.

And that memory of the drive was what kept me laughing through the encounter with society's worst. I was laughing inside all through it. I was surprised at that myself because it was a pretty serious situation all through. I then realized that this was because somewhere within me I knew that all this was a last ditch effort by desparate forces.  It looks superficially that there is a lot of resistance. But it is the resistance of the dying evil from the old world as it gives in to a new world of possibilities - that where human beings can live blissfully and in fulfillment. The very idea of which shakes up many of the established players in the field of  money, politics and even tradition.

And He did confirm this idea that came to me in his discourse that day. He beautifully said  (paraphrasing based on what I remember) "The people who love me and are grateful to me do so because they got something from me. They got their lives back. But the people who oppose me have had no interaction with me or are not directly affected by anything they complain about. It is just the collective negativity operating through them. And that is the big difference. And thats why we will win".

And That is why we will win.