Monday, May 12, 2008

Hope and a Little Dynamite

My parents could not sleep yesterday. There were blasts all day and night a few hundred metres from their home.

They do not live in Jammu, where a new terror attack killed civilians, security forces and militants. They live in Lucknow, where officials mounted a warlike operation to destroy a sports stadium and a huge and beautifully built guest house -- with dynamite.

That was quite apt -- in a state where the mafia is given government protection, where crime has long been the highest in India (do not believe what Mr. Amitabh Bachhan tells you), it is quite apt that state power will be used somewhere -- after all they have to do their duty. So on a Sunday, officials showed amazing efficiency and blasted out a sports facility for children and youth, watched by helpless sportsmen and women. India will surely win a gold medal in bad governance -- if not sport.
Why on a Sunday? Because the Supreme Court had been told that the petitioner who had opposed the destruction of the sports complex had "withdrawn" his petition in faraway Allahabad. So the Supreme Court said: "Oh, that simplifies things -- why don't you go ahead and blast the damn thing?"

The Supreme Court can be so innocently child-like sometimes. I hope in the coming years, politicians do not fancy the land where the Taj Mahal is located -- and borrow gunpowder from MLAs to blow it up. OOps -- did I just give them an idea?

In a state where few things surprise anyone anymore, I am pretty sure that several people would have had tears in their eyes yesterday watching the monstrous misuse of power. My mother certainly did. She was driving past the complex, watching the guest house -- where I had also had my wedding reception -- being razed to the ground.

It is hard not to be a citizen of U.P. and not feel pained every single day.

After the current government came to power, I had sent an SMS to one of Chief Minister Mayawati's top aides, congratulating him and saying that I hoped governance would see a change.

I take back that SMS.
(All photos by the author, except when credit mentioned otherwise)