Telegraph Calcutta

Where Mahadeb Really is And is not

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And so it is that I am here. The Here that I cannot spell out into a location that your maps and your GPS devices will not be able to get, no matter what. But you have to be careful. Very careful. Such are these times. I am Here. But perhaps to you I am nowhere. Which is how I wish things to be — a location called Here that is indeed nowhere. People are known to snoop you know. People who are in power and people who control the essential instruments to snoop, snoop. You know that. We know that. And snooping is not the end of it. It may well be that snooping is just the beginning. A terrible beginning to more terrible things. God forbid. I do not wish to be snooped upon. I am the Entitled one. I am the one who does the snooping. I am Mahadeb. Be you ware! Continue reading “Where Mahadeb Really is And is not”

Telegraph Calcutta

Where Mahadeb Comes Back

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Hmmm. That’s how. Hmmm. It is a way of saying it. You may say Om or whatever else, I prefer Hmmmm. Any problems? We all have our ways, don’t we? That’s who we are. There are no prescribed ways. You have yours. I have mine. That is how we are. Right? Hmmmm. That is how I say it. I am. I am at a place. I may not be able to, or want to, disclose where (you will all understand, I know, or should ) but I am. I am not gone. I am. Do not count me among those gone. Gone once and for all, forever, irretrievably. I am gone, yes, but I still am. Continue reading “Where Mahadeb Comes Back”

Telegraph Calcutta

Workman’s Secret Diary

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I swear on whatever book it is that you have yanked my palm onto that I shall speak the truth and the truth alone and nothing but the truth. Some folks say the moment they see me they begin to be convinced all over again that I would. I cannot vouch for 62 or so per cent of the people; they never voted for me, so they do not even count. I swear in the name of those who swore by me. Wajib? Continue reading “Workman’s Secret Diary”

Telegraph Calcutta

The Windmills Of Holland

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The Rascales. Where are they? Flying about? But of course, Rascales would fly; they were meant for that. But where are they? I can hear them dinning away in my ears, but I cannot see them damn Rascales. I can hear them. But why is it I can’t spot them? Perhaps their blinding jetstreams yes, one arching this way, the other that way, scarring the sky and dropping payloads of obfuscation. They are thundering through me, they are shaking me, they are shaking my foundations, I can feel them ripping through my clothing and my farce. But where are they? Oh. Continue reading “The Windmills Of Holland”

Telegraph Calcutta

Soldier. Soldier

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There came a moment in my recent interaction with the chief of the army staff, Bipin Rawat, whose implications are unsettling enough to require remark. I ventured to get his sense of the situation in the Kashmir Valley, and he stopped me short and said he would like to wait a while before he opened up. “There is a new man there,” he said, meaning the recently appointed governor, Satya Pal Malik. “We want to give the new man time. I do not want to fix his position by making statements… I will speak later. He has to set the agenda. He has to decide what he wants to do, how he wants to handle the situation. If I speak now, people will say the army is trying to influence him or dominate the discourse in Kashmir. That will not be right. We have to see how he goes about it. If he has plans and he can rein in terrorism, we will be most happy.” Continue reading “Soldier. Soldier”

2018, Column, State of Play, Telegraph Calcutta

A Splitting Headache

Kashmir is the campaign that New Delhi has lost in key places

 

Just a few hours before Sameer Bhat, better known as Sameer Tiger, a most wanted Hizbul Mujahideen commander, was killed in a gun battle in Drabgam in South Kashmir this week, he had pushed online a short video of a local youngster being interrogated by him on suspicion of being an informer. Towards the end of the clip, Sameer Tiger pronounces a warning on an army officer that he surely meant for a much larger audience: “(Major) Shukla ko kehna sher ne shikar karna kya chhora, tujhe laga jungle hamara hai? (Tell Major Shukla just because the tiger had stopped hunting, you thought the jungle was yours?)” Major Shukla would take a hit in pursuit of Sameer Tiger soon after, his assault party would hunt Sameer Tiger down, but Tiger’s dire dare rings on: it’s a vicious survivor’s skirmish, Kashmir, and it’s often tough to tell hunter from hunted, one day’s trophy chasers can become another day’s trophies. Continue reading “A Splitting Headache”

2018, Column, State of Play, Telegraph Calcutta

A Scorpion Curled

The threat to a free media in India is never far away

 

One of the appointed margdarshaks of the Narendra Modi dispensation, L.K. Advani, was, at one time, minister for information and broadcasting. He ascended the job writing copiously on the derangements of the Indira-Sanjay Emergency regime (1975-1977) and issuing a rap on the media that still resounds as reminder of what must not be repeated: “When the Press was asked to bend, it crawled.”

A lead act of the same dispensation, the finance minister, Arun Jaitley, himself a victim of Emergency-era excesses, seldom misses an opportunity to recall the menace and darkness of those 19 months, or to champion enshrined constitutional freedoms. In his Foreword to The Emergency, an essential memoir of the era by the journalist, Coomi Kapoor, Jaitley wrote: “Political developments during this period were all aimed in the direction of suppressing democracy and turning India into a totalitarian state. Fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19, 21 and 22 were suspended… The newspapers quickly began to toe the government line… The most alarming aspect of the Emergency, as this book so vividly narrates, was that Indira Gandhi managed to demonstrate how easy it was to misuse the Constitution and convert democracy into a constitutional dictatorship. In this journey, she seemed to have picked up some clues from Adolf Hitler…”

Continue reading “A Scorpion Curled”