Monday, July 17, 2017

Justice for Jeet

Who is Jeet? What justice does he need?

If you have any of the above questions on your mind, or maybe even a single question mark about the intent of this Blog, congratulations! You indeed are a target audience for me today. For my singular aim is to make you think. Not just because I believe that our thoughts are often the prerequisite for, or rather, a precursor to our actions, but also because I hope that the pen is mightier than the sword, and the readers who get to read what the pen writes, the mightiest.

So dear mighty mind, lend me your eyes, for I wish to introduce you to Jeet, yes, the same one in the title. So here goes…

Jeet is my cousin sister Paulami’s brother-in-law. Or in other words, my brother-in-law Dheeman’s younger brother. He is the dedicated son of Kakoli, the nephew of his loved uncles and aunts, the uncle of our nephew Hridhaan, a trustworthy friend of many, and a dedicated employee at TCS. 

Jeet or Dushtu, as he is naughtily referred to, loves to spend time with his family and his friends, be if from the locality where he grew up in - Paikpara, his college - Heritage, where he got his MBA from, or with his bandmates from his musical band which he hopes will one day fulfill its shared dream of being known to one and all. There are three other things that Jeet loves – Biriyani, travel, and bikes.

Sorry, I should have been more accurate about what I just said. It should have been ‘loved’ instead of ‘loves’, ‘was’ instead of ‘is’, and ‘hoped’ instead of ‘hope’. Because everything I described was true once, but not anymore. Because Jeet is no more.

On 5th August 2017, he would have turned 29 years old, but that it seemed was not to be. He passed away on Sunday evening right next to his bike, a few minutes too late for a get-together at the three storied house where his maternal uncles lived, at the end of the narrow lane in a North Kolkata locality. He never did get to have the Biriyani that was prepared, or discuss any of the plans about where the entire family of uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, and nieces were supposed to go to next (Himachal Pradesh, etc). Because life it seemed had other plans.

One of which included four friends getting drunk. And then, one of them deciding to drive a car belonging to his rich and influential father, in a narrow lane of a North Kolkata locality that they belonged to. The same locality where a gentleman had severely reprimanded him for driving rashly just two days back. But what mattered more was their plan and their brand new car.

The car rushed towards a three storied house outside which stood a young man waiting for his cousin to throw the keys to unlock the gate, even as his brother and sister-in-law were on their way to join him and the others for a family get-together.

There was a terrible crash as the car crushed the young man into the gate puncturing his lungs, even as his family just a few feet away screamed in shock. And even as the young man breathed his last, and neighbors from the locality rushed to the spot, the occupants of the car ran.

The son later surrendered to the police claiming that he was not behind the wheels. Instead, he had left the ignition on, and one of his 'friends' might have driven the car, finding the keys in it. The rest of these 'friends' are nowhere to be found. There was soon a posting of the Police in front of his house, even as the family of the young man who had rushed him to RG Kar Hospital were told that they were too late…That Jeet is no more.

A Parliamentary Committee has already reported that Drunk drivers causing death should be tried for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and an accident caused by drink driving should be treated as a planned crime and not an act of “negligence”, as is the practice.

But then, can someone whose Blood is yet to be tested for Alcohol consumption within 12 Hours be proved to be under the influence of alcohol? Can someone possibly rash drive in a narrow lane where cycles are the norm, maybe bikes even, but rarely cars, and too an Eeco? Can a car possibly crush a man onto a gate that lies by the side of the road, and not its end? Can someone really end up getting Police protection for themselves, while the victims are left to fend for themselves? And finally, can a simple purported ‘harmless’ accident cover up a motive that may never quite be revealed? I don’t know.

All I know is that this is no case of random strangers losing control along a highway or a main street thus causing the death of a passerby, co-passenger, or pedestrian. This case has more to it than meets the eye. But with every passing moment, it seems to be heading towards an open and shut case where lack of evidence might lead to a trivial sentence, or worse - acquittal.

This Durga Puja, Jeet was all see to celebrate the release of his first Album with his friends and family. Instead they have been forced to release sentences to the Media, while he looks on, merely a garlanded photograph. He will never see a movie again. Never experience the joy of visiting a new place. Never know what it feels like to get married to the love of one's life, or for that matter, the joys of holding one's own child in his arms. Jeet would never sing, never laugh, never cry, and never ever get the joy of having a dream that might one day get fulfilled - because someone decided to present the Ghosh family with their worst nightmare - His Death.

A life has been nipped in the bud, be it through an irresponsible accident, a carefully planned murder, or an act of intimidation gone wrong. But there is a way to set things right – through Justice being served. But for that, there has to be more minds that think, and even more voices who demand for the truth. Only then can we finally get to know how and why exactly Jeet Ghosh died on Sunday, 16th July, 2017.

Media coverage of the Incident is as follows:

Times of India

The Telegraph

Anandabazar Patrika

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Chutney With Chetan: Celebrating the Literary Value of Bhagat Extraordinaire

Congratulations India! 

Under the 'Popular' Section of Literature, along with Agatha Christie (Murder on the Orient Express), JK Rowling (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone), or Louisa May Alcott (Little Woman), the English Literature students of Delhi University may actually have to also study Chetan Bhagat (5 Point Someone).

Chetan's inclusion is a no brainer though, and probably as essential to the literary scene as Chutney is to a Samosa. Why, you ask? Read the following explanation carefully then:
  • Agatha Christie is already dead, and her book is about a boring old person trying to find out why another boring old person is dead. Like seriously! Who would care to read or even watch a film made on this book anyway? Wait - there is already a film, and it has also won an Oscar? Maybe! But did it win a People's Choice Award? Or an MTV Award? No, right? So who cares? When it comes to Chetan however, we can always seek inspiration from his books and analyze how students think in IITs. That's more helpful, right? Also, Christie's book seems to be set on an 'Oriental' Express. Hence it will obviously be infinitesimally better to consider an Indian instead (of China).  Hence, no 'Chinese Whispers' for me please, and Chetan it should be!
  • JK Rowling is meant to be read only by children. I saw Harry Potter when I was a kid. And anyway, there is nothing to understand in this book filled with strange words like 'Alohomora' and silly names like 'Snape'. What? You call such words inventive creativity, and the name is derived from that of a village? Please! Its fantasy, right? I would rather read Chetan and find out more about what educated Indian intelligent boys fantasize about! Ooh! I am excited even thinking about the depth of his analysis of the average Indian's mind. in '5 Point Someone' he had the hero Rancho actually date the Principal's daughter - Kareena! No wait? Wasn't that the movie '3 Idiots'? Whatever! It still happened unlike Harry Potter which is not based on anything real at all! So why read that and waste time?
  • Louisa 'Whatever Whatever' is a silly name that people will be unlikely to either pronounce or spell correctly. On top of that, its a story that propagates American values. After Trump trumping the elections, who needs THAT? Also, the book is very very very very very very old. There is nothing fashionable about it. In Chetan's books on the other hand, everyone wears good clothes and sings melodious songs. Yes, I saw the film, I am sure there are enough descriptions in the book as well. Also, it has great dialogues, good looking protagonists, inspirational success stories, and extraordinary humor. Does 'Little Women' have that? No! Also, Chetan's books are so much more slimmer! It can easily be read the day before the exam. So why not?
So, to all those high strung individuals who seriously feel that its criminal to include the brilliantly popular bestselling author, columnist, scriptwriter of such 'original' remakes as 'Kick', not to mention past 'Nach Baliye' Judge in this list, I ask you to sincerely consider what Roosevelt once said: Every society deserves the criminal it gets.

Happy World Book Day (Or Maybe Not!)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Maggi is gone... but thanks to Amish, reading must go on!

I just lost my favorite snack to a nation-wide ban/company recall, Ram Gopal Verma's staunch support for Maggi notwithstanding. And this got me thinking. What is the one thing from childhood that I can’t ever do without?

The answer, dear readers, is reading a book seeped in mythology. I have always loved the myriad mythological tales that every Indian worth a sane grandmother can be proud of, with some able support from Uncle Pai and his weapons of mass attraction - the Amar Chitra Katha series and Tinkle. In the process I have grown to love Mahabharata, Jatarka Tales, Panchatantra, et all! All save one - the Ramayana.

The shortest epic of them all, in spite of comparisons to Iliad (or Odyssey, if you may) has been to me more of a never ending TV show that was better left unwatched on Doordarshan or anywhere else it’s even worse dubbed version was playing.

If Mahabharata was 'The Lord of the Rings', Ramayana was merely the cupboard to the world of Narnia, or for that matter the rabbit hole of 'Alice in Wonderland'. Something that, while doing nothing by its own, simply made you enjoy what was to come later.

In fact, I had almost lost hope of ever falling in love with an Indian origin mythological book till I found out about a distinguished gentleman called Amish while coincidentally reading a book by Jodi Picoult on the same subject - The Plain Truth (to be dealt in a later post, provided I don't get any death threats or worse Candy Crush requests!)

By the time I had completed 'The Immortals of Meluha' and the other two books of the Shiva trilogy, I was eagerly awaiting Amish's next. Not just because the series was a heady mix of sound research, racy storytelling, impeccable yet easily understandable English, and that rare quality that makes fiction timeless - imagination, but also because Amish showed incredible promise. I could not wait to read his next!

Which is why I felt almost dejected when I heard that he was going to work on the Ramayana next. 'What in the name of Lord Ram was he thinking?' Or so I thought until I saw the book trailer which looked nothing like anything Ramanand Sagar had ever done. 'Could this book be judged by its cover?' I wondered, even as I began to read the 3rd chapter of the book courtesy some very powerful connections (BTW, the sample chapter is also available for a free download on Amazon).

I have been full of nervous excitement ever since. For this isn't Ramayana. This is so much more! Every single thing that made his previous series a delight to read has been magically amplified in this one with one more thing added - incredible detailing. If you think you know this story in and out, you will be in for a pleasant shock! Nothing is like anything in 'The Scion of Ikshvaku'. Here the story literally flies off the pages aided by a spirited quartet of narration, action, art design & set decoration, and costume design. If this was turned into a screenplay of a Hollywood film, the chapter by itself would have walked away with multiple Oscars!

If a chapter can hold so much promise, how will the book be? I don't think we really have any doubt about the answer to that, do we? All I can say is that this book deserves to be read. No wait - it deserves to be binge read till the wee hours of dawn, along with a bowl of whatever will take over the space now left vacant by the disappearance of Maggi!

I have already pre-ordered the book and I strongly suggest you do too. The presence of MSG and lead finally made our favorite snack seem like a hardened criminal. Don't let preconceived notions ‘lead’ you into believing that you might just be better off watching the film, many years later. Read the book - NOW - and pray that Westland publishes the next in the Ramachandra series soon...

Watch the trailer here: