My dear friend Ms. Amita Paul, a former IAS officer, conscientious and combative when in service and deeply socially engaged even in retirement, in- boxed me a long post: "Our Missing Mamta." It is a Crie de Coeur, so to say, which disrupted my sabbatical from Facebook.
There could not be a more appropriate caption for a society which has lost its feeling pulse, whose pulsating heart has gone into a state of cardiac arrest, a society which has generally lost its way in the impenetrable spiritual and moral darkness all around, where pedophilic pleasure becomes regular fare for those in the first circle of power or maybe, the privilege is available throughout the concentric circles. You just have to remain connected.
Mamta is one of the 34 girls from Muzaffarpur shelter home who suffered it all, who could spill the beans, who could complicate matters for both the investigative agencies and those whose names could be thrown up, has gone missing. But, for the details, read Amita herself. I do not want one bit of the pathos to be lost in paraphrasing.
"Perhaps I was wrong. The darkness around has now been interiorized. We have become morally blind and the society is yet to write its moral code - in Braille. Or perhaps we have regressed to barbaric times - a curious feat in itself, because the arrow of evolution is a barbed arrow, it does not go back in time - a time when the human male could ravish anything female, before taboos about incest and children had been internalized in our psyche and become powerful inhibitory controls. Which other society would permit a continuous and custodial rape of its children some of them aged seven and ten for possibly days, weeks, months or years?"
While we are recovering from shock, comes the news that Deoria shelter home for the hapless, helpless, waifs also functioned as a seraglio. Patna and Hyderabad from beyond the state were in the news for this very reason. Suddenly something which had been going on for years but brushed under the carpet, became the media flavour of the season (of that later!). And wait, a girl alleged to have disappeared from one such shelter home has returned, one and a half years later, with just one kidney less!
Brajesh Thakur is merely the symptom of a society that has become immunodeficient. AIDS is as much a medical issue as a socio-political one. Both relate to infamous histories of illicit liaison. In the case of AIDS afflicted individual, it is his promiscuous carnal past. But when the society freely and indiscriminately co-opts people reputed to be corrupt, conspirators and criminals into positions of power and influence it, people who were outcasts, lepers of the moral order only till 50-60 years back, invites this deadly retribution. If AIDS is the punishment for the violation of sexual taboos by the human victim, the miscegenation, the cohabitation of crime and politics, corruption and illegitimate power begets these midnight children who are the new threats to society: they render its defence mechanism defunct.
Police is charged with the general responsibility of preventing all crimes, but there were dedicated agencies, committees, departments, NGOs, the whole arsenal of institutional safeguards deployed by the state to protect its children. They have failed. All of them! Year after year! Bureaucratic barbarism is not a closely guarded secret. Nor is police apathy, cynicism, and heartlessness but what about the neighbours who heard the nocturnal cries of the victims and pulled their blankets more tightly over their heads so that their collective conscience was lulled into sleep and did not cry "hold, hold".
But this is the limit of this conceit. A person suffering from AIDS is afraid to be ‘revealed’. He tries to dissolve his identity into a non-person. His family goes in hiding. That is why there are strict institutional safeguards for protecting the identity of the victim. The other one does not let you forget his foundational crimes which secured his entry to the political fold. No one for a moment suggests that the photographs of the gentleman with bigwigs is in itself any proof of their complicity, but let no one, but no one, deny the strategic value of these photographs in building up a larger than life Brajesh Thakur before whom the law of the land gawks; uncertain of its powers or purpose.
A society which has become immunodeficient finds itself helpless in face of every invasion, every malady. Because everywhere, in every way the sentinels have been compromised. It cannot procure its defence equipment vital to the defence of the realm, it cannot ensure free and fair examinations, recruitments, and it cannot build bridges that hold. Its institutions gradually disintegrate and decay. If you want confirmation, look up the conversation on the social media and the risible contempt with which the takeover of the case by the once respected, feared, and credible CBI has been greeted!
India Today magazine once referred to Manoje Nath, a 1973-batch IPS officer, as being fiercely independent, honest, and upright. Besides his numerous official reports on various issues exposing corruption in the bureaucracy in Bihar, Nath is also a writer extraordinaire expressing his thoughts on subjects ranging from science fiction to the effects of globalization. His sense of humor was evident through his extremely popular series named "Gulliver in Pataliputra" and "Modest Proposals" that were published in the local newspapers.