a black hood on his face, another masked man beside him, a gaggle of beaming policemen by their side. press photographers at hand clicking on demand. and a familar headline accompanies the photo - naxalites caught. it could have been terrorist caught.
the dishevelled clothes give an indication of why the masks - probably bruised/cut faces after a round of questioning. the wounds need to be covered. thats not part of procedure.officially.
the headline would have passed. except this time, in equally large type size, the headline screamed, bandra boy.
the tone of the article- imagine, good, middle class bandra boy involved with 'them'.
and then the name- a familiar name- a friend from college. yes, it was him.
and that kicked a couple of us into action. we feared the worst- torture, fake encounter. we shot of letters here , there and everywhere. we hoped, and the media picked up the story. friends of bandra boy fear the worst.
and ofcourse before we knew it the press was not tracking his case- did he depose in front of the magistrate- the lawyer tells us he complained of horrific torture in the first week. the press was not tracking that story- they were tracking us- so what kind of a boy was he in college- are you shocked - do you have photos of 'happier times'. his wife's photo? she was a college friend too? the questions suited some juicy-scandal-story.
no, the story was not about tracking what happens to someone arrested on charges of being a naxalite/terrorist. does that person have any rights at all? or now that he is 'suspected' of being anti national its acceptable to beat the crap out o him and bump him, his family, any witnesses off.
the story did not cover- what group is he a part of- is it a banned group- what are the charges- what evidence do the police have.
but the press did report that a police search at the wife's house yielded evidence- 23 books of sociology!
and what did the hooded man have with him, a bunch of protest letters and some a roy's writings.
and while the press circus continued the police issued a statement that any friend supporting the accused even verbally would be arrested. the last time i checked we lived in a democracy. and what would my house yield- maybe more than 23 books of sociology!
this has been going on for two weeks now. the anxiety about him continues. and the complete helplessness. but he was a bandra boy. he had middle class friends who can atleast express outrage.
hooded faces need to haunt all of us. even when names are not familiar.