The lady holding the scales of justice wears a blindfold to signify that justice is blind and cares little about the accused person’s status. But in India, when it comes to people’s response to crimes, it seems who you are matters much more than the crime. After the Supreme Court judged that actor Sanjay Dutt, son of yesteryear stars Nargis and Sunil Dutt, and brother of Congress MP Priya Dutt, would serve a five-year sentence for possessing dangerous weapons, deafening protests followed.
A former justice, Bollywood stars, sundry politicians and the media, all rushed in to complain that the sentence was too harsh for a “lovable” man. Most people ignored the gravity of his crime with the argument that he had been punished enough already. The government, to its credit, has withstood the onslaught thus far.
Compare this with the case of Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali. They are currently in prison after they surrendered earlier this week outside Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai. The crime of this married couple: singing songs and holding cultural programmes that send out anti-caste and pro-democracy messages. Moreover, the police have accused the couple, both of whom are post-graduates from Pune University, of having links with Naxalites.
Please note, they have not been accused of possessing assault rifles. Yet, the state’s heavy handedness in dealing with such crimes, where one can be held guilty by mere association, is well known.
What is truly tragic is the people’s silence. Sathe and Mali are children of impoverished peasants, who are struggling to change the lives of some of India’s poorest and most deprived people. It would seem that is reason enough to ignore them while seeking clemency for Dutt. The people, sad to say, are blind
- PRESS RELEASE – Kabir Kala Manch Members Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali court arrest (kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com)
- Amnesty International Appeal – Arrested theatre activists at risk of torture (kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com)
- Kabir Kala Manch- Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali ‘ Satyagrah not Surrender’ #Videos #KKM (kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com)
- “Even SC has said that mere membership of a banned organisation is not punishable’ (kabirkalamanch.wordpress.com)