“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Immortal lines from German pastor Martin Niemöller, in a scathing commentary against the intellectuals’ inability to rise against the Nazi purges.
Unfortunately, though not quite a fitting parallel to Niemoller’s invocation, after reading about the Hyderabad ‘encounter’ on Friday, I was tempted to asking myself: ‘Shall I keep quiet, until THEY come for one of my family members?’ ‘They’ as in those beasts who were involved in the rape-murder of the young Hyderabad medic.
Make no mistake, this is in no way an attempt to justify extra-judicial killings. The rule of law must prevail and there’s really no debate on that count. But the point is, if the slow-grinding wheels of India’s judicial system repeatedly keep coming in the way of handing out speedy and exemplary punishment to those who commit such barbaric acts, then a time will come, and it perhaps has come already, when ground-zero support for extra-judicial killings will gain social legitimacy in India.
Just think about it: It’s been seven years since ‘Nirbhaya’ died a gruesome death and yet the convicts are still waiting for their mercy pleas to be decided upon! In the meanwhile, in the past 11 months, there have been 86 reported incidents of rape in Unnao alone — that’s just one little town in the Indian hinterland.
The ‘encounter’ in Hyderabad has questions of ethics and legality sticking out like sore thumbs, but the time has come to do something to instil a sense of fear in the minds of all those beasts who think they can get away with violating a woman. It’s all too easy to sit back, philosophise and give nuanced opinions about the ills of bypassing the legal system. But just ask yourself this question: What if the next unfortunate person happens to be someone from my family or someone I know ...? Will I still be giving nuanced opinions or clench my fists?