I keep my Facebook timeline ‘sanitised’ by avoiding people who post gory images of injuries and deaths. These images disturb me and keep my mind occupied for days. One such picture popped up on the timeline a couple of days ago – of an injured police officer being assisted by his colleagues during violent clashes in Asansol in the eastern state of West Bengal.
I could not ignore this picture as there was something very cruel about it. It was gory, it was bloody and it was shocking. The officer, victim of a bomb attack, barely managed to stand on his feet. His expressionless face surprised me because he should have been in severe pain. But the intensity of the blast apparently left him stunned and he didn’t seem to be feeling anything. He should have felt it, the blast tore through his hand, a chunk of forearm muscles were gone, exposing bones and cartilages.
The image had shaken me and kept me awake till later hours on Sunday. The following morning, I discovered his name - Arindam Dutta Chowdhury, Deputy Commissioner of Police. A report said his hand was gone and doctors are considering amputation.
Chowdhury lost his right hand to mob violence.
Think about it.
An officer who was simply doing his job lost his limb to madness fuelled by politicians. The incident happened on a day considered holy by Hindus in north India. Ram Navmi, the birthday of Lord Ram is celebrated with processions and Pujas in most states of northern India. However, for the last two years, the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, aiming to get a foothold in West Bengal, is sponsoring processions of worshippers carrying weapons, including swords and tridents.
Thanks to the BJP, the festival is now celebrated on a scale that was not seen just two years ago. Early this week, these marches were held in several cities of the state, once a stronghold of the Left and now ruled by a feisty woman leader. Cadres of the BJP and affiliated organisations held weapons and shouted provocative slogans in violation of official orders.
Over two days, violent clashes broke out in several towns, leaving people dead and injured.
Chowdhury was one such casualty. His job was to ensure that peace is not disturbed and official orders were followed. Instead, someone threw a bomb at him.
I don’t know Chowdhury’s age but in the picture he appeared to be in his early forties. He belongs to Indian Police Service, a cadre of officers selected through a tough national selection process. Successful candidates spend years preparing for this exam and only the best of the lot manage to crack it.
It is not clear what happens to such officers who lose their limbs in the line of duty but Chowdhury is now forced to stare at the stump and spend months of rehab.
A bright young officer lost his right hand for what and why -- questions that are haunting me since March 24.
I wish I could extend my right hand to help him in any way.