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Hanging in there 
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Illustration: Bhaskaran

It's one of those weeks when I am a bit stuck for a topic to write on. Don't get me wrong, it's been a fairly affluent fortnight, with a wealth of events, anomalies, circumstances, incidents, tragedies and news stories that accumulated in the last 15 days. And with such a bounty of topics at hand, I am trying hard to choose which ones to address.
Well, Ajmal Kasab was hanged. I am still ambivalent about my own views on capital punishment, but it was a bit creepy how every news channel suddenly seemed full of blood-thirsty, vendetta-driven, intolerant tit-for-tatters. I felt like saying, “It's not a revenge game, it's the simple outcome of law.”
Worse than that were those who took Kasab's hanging from the nauseating, “I am feeling so sad”, to “He was brainwashed”, to “He was so young and handsome”, to the political trump card, “Now what about Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru?” “Yippee, can we have another hanging?”
All this, of course, was equalled when I called up my co-conspirator Cyrus Broacha to chat about the hanging and the intolerance.
“Cyrus,” I said, “Did you hear the news? They hanged Kasab.”
He replied, “I called to speak to him, they asked me to hang up!” 
“Seriously,” I said, “They transferred him out of Arthur Road first.” 
“Yes,” was the reply, “No more could they have him hanging out at Arthur Road.” 
“No, seriously,” I continued, “It happened at Yerwada.”
“Yes,” he continued. “That's in Pune. You drive down Nagar Road, and hang a left!” 
“It took the courts and the cops four full years,” I tried making sense.
“Sure,” he went on. “They gave him a long rope!” 
“And what a hush-hush operation, not a whisper of news,” I insisted. 
His prompt reply, “I suppose no noose is good noose!” 
“Hang on, hang on,” I cried, “Stop the jokes!”
“Got you, my friend. Don't stop the jokes, humour is the first lesson in tolerance.”
Which brings me to the next piece of news that hit us this week, the Palghar Facebook Arrests. Two young girls arrested for a Facebook remark? And a relative's clinic trashed? It's the Oscars for intolerance. Or if you are optimistic, it's a marked improvement in our police force since the Kasab trial. Our police response time has surely improved. From four years to hang Kasab, to four minutes to hang a couple of teenagers. Kudos.
And my final word on tolerance. The Ponty Chadha case. I honestly don't care who shot whom. But this is not a case of intolerance. The man, Ponty, a liquor baron worth ∃9,000 crore. An alleged friend of Mayawati and former chief minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh. It is actually a case of tolerance. How the hell did they tolerate it. How the hell did he tolerate it himself? Thank God the poor fellow is gone. I would have killed myself 40 years ago, if I was named Ponty!
editor@the-week.com

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