Son of a Gun

It isn’t the act itself, which is no doubt abominable, it is the ease with which it was done that is worrisome. Three masked men on a motorcycle, blocked an SUV as it slowed down at a speed breaker and shot the occupant at point blank range. A total of six bullets were fired from an illicit weapon, two of which hit the victim, injuring him fatally.

8E84B019-FC5D-41E5-9944-74004C62748BWe witness such incidents all the time, in movies, or hear about them happening in far off lands, traditionally involving drug lords,  mafia and crime syndicates. It’s shocking that this happened in the sleepy, small town I grew up in. More shocking is that it was executed in broad daylight. The most shocking aspect of this sad saga is that the shooter was not a gangster nor was the target. The prey was a amiable doctor of great repute, the perpetrator was his disgruntled ex-employee. 

The killer was a novice, a mere greenhorn in the big bad world of crime. A misguided youth, out to settle a score. Venting his anger, mistakenly thinking that the doctor was responsible for his joblessness and resulting misery. That he decided, and successfully executed  this heinous crime, tagging along two equally clueless friends is worrisome. This should serve as a wake up call, not only for the administration, but for us as a society. 

We may dismiss this as personal vendetta but the problem is much deeper. The idea to snuff out a life is a grave one. A society which allows such thoughts to take root and an inept governance which makes it possible to act on such an impulse is  a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

As I watched the killers being paraded in front of the media, noticeably absent was any sense of remorse.  The prime suspect declared that he felt no regret for his deeds and I wondered about the making of this murderer. Out of curiosity I visited his Facebook page and there he was in all his glory. Posing with his friends, sullenly looking into the camera. He could have been any of the cocky, neo- rich  youngsters that roam on newly bought vehicles. Living off ancestral land, not by tilling  it, but by selling it. Apart from some thinly veiled comments about revenge, one of his update reads “ behtar ko inaam milta hai, behtareen par inaam hota hai” ( the good win prizes, the better have prizes on their heads). I wonder how such a person  is allowed to own a gun. Although an unregistered gun was used for this crime. He owned one  duly registered by the state.

Also noticeable was the police barely hiding their self celebratory grins. They had indeed solved the case in record time. But doesn’t a smart city entail smart policing, both predictive and preventive.  To avert  crimes before they happen, to stay ahead of the criminals.  While they are busy catching and punishing the big fish in the murky waters of crime, the small fish are thriving.  By the law of natural progression, wayward youth who indulge in petty crimes will graduate to more sinister deeds if not stopped. 

There was a time when social pressure, family ties and the oft heard “log kya kahenge”, was enough to rein in the unruly.  Religion, spirituality and “ankh ki sharam” used to play a role. As we get more and more involved in the digital world, interacting with people we never meet, we know less and less about our actual neighbors and their lives. We are bearing the cost of this disconnect. 

A career in crime is becoming a reality. A quick, lucrative alternative to the slow and tedious way of earning a legitimate living. Things can only improve if this swamp is drained dry, eliminating the breeding ground for evil. For this fear has to be instilled in the minds of the public.  Statistics reveal that the conviction rate for homicide  is abysmally low.  It  is in fact easy to get away with murder. 

So should we hang them to make a point? To set an example. I don’t really know. I don’t think it will help. In my humble opinion certainty of punishment works better than it’s severity. Which means that everyone pays for their wrongdoing irrespective of their status or stature. Mantri ka bhai ho ya santri ka bhatija everyone should be made accountable for their actions.

( published in my column in the Tribune on 20/7/2019)


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