Sunday, May 28, 2006


Fanaa- the latest offering from Yashraj Films- isn’t at all unusual: the tale of ‘a pair of star crossed lovers’ is as old as Time itself. Come to think of it, even the movie’s plot isn’t novel: profligacy of films depicting die-hard militants redeemed by their all-consuming love for unsuspecting would-be partners- who epitomises the syncretic nature of a now forgotten 'Kashmiriyat'- constitutes a distinct contemporary Indian cinematic genre in itself. In this context atleast, the shroud of secrecy surroundig Fanaa’s release- its producers remain remarkably tightlipped about its story- seems wasted. Does this mean that one shouldn’t go through the trouble of seeing it?

Well, that depends on whether one watches a film simply for the novelty of its plot or for the way it is told. In Fanah’s case, it’s the telling of the tale that counts. Yashraj is Bollywood’s Cupid: Hindi cinema’s unsurpassable- if somewhat mischievous- god of love. Not surprisingly then, the onscreen chemistry between Rehan (Aamir Khan) and Zooni (Kajol) is simply delicious: prolific use of Urdu couplets - at once flirtatious and powerful- as the characters woo each other amidst Delhi’s majestic medieval ruins during the film’s first half gives their romance an aura of timelessness. Even historical inaccuracies can be forgiven: it wasn’t Shahjehan who compared Kashmir to ‘heaven on earth’ but his father Jehangir. And speaking of fathers, I think Rishi Kapoor is wonderfully restrained as Zooni's doting father. It would be a pleasure to see more of him.

Fanaa's problem lies with its second half: the whole issue of counter-militancy is tackled in a rather cosmetic manner. Even Tabu’s casting as a RAW (it’s no longer called that but who’s keeping score?) officer in hot pursuit of Rehan- who despite his character's calculated cold-bloodedness retains our sympathy throughout the film simply because he comes across as someone who sincerely believes in what he does- does little to make it convincing. The action- most notably a high-adrenalin cat-and-mouse chase cutting across an icy glacier- is reminiscent of sequences from what could well be a James Bond film.

Fanaa's political message is far more 'liberal' than any previous film: militancy effects both India and Pakistan; and Kashmiris have been betrayed as the promised referendum never took place. That may not necessarily be true: Sheikh Abdullah, the most popular leader of the Valley, was decidedly pro-India at the time the instrument of accession was signed with the then maharaja Hari Singh.

Despite these minor flaws, Fanaa is a good film: after all, it is at heart a love story. And both Aamir and Kajol (making a comeback after five years of marital absence) keep the screen sizzling. If for nothing else, one should go and watch Fanah for this. Dev Kohli, the director, has given us yet another treat.

AJ Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Friday, May 26, 2006

ESSAY: (A) On Raipur


Recently, while browsing through a website, I happened to listen to an audio recording of an interview given by the prominent journalist Mr. Lalit Surjan. When asked to surmise Chhattisgarh’s performance over the first five years of its existence, he made a rather succinct observation: “the ‘intellectual class’,” he lamented, “is silent.” However, the maddening silence of the intelligentsia constitutes only half the picture. The fact is infinitely more troubling: the total absence of debate in a state inhabited by over twenty million people indicates a fundamental lack of ‘collective conscience’ (a neo-psychoanalytic phrase adapted from Carl Gustav Jung’s somewhat mystical concept of collective unconscious). Are we- and here, I use the ‘we’ in its broadest possible sense comprising both the so-called intellectuals as well as the non-intellectuals- so self-absorbed with our own personal problems that we summarily overlook- even dismiss- those confronting the community?

Not too long ago, Ms. Arti Dhar, the then state correspondent of The Hindu, decided, admittedly against my advise, to use her state-awarded Chandulal Chandrakar Fellowship to research Raipur: the result was ‘Vignettes’, published by the Department of Public Relations. Despite the non-serious title, this book remains unique as the lone post-colonial successor to the antiquated District Gazetteer (last updated in the 1930s). A cursory reading of the book is enough to arrive at the frightening conclusion that Raipur is, for better and worse, all history and no culture. Or to be more precise: whatever culture there might have been was swallowed-up by the mushrooming City. Much like Sir VS Naipaul’s account of Indonesian, Pakistani and Iranian Islam, the city of Raipur is quickly erasing its past; but unlike these, it has failed to create- even through wholesale mimicry- its present. Consequently, this city exists in a space-time void.

To illustrate this, allow me to allude to two examples. A daily dose of dozens of deaths less than two hundred miles away evokes at best nonchalant pity: tribal bodies blown into thousand bits signify no more than a statistic: a dazzling newspaper headline, a Vidhan Sabha Q&A. Four years ago, I casually suggested to a grandson of a former chief minister that we- he and I- should both study Chhattisgarhi. Given that he harbors political ambition, I found his refusal mind-boggling: “Chhattisgarhi,” he politely told me, “is for the maids.” Today, such a reply would be deemed ‘politically incorrect’. In this sense atleast, one can speak of some progress: our rulers are finally beginning to realize the value of belatedly learning to speak- if not speaking- in the vernacular of those they feel they are born to rule. Cumulatively, both these instances point to a rather dismal state of affairs: one, a vast majority of our population, especially those residing in the rural hinterland, have- given the asymmetrical urban-centricity of popular media- no established channels for getting their voices heard; and two, the elite- including the intelligentsia- aren’t really interested in speaking-out.

Before I came to be domiciled in Raipur Central Jail- the past ten months of incarceration being the longest I’ve stayed in one place- there was no love lost between the city and me: indeed, my view of it mirrored Herr Gunter Grass’ infamous four-letter worded description of Calcutta (now: Kolkata). Not so anymore: the Raipur I’ve come to love, and feel a part of, lies within those garish red walls: the city of convicts. Suddenly, I see its manifestations in all sorts of places I’d never cared to notice before: in the loud greeting of a rickshaw puller, as he boisterously waves his hands at me; in the empty eyes of sun-scorched bodies perched atop pavements as the world moves around them in furious dizzy; in the deafening silences I hear everywhere I go. Yes: ‘I once was blind but now I see’. If only others like me, could do- and feel- the same.

The new state is much more than a politico-administrative entity: it is an Identity-in-the-making, which requires constant supplies of dialogue. The prison-wall, to me, is an objective metaphor for everything that prevents the two worlds- the world we live-in, and the world we happily ignore- from listening to, and understanding, each other. Gram Suraj- Dr. Raman Singh’s well-meaning program to reach out to the villages- does not encourage this dialogue: the impression is of one-sided communication. The chief minister, and his cabinet colleagues, sky-hop from village to village promising state-largesse with great fanfare: a road here, a building there. By the time Maina- the state-Eurocopter’s- rotor-blades come to a standstill at the Police Grounds, Chhattisgarh’s over twenty thousand villages and Panchayats are once again enveloped in an omnipresent silence.

Again, it would be unreasonable to put the blame for their absences squarely on the shoulders of governments, both past and present: governments, as a rule, rarely meet people’s expectations, which is why we have democracies, which allow us to routinely replace them. Indeed, the citizenry’s role does not end with pushing a button on the EVM: to hold governments accountable, it is necessary to make the constantly changing ‘will of the people’ known to them at all times, and not just during Assembly debates and elections.

A lot more needs to be done: Dialogue, Debate, Dissent. But the dialogue must take precedence over all else: without it, we- the so-called elite- are reduced to making empty noises in comfortable conference halls and seminar rooms; any debate we engage in is of purely academic interest and quickly forgotten; and dissent becomes restricted to polemical propaganda and dense, often sermonizing, editorials. Ofcourse, the elite- the urban-based, educated section of society- is expected to take the lead simply because they are better placed than the rest to do so.

Sadly, that is an obligation that we in Chhattisgarh have failed to fulfill.

After ten months of watching weekly Sunday-afternoon films on a black & white television monitor, it was only prophetic that the first movie I should see after coming out is aptly titled ‘Rang de Basanti’ (Colors of Spring). Despite its sad ending- all its protagonists are killed in a staged ‘encounter’- the message is clear: a call to arms for the disillusioned youth of India. Not surprisingly, media-commentators were quick to see the already cult-classic’s not-so-subtle influence in the midnight torch-lit processions to India Gate, protesting variously the Jessica Lal judgement and Mr. Arjun Singh’s Reservation proposals, and in favor of the NBA (Narmada Bachao Andolan). The notable feature ofcourse is not so much the relocation of the site of protest- in this case, from Jantar Mantar to the more scenic Raj Path- as the fact that unorganized youth- who have nothing in common except their cause- almost suddenly dislodged organized socio-political outfits, who, compelled as they are by quintessential ‘votebank’ considerations, haven’t quite figured out what to do.

Raipur, not surprisingly, is a late entrant to contemporary Reservation Resistance (or Mandal-II): it was only after the Indian Medical Association called for a nationwide strike that our city-doctors decided to do a protest-march of their own. In this sense, one can’t really compare the Raipur strike with those of other metropolises: unlike its counterparts, the dissent here has been organized: a strictly formal response to a national call, lacking spontaneity. It is almost as if people elsewhere shouted us into waking-up. This is precisely what I mean by the total absence of debate in a state inhabited by over twenty million people [which] indicates a fundamental lack of ‘collective conscience’. Here is an issue that directly concerns the so-called elite (urban-based and educated component of society); and yet, dissent is diffused rather than indigenous.

Can we then be blamed from not taking up causes that don’t seem to directly concern us: the killing fields of Darbaguda where fifty tribals were blasted to smithereens while being herded to attend a Salwa Judum rally; rampant rural electricity-cuts making it increasingly impossible for farmers to irrigate fast-perishing crops; a spectacular 70% supply-determined inflation by the state’s cement cartel that has affectively crippled the housing and construction industry; the pathetic condition of tribals, who have- in the words of the hon’ble home minister- become ‘refugees’ in their own homelands, now kept in makeshift roadside ‘camps’; escalating land-costs fuelled by black-money pumped in by yet another cartel of government ministers, which has made the dream of living in a home of one’s own even more distant for the common man; the Kunkuri paddy-purchase scam where atleast two-hundred crores worth of non-produced paddy was purchased by the state government through ‘mandis’, then transported in non-existent trucks to be milled in non-existing rice mills to be stored in state-operated warehouses for redistribution to rural-workers engaged in non-existent food for work programs, to name only a few?

What will it take to wake us up from this unending ennui? Well, I can’t speak for others but ten months in jail- experiencing life stripped off all its colors, in the banality of black & white- makes it quite simply impossible for me go on living as before, turning a blind-eye and a deaf-ear to what is so obvious and altogether so real. Responding to a message I had posted on, one commentator responded thus: “an intimate experience of the police, courts and jails in india should be mandatory for any one aspiring to work for the poor in this country. and so amit’s stints in this regard are a good apprenticeship and he should in fact advise other young sons of high profile politicians … also to get the cbi to file charges against them and put them into jail.”

Despite the inherent witticism of this comment, an irrefutable point has been made: in order to truly awaken, it is necessary to rise above and look beyond our own particular conditions, to slip into others’ skins, and to share in their sufferings even if we can’t do a thing about them. With every passing moment, the walls grow higher: the more I think of it, the less commonality I find between the two worlds separated by these walls, which exist not so much outside Raipur Jail as they do in our own minds. The consumerist-culture based as it is on an ever-widening sense of individualism- notice, for instance, the break-up of families as children immigrate to ‘greener pastures’ in search of a better lifestyle- creates a chimera of false-comforts, and justifies hedonism through an all-encompassing denial of others’ miseries. The tendency is all the more pronounced in Raipur: a city in constant rush. In all my five years of my comings and goings, I haven’t come across one person who boasts of belonging to Raipur: most of the more prominent residents are only too happy to trace their roots to remote villages in distant states. The term ‘Raipuriya’ or ‘Raipuriyan’- whatever it is one would use to denote a citizen-inhabitant of the state’s capital- is simply not fashionable. That has to change.

Any civic society is founded on a sense of pride that comes from belonging to a place: it becomes as much a cause for celebration as it offers a reason for cultivating a sense of responsibility. More than anything else, Raipuriyans need to take pride in this city: its awful sounding names (Tatibandh); its haphazard streets and utter lack of traffic-sense; its incredibly fertile sense of imagination reflected in a Mephistophelean culture of bizarre gossips and rumor-mongering; its penchant for hiding dirty-secrets in a way that quickly becomes talk of town; the dilemma of its exorbitantly rich, torn as they are between a compelling desire to indulge in the most vulgar displays of wealth vs. the equally compelling need to hide their growing prosperity from omniscient eyes of political-aspirants and income-tax inspectors behind multistoried walls; the almost biological urge to be seen at the right places with the right- the rich & powerful- people; the tendency for gross exaggerations which has become second-nature to most (something in its water, I guess!). All these are quirks: traits that stereotype a city, and give it character- much like a person’s personality.

The peculiar problem with Raipur, then, is that it is an isolated island inhabited by numerous insular, self-sufficient islands, none of which seem to communicate- let alone interact- with each other. For instance, families form themselves into tidy little groups united by common neighborhood, business, caste etc. This is only to be expected. However while most cities provide spaces and opportunities for these groupings to come together and overlap- say at cinema halls, public parks, theatres etc.- we have a relative paucity of these in Raipur. Infact, even public spaces have become places to buttress an island’s- group’s- distinct identity: Chhattisgarh club has become the haunt of the bureaucracy while businessmen frequent VIP club. As the city grows rapidly, so does the isolation. What is needed therefore are forums where ‘people from all walks of life’ (forgive the cliché) can- if necessary, by rupturing the hitherto self-contained self-sufficiencies of socio-economic caucuses- be brought together. For instance, wouldn’t it be nice if some of our industrialists took time-off to be with convalescents at the Mekahara hospital, or with the inmates of Raipur Jail even? Or if our college-students decided to spend their summer-holidays not gallivanting on the Mall in Simla but in a not-so-distant village, basking in the flavors of rural life? And maybe for once, we could dispense with the Governor’s XI vs. Media XI type of exhibition cricket matches, and instead try one between Chief Minister’s XI vs. Rickshaw-pullers’ XI?

For the past one year, a dear friend of mine had been banished from Raipur to Raigarh to supervise the setting-up a sponge-iron plant. I asked him if he had made any new friends. He categorically told me ‘no’: all his friends were fellow sponge-iron plant industrialists! I don’t blame him: he has, after all, lived in Raipur all his life. Contrast this to what I discover everytime I visit Raigarh: the number of people who are ‘close friends of Navin Jindal’ increases in geometric proportion. It is not for nothing that Raigarhians boast of their city as ‘the cultural capital of Chhattisgarh’ (a claim strongly contested by Bilaspuriyans), which incidentally, is fast torpedoing into its ‘industrial capital’ as well.

Isolation is a two-way street. The more Raipuriyans isolate themselves from those around them as well as each other, the more isolated they themselves will become: the right of Raipuriyans to rule the state, conferred as it is by a piece of legislation, will fast lose its moral basis. Unless and until we learn to speak- and listen- to those around us, and to each other, we might soon find ourselves sitting on a surmounting hill of gunpowder, much like Nero- who is famously (if somewhat wrongly) depicted as playing his lyre while Rome burnt- before the cathartic fall of the Roman Empire.

All it will take to set the whole thing aflame is one tiny spark.

Amit Aishwarya Jogi
May 18, 2006
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Return of the Prodigal: Villain or Victim?

Note: This article was first posted as an informal response to an ongoing discussion in the webforum chhattisgarh-net. It was later translated into Hindi and published by the Raipur-based newspaper "Chhattisgarh".

Frankly, I am surprised at the number of comments posted consequent to my arrest about ten months ago: the topic, which posits a linkage between my Papa’s ‘pro-poor’ stance and my incarceration, is itself somewhat fascinating insofar as it encourages a rigorous contextual ‘rereading’- or what the post-modernist might call ‘deconstruction’- of what has been published in mainstream media. Allow me then to contribute, albeit belatedly, my own version to that now-forgotten debate.

Upon my release a few days ago, I was asked ‘how I felt?’ It is impossible for me describe ‘the agony and the ecstasy’ of ten unending months in ten quick seconds, which is the about the time the electronic-media is likely to allot to a ‘jail-bird’ like me. Yet, ten months is a long time- almost an eternity- to put things into perspective: the sad solitude of the seven by ten feet high-security prison-cell allowed- perhaps even compelled- me to indulge in philosophical introspection as well as analytical observations of the Carceral life, both of which have found their way into a four-part Jail Dairy, four plays, quite a few poems and drawings. Someday, they will be published and the reader will gain an insight into the ‘punctuated transformations’- the waltz between nature and nurture- that have molded me.

Whether I am a victim of high political conspiracy, or whether Justice has finally caught-up with me is not for me to say, atleast not right now when the matter is subjudice. What I do know for certain is this: I am being tried for the murder of a person whose name I hadn’t heard before; and the consequences of whose death have been equally if not more tragic for my family as for his. Despite assertions to the contrary, however, the fact remains that in India, we still uphold the view that ‘a person is guilty until he establishes his innocence’ when infact the opposite- ‘a person is innocent until he is proved guilty’- constitutes the bedrock of civilized jurisprudence.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has chargesheeted me for plotting the murder of Mr. Ram Avtar Jaggi, the then state-treasurer of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), in an unspecified room at the Hotel Green Park, Raipur, on the night of 21st May, 2003, before atleast fourteen other persons, including the bureau-chief of the Times of India. The details of this meeting, as stated in his courtroom evidence given by Mr. Reginald Jeremiah, who has been my friend for over a decade, is as follows:
(a) Between 10:30-11 p.m., I telephoned him and asked him to bring Mr. Law Kumar Mishra, state correspondent of the Times of India newspaper, to Hotel Green Park. He then called Mr. Mishra, picked him up from the Times of India office, and duly drove him to the hotel situated on the Raipur-Mahasamund highway.
(b) Upon arriving at the said hotel, they (Reginald and Mr. Mishra) found me in a room, engaged in discussion with twelve persons (who he can identify) as well as others (who he does not remember). Mr. Michael William and Mr. Mr. Arjun Bhagat, of Akash Channel, suggested that news coverage of an NCP rally, scheduled for 10th June 2003, be curtailed; Mr. Raj Awasthi, also of Akash Channel, recommended that buses, taxis, jeeps etc. be blocked from being hired for the said rally.
(c) During the course of this discussion, I advocated the murder of Shri Ram Avtar Jaggi in order to foil a forthcoming NCP rally scheduled for 10th June 2003. To this end, I asked Reginald to call one Mr. Chiman Singh, who was already present in Raipur. Accordingly, Reginald telephoned Mr. Chiman Singh on his mobile phone, and asked him to come to Hotel Green Park.
(d) After Mr. Chiman Singh arrived, I asked everybody else present to leave the room. Only Mr. Rohit Prasad, Chiman Singh and I remained inside. When we came out of the room, Mr. Singh had a bag in his hand.
Apart from the above-mentioned statement, the CBI has no other evidence, direct or indirect, to establish my alleged complicity in the murder of Shri Jaggi. As far as Reginald’s statement is concerned, the following facts need to be noted:
(a) Reginald did indeed telephone Mr. Mishra at around 10:30 p.m. on the night of 21st May 2003, as has been proven by the call details of his mobile number submitted by the CBI; however the agency has failed to supply the cell-site plans of that mobile number, which would provide the exact cell-tower locations (within a radius of 1-2 kilometers) of not only the number from which the call was made but also, more significantly, the number to which that call was made. In this case, the cell-cite plan categorically shows that Reginald called Mr. Mishra at the date and time specified in the CBI chargesheet, but Mr. Mishra was not at the Times of India office at Raipur; infact he was in Patna. It follows from this that Reginald couldn’t have possibly picked him up and brought him to the Hotel Green Park, Raipur, in compliance with my alleged request.
(b) The General Manager of this hotel- who, it needs to be emphasized, has not been declared hostile by the CBI- has stated in his deposition that the first time I went inside the hotel building was after 15th July 2003, when a floor had been rented by the Congress Campaign Committee for electioneering. Reginald also doesn’t seem to recall the room number, or the floor on which it was situated, or even its size. Furthermore, both Mr. Williams and Mr. Bhagat, who allegedly suggested that news-coverage of the rally be curtailed, were not in Raipur from March-July, 2003; and infact on this date, i.e., 21st May 2003, they were in the United Kingdom, as can be verified from their passports, immigration seals issued by the Government of India as well as Her Majesty’s Government of Great Britain & the U.K., passenger-manifests, credit card transactions, hotel reservations etc.
(c) Reginald has stated on oath that after deciding that Shri Jaggi should be murdered, I asked him to call Mr. Chiman Singh. Accordingly, he called Chiman Singh’s mobile from his mobile. The call details submitted by the CBI do infact show one single call between them on this date, but on closer scrutiny, it has been proven that this call was made by Mr. Singh to Reginald, and not vice-versa, at 9:37 p.m., i.e., before the so-called meeting had even started.
(d) The meeting reached its culmination allegedly when I asked everyone present- except Chiman Singh and Rohit Prasad- to leave the room. However, even Mr. Rohit Prasad was not present in India on this date. Like Mr. Williams and Mr. Bhagat, he too was in London. As in their case, this can be verified from his passport, immigration seal issued by the Government of India as well as Her Majesty’s Government of Great Britain & the U.K., passenger-manifests, credit card transactions, hotel reservations etc.

Accordingly, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court, while granting me bail, has observed that Reginald’s statement is ‘too tenuous and unreliable’. Likewise, his Lordship has also pointed out that Reginald had a ‘motive in implicating the applicant (me) falsely since he was fired from Akash Channel by Rohit Prasad and expected applicant to intervene, which he did not…’ Furthermore, while examining the other evidence on record, the following finding was also pronounced: ‘from the evidence adduced, it cannot be proven that Ram Avtar Jaggi was murdered by Chiman Singh and therefore the story of the prosecution that the applicant conspired with Chiman Singh to murder Ram Avtar Jaggi presently stands shattered…’

Be that as it may, two questions still remain unanswered: first, how could these gross discrepancies in Reginald’s statement be overlooked by the nation’s premier investigative agency; and secondly, why did Reginald tell such ‘white lies’ in Court, making himself liable for perjury?
I shall answer the second one first. Reginald has stated that he came to court on 16th March 2006 by the Delhi-Raipur flight (IC 869) of his own accord while categorically asserting that he was not brought in CBI custody (which under section 171 of Cr.P.C. is illegal); he has also stated that the CBI Special Prosecutor and inspector were sitting on the two seats adjacent to his but curiously enough, he discovered that they were working for the CBI only when he entered the courtroom. The passenger-manifest of the aforementioned flight does not bear Mr. Reginald Jeremiah’s name. The seat on which he sat was booked on the non-transferable ticket of Mr. M. Narayan, DIG (CBI), who was already present in Raipur from before. Then, there is video-footage of Reginald being escorted out of the Raipur airport surrounded by CBI personnel; subsequently he was taken to the CBI camp office, where he was detained till 4 p.m.; afterwards, he was produced in court accompanied not only by CBI officers but also armed personnel of the Raipur Crime Squad, who formed a cordon around the witness-box even as he testified. Also, barely three weeks after he had recorded his judicial statement in May 2005, Reginald moved into a new apartment costing approximately rupees 25,00,000. Not surprisingly, he refused to furnish details of his source of income citing ‘security reasons’.
Now, as far as the first question is concerned, the answer will be given in the course of my defence in court. Suffice it to say that several factors were at work, which together give credence to the topic that was debated in this forum: “Jogi’s son arrested because of his father’s ‘pro-poor’ stance”. Whether my father was pro-poor or not is a matter of historical debate, but what is certain is this: his detractors, some of them from within his own party, saw in me the ‘soft-target’ they could attack to destroy him by proxy. Two significant proofs have already been produced to support this thesis: one, an audio recording of a candid conversation between Mr. A.G.L. Kaul, the Investigating Officer of CBI, and one Mr. Raees Siddiqui, the brother of an accused. In this conversation, Mr. Kaul does the following:
(a) He confesses to having fictionalized the chargesheet on paper;
(b) He alleges that the court works under his directions atleast with respect to granting pardon in return for becoming approvers;
(c) He admits to having send an unspecified amount in cash to Raees’ house; and
(d) He offers ‘4-5-10’ Innovas to his interlocutor in order to entice his brother to turn approver for the prosecution.

Two: the close relationship between two IPS officers vis-à-vis Mr. Geelani, who took over as SP (CBI) incharge of this investigation in April of 2005, and Mr. Sabu, who was then posted in Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh. During that month, seventeen persons, including Mr. Chiman Singh, were arrested from Bhind for allegedly having murdered Shri Jaggi, almost two years after the CBI had commenced its reinvestigation. Infact this breakthrough had been achieved in December of 2000- more than three years before Shri Jaggi’s murder- at a quaint little forest rest house at Achanakmar on the Bilaspur-Amarkantak road where Mr. Sabu, who was then a probationer posted at Bilaspur, was honeymooning with his newly-wed wife. After suspecting that they were being spied upon, he personally flogged the chowkidar and his entire family with his belt. My father, as Chief Minister, had ordered a judicial inquiry into this incident; and Mr. Sabu was found guilty. Now, as it turns out, Mr. Sabu and Mr. Geelani not only hail from the same place (Kashmir), practice the same faith (Islam), went to the same schools but also that they were in the IPS Academy at Hyderabad at the same time. Not only that, they have kept in regular telephonic touch since then, especially during and preceding the arrests of these seventeen persons- most of whom are boys in their early 20s- in April 2005. There are simply too many ‘coincidences’ to ignore the fact that I am a victim of their collective vendetta.
Other documentary and digitalized evidences, painstakingly collected over the past ten months, will also be presented during the Defence to demonstrate the working of certain officers of India’s premier investigative agency, their extra-legal influence on other branches of government and administration, political directives, and continuous nexus with certain other persons in high places. It should be worth noting that subsequent to the release of the audio recording, Mr. Kaul has been removed from his assignment as IO of this case although as of date, no investigation has been ordered into the contents of that recording even though he has not denied that the voice on that tape is not his.
It would not be proper for me to reveal anything more at this juncture.

I know that the battle is far from over. But I am now of the firm belief that this suffering has saved me: without living in prison, I might never have experienced life in black & white, stripped of all its colors. Without doubt, it has made me realize my own role in this world: it is futile to live for myself. Indeed, there can be no greater service to Man and to God than living for others, especially those who are not as fortunate as I am. How this learning will manifest itself in my life, I cannot say. Only time will tell. Yet, this is the goal towards which I shall continually endeavor for the rest of my days.

Amit Aishwarya Jogi
May 16, 2006

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JAIL DIARY: Parts One and Two: April 29- July 8, 2005



April 29, 2005
Tomorrow, I return to Raipur , possibly my first visit this year: as always, it gives me little cause for celebration- people who gave this urban necropolis a certain degree of humanity shall remain conspicuous by their common and several absences, and the city itself shall take on the tenor of J’accuse. Still, how can I forget that the day itself, taken out of its miserable habitation, is by far the most precious of all? When I do ‘look’ at Papa- and I mean really look, not just see, which to me is an unconscious act, the involuntary function of the eye- I feel blessed, undeservedly so. To be born into such self-made greatness can be overpoweringly humbling: to be measured up against that which is surely immeasurable, and in my case, to be universally acknowledged- nay, condemned- as the sine qua non of his myriad miseries that Life- Fate, Destiny, God- reserves for a chosen few. Rationally, it might be possible to convince myself otherwise. But Reason is for the weak-minded- ah, the painful Paradox of Providence!
No: despite protestations to the contrary, I cannot but help feel passionately about Papa: he has become- and biologically speaking, always was, is and will be- the Essence of my Existence. Gladly would I sacrifice myself for him to be able to walk once again. I imagine those legs spring to life as the firmness of their musculature resolves to produce gallant, majestic strides: lo, he resumes his place at the avant-garde:
Ekla chalo
And others follow.

I visualize the musical-imagery: Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. The primordial lake churns, giving birth to Life. And it pains me to realize that this is one gift I cannot give- and the one gift he yearns for the most. What I can try to give him instead is Hope: I’m told that it is an elixir that works magical wonders.

May 2, 2005
Verily, I rejoice at this unfolding Tragedy of Errors & Gross Miscalculations: from a myopic distance- a luxury I haven’t quite attained- it may even be a simulacrum of Comedy, with all the noble-minded souls blundering through the business of life. I can’t remember when the witch-hunt began: it would be prudent then to assume that I (part now of an abstract ‘we’) invited this Inquisition upon myself; or was this part of some divine plan, a further comedy? ‘For forty years Thou kept me wandering in the deserts…’ One day, I shall look back at this scribbling, and laugh at it, its sheer absurdity:
But literature- that shrewd and insatiable chronicler of human foibles, desires- has already recorded for posterity my hopeless anguish in ways I neither have the time nor flair for: I am now become Josef K., in ‘der prozess’ of being tried for crimes I know not of; except that K. was an island, the extreme-representative of human alienation in a Weberian (bureaucratic?) age- and I am not. I watch in increasing, anticipated horror as men I have known are marched down the gallows. It is the waiting- the ceaseless, slow gnawing of the soul’s fibres, helplessly witnessing them wither, peel-off bit by bit by a surmounting uncertainty- that is so intolerable. In the background, I hear my enemies snigger. Oh, what fate is this to die so many, many times in a single existence! [Death, when it does come, shall not be a novelty: this is perhaps my only respite.]
And how does one categorize this- fleeing, absconding, holiday, exile, banishment, refuge, quest for a safe-haven, a hiding-place…? I am I, and this is this: the time, the place, the person. All are discernable, quantifiable, tangible, discoverable entities, so surely this isn’t- can’t be- running away or hiding? If anything, I am running and hiding from myself…

May 4, 2005
1.1 I find familiarity in strange places: the language, the customs- even the sense of shared histories- paradoxically reinforces dialogue: in not knowing, I understand. That is the truth: it exists without reference to, and independent of, all social construction; it is eternal, ethereal: timeless, without time. Perhaps this is what the Sage meant when he diagnosed thus: the more I know, the less I understand. In the Information Age of today, there is some merit to be found in this archaic truism. The ever expanding, increasingly menacing web of information (also: communication, the transmissions of information) suffocates my freedom, my sense of privacy, my understanding. My very being begins to dissolve. Infact there is only one thing more lamentable than the excess of information: it is the absence of it. On closer analysis, the present dilemma puts me inexorably in both these situations simultaneously: of excess and absence, a confounded conundrum from which there seems to be no escape.

1.2 Am I so self-obsessed as to have forgotten the plight of those that suffer for me as well as those others who strive tirelessly so that I may not have to endure further sufferings based on falsities? The shame of it! The only justification- meek, I admit- to be offered is this: I’ve never seen these significant others as different from me; we are all- you and I- the same; ‘one species’, as Czeslaw Misolz, the Czech poet, put it. This sense of excessive self-identification, I inherit from my father; but while he applies it to abstractions- the state, for instance- I do so for real people, made of real flesh and blood and bone. It makes the pain- the agony and the ecstasy of it- so much more cathartic: life’s little moments become one unending finale of a cumbersome, somewhat accurately prophetic, and tearful Greek tragedy; all the myriad characters brought together by a still invisible design begin to die, little by little, slowly; in the interregnum, their faith- in themselves, their gods, each other- are subjected to gruesome-grueling tests; the bondage twists the bonds- the savage multiplicity of bodings, broodings and bondings- beyond recognition: humanity reduced to a tiny crucible of gnarled metal, the wiry tissue of an inanimate soul. [Papa, with his lovely-lovable abstracts, is thankfully spared the fullest onslaught of this torment: it becomes subtle, diffused, and both mistrust and faith are applied universally, indiscriminately into a system of thought that embraces entire worlds.]

1.3 I’m confronted with visible evidence of treachery: a testimony given under duress- of Law, Family, whatever- that will necessarily be misconstrued as further, direct proof of complicities. What should one do: forgive and forget; turn the other cheek; forgive, ‘seventy times seven’? The Biblical precedence is clear, non-debatable. Yet, I cannot but curse myself at this grotesque folly: one individual, blissfully blundering through life, has- in Destiny’s artful hands- the power to destroy so much of my civilization; and to have overlooked in my nicety this incredible fact is quite simply unforgivable. So: while I’m now- or will be in the due course of time- prepared to forgive him, perhaps even forgetting what I have forgiven, leaving him to God’s Greater Judgment, I cannot do the same to myself. I have come face-to-face, mano a mano, with my Judas! Will my God spare me the finality of Crucifixion; or must my blood be shed, transformed into rubies? Did not our Beloved Christ become victim of the politics of his day? Ah, the Megalomania resurfaces its ugly head: such Vanity! Lord Forgive me:
‘Et tu Brute’
Then fall Caesar.

May 7-8, 2005
An Unfinished Travelogue
1. Scarcely the time to be in Chennai; yet, for altogether different reasons, I find myself making this long, sweeping journey from the centre of Vidharba, on the steaming, plateaued road cutting though Telengana- the NH 7- to that strange country that lies beyond the Vindhyas, and farther still, on a magical highway perched precipitously alongside India’s southernmost eastern seaboard, to the Sacred (Minor) Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. In between, I meet wondrous people, sample boisterous food and catch glimpses of incredible cultures and civilizations scattered across space and time.
2. What perplexes me most, much more than the incomprehensibility of this place, is the sense of familiarity- also, freedom- I have come to have in this alien world, where I neither comprehend the dialects (the spoken words), of an altogether varied linguistic descent than my own, nor appreciate fully the subtleties and nuances of ‘Dravidian’ cultures. There is however no doubt in my mind that the people here are more civilized than anywhere in the north: their approach to life is so much more constructive. Ofcourse this is a gross generalization, an over-simplistic stereotyping of an entire region and its inhabitants, and what is worse, by an admittedly non-proficient authority on the subject.
3. The little legitimacy of my claim is based then on two premises: first, my six-year long schooling in the Nilgiris; and secondly, the totally detached, objective perspective I can bring to bear as an ‘Outsider’. [Notice, how these premises contradict each other.] Perhaps then, the reason lies in a more universal Truth, and has nothing to do with my own peculiar experience: - the relation between knowing and understanding becomes inverse. The less I know, the more I understand, and vice versa. Hence this sense of familiarity?
4. To begin with I must submit a record of my peregrinations, a trajectory thereof, these past few days: (unfinished)

May 15, 2005
It’s all here, crystal clear: the Signs & Portents of Fall. Papa’s illness- his brutal confinement to a wheelchair coupled with the necessity of being out there, in public life, makes his deficiency, but also his incredible superhuman fortitude, even more agonizing not only for him but also us [I don’t know about Mummy: she remains an enigma; her calm exterior, when it comes to other people’s problems, can very easily be mistaken for a steely-nonchalance, even a sort of basking in a pretentious halo of selfless charity of the dutiful wife of a handicapped warrior, the miserable mother of a miserable criminal-]- well, Papa’s illness is only a symptom- an anatomical metaphor- of this family’s- an aborted would-be dynasty, really- coup de grace: it is sudden, to be sure, missing none of the elements of catharsis, but also painfully slow in its unfolding termination: a candle smoking procrastinatedly before its final extinguishment, its hazy white taking an eternity to metamorphose into grey, and then a million other shades before it is consumed by the primordial blackness of the Night. The one thing that sustains us through this lamentation is the ever-present Hope: hope (a hope-psychosis?); a belief in magic; a miracle that will put an end to Reason; an experience, wished-for, yet totally contrary to all present and past evidences. In retrospect, it appears that the signs were all there, as were the noises, loud and clear; only we chose to be deaf-blind-mute, confusing Power with Permanence. Oh, the Fools’ Fall! A sort of morbid complacency set in, enduring even after the end, imparting everything with a certain bitter aftertaste. Now: I feel as if the same morbid, moronic complacency has returned, to haunt us: Papa chooses to believe- no, hope- because that is perhaps the easiest way out, but ‘when the cocks come home to roost’- and I pray that that day and hour never come, calling upon all my reserves of Faith as also my Creator’s infinite capacity to forgive (no, not for a sin I did not commit but for which I’m now perhaps to be charged)- I know what he will say, as he has so often in the past: “we will face it.”
Only there will be nothing left to face.

May 18-19, 2005
This sad season is unending: a ceaseless epoch of polite miseries and discreet mishaps. The family survives despite the cracks, which are only too visible; and I am punished for no particular fault of mine, except those in my mind…friends, in order to survive, abandon me; some remain, but there number dwindles with every passing day: I recoil, preparing for- and half convinced of the logical inevitability of- the ultimate Doom; my only complaint, if I am allowed to make it, is that it has been too long in the making. The one thing that sustains me is Hope: a dying body’s expectation of immortality: the serendipity of a healing that may- or may not- come.
Tomorrow is another day, and I might not be here.

May 20, 2005
Each passing day brings in its stead sad tidings of diminishing hope, edging us towards desperation: we’ve been here before, a thousand times over, never for once anticipating return, but such is its magnetism, a whirlpool of bloody mishaps: Destiny’s Quicksand…that the ‘comings-back’ now seem inevitable, as if the escapes were only an illusion, and this, the only reality. Each time we convince ourselves of having learnt from the Lessons of History, not realizing that in India, histories are cyclical; a devious contraption that brings- to use Anu’s elegant phrase- ‘the end back to its beginning, the beginning back to its end’, disallowing deliverance; an infinite time warp caught up in infinity.
Again and again, I cannot but help feel like Josef K. (the image never really leaves me), facing Trial for a crime I couldn’t have committed.

‘Like a dog.’

June 19, 2005
Monday, the twentieth day of June 2005: a date that will forever transform the shape of things to come; the ‘archaeology’ of my existence, to use Foucault’s term from ‘les mots et les choses’, depends on the decision one man- a human being, just like you and me, who is now chosen by Fate to judge my fate- makes; perhaps he has already made it- having dictated it to a sleepy stenographer?- but I have no way of knowing. Will he act on the basis of evidence presented- all pointing to a menacing conspiracy built upon the inexplicable and reckless vengeance of an ‘intelligent fanatic’- my Prosecutor, who has for the past year or so ‘lived’ me- and the collective cowardice and treachery of those I had once trusted with my life- or will he be influenced by the systematic campaign of slander that has been mounted over the past four years to defame me? My Prosecutor’s overtures seem false: his apparent cry of helplessness- of having to follow Orders from an enigmatic Above- cannot hide the secret pleasure he must feel at my persecution, the fact of ‘having cornered me’: perhaps he is deluded into believing, like all fanatics, that his crusade is both moral and justified. I have become his raison d’être. In another week or so- ten days, at the very latest- he shall confront me, finally. He knows more about me that I do; but his knowledge is limited to the painstaking re-documentation- or more precisely, caricaturization- of my past- the things that happened in it, what I did, who I met and spoke to, where I went- and all of it confounded by a precipitate-consolidation of false perceptions: a misconstrued cognito. I shall not question the facts; the words he has put into the mouths and testimonies of others, by means of enticement and brute force, I cannot support for they are falsehoods uttered with the sole objective of implicating me; the presumptions about my personality- who I am? - I will do my best to destroy, to reclaim something of myself.
The rest, I leave to God, and the precious few instruments he has chosen for my deliverance.


June 21-26, 2005
Exegesis: It began with a dream, not mine- ah, to think that even my dreams are not my own, but plagiarized: it is Rahul’s, my sadistic-Savior: in it, he saw ‘us’ supplicating before the Dargah of Moinuddin Chisti, the blessed Sufi saint who established his khanqah at Ajmer sometime at the close of the twelfth century A.D. Despite the latent eroticism embedded in the ‘us’ I did not give much credence to it (notice, the dream transformed into object by the deployment of ‘it’; as indeed the object of our friendship metamorphosed- chrysallised- into something more…by the equivocation of ‘us’: the sweet treachery of words!) Now after enduring two months- sixty days and sixty nights- of increasing agony, the gnawing feeling of not knowing, I returned to the unfulfilled prophesy of Rahul’s Stolen Dream: accompanied by his fiancé, his younger sibling and his fiancé- and here I couldn’t but help feel like an intruder, albeit a welcome one- I made the eight-hour pilgrimage to Ajmer-é-sharif, and allowed myself to become a rather tempting receptacle of a vainglorious intercessor, an unscrupulous ‘gaddi-nashin’ who dislodged me, much to R’s sibling’s fury, of not insignificant amount of currency; however, even among the incessant chase and chagrin of beggary- without doubt among the most sophisticated I’ve witnessed even my excessive standards of religious piety- I felt my lament go out to the entombed saint who had sent his messenger- R’s dream- to summon me. A day later- my lamentation heard, my defenders freed from their unjust incarcerations, and finally a ‘way out’ in sight for me- we- Rahul and I, the quintessential ‘us’- returned to untie the thread that had symbolically bound the Saint to the fulfillment of our plea, and as is the wont of men everywhere, to tie another.
Having done so, I return to Delhi, the only city that refuses to disown me (while also not claiming me), to begin- or to be more precise, resume after an illusory intermittence- another confinement, whose abstractions I’m obliged to consign to these (yellow) pages.
My thoughts are a prisoner’s: to understand them, I read David Macey’s biography of Foucault- the patron-philosopher of the insane, illegitimate and the incarcerated- and see in his desires, the suffocation and abortion of my own. I long for ‘discontinuity’: the glorious act of ‘pasticide’ but I know now that that’s an impossibility: to do so would imply suicide, a thought that has increasingly come to occupy the interstices of my waking, pondering moments, my oneirocriticisms. One day, it can- and will- end: the end then, should it not be of my own choosing? Now, I’ve never sufficiently entertained Hegel in the sleazy art-deco, smoke-filled intellectual boudoir of my mind, which is to say that I am not a dialectician, to toy with the anti-thesis of this proposition; but neither do I consider myself a ‘determinist’ deprived as I am of the requisite fabric- composure- to arrive at Mitchell’s ‘pace, final certainty’: the “death of Death”. Writing then is the only means left to me to exorcise my several demons. Out they come, mocking me!
My descent (or ascent?) into madness has begun.

June 22-23, 2005
The day begins with arrival of provisions: a dozen eggs, bacon strips procured from an upmarket delicatessen, Kellogg’s wheat-flakes, Evian and milk; also a set of bath towels, (white, inadequately fluffy: ‘this,’ R’s eyes tell me, ‘is not a luxury trip’.) I feel rested but lethargic, lazy: ‘the man who went up & never came down from his third-storey abode’- an epitaph as good as any, so stuffed with multiplicity of meanings. Outside, the world moves on at its own banal and bewildering paces:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born. [Yeats]

10 a.m.: Mummy, presently in the act of waking up, reading her ‘Daily Light’, sipping lukewarm lemon water, her bai standing diminutively beside the Queen-size bed with a tray holding milky-chai, talking on the telephone with ‘the usual suspects’- her cowardly coterie of well meaning non-performers- about that which to me has become mundane, material, a malady of necessary thrifts; Papa, doing physiotherapy- his constant struggle against Fate- pausing to answer calls from all over, eyes set on unwavering ambition. The aura of routine too confers a sense of imprisonment; the calculated retreats of free will against the encroaching advances of fate: a mutiny against destiny. To be able to leave everything without regret in thirty-seven seconds, that is freedom; it is something I shall regrettably never have.
R, my captor-savior-sadist, comes in the afternoon: he complains of fever. As always he is in a hurry: the need of having to go somewhere, to meet someone, to do something is chronic: it sustains him; more significantly, it sustains me, allows me to be free while at the same time being his subject, his captive. I see him now: lying curled-up on the bed, a veritable chrysalis, dreaming his wonderful secret-dreams; his visage is peaceful, and yet I imagine it reaching out, going beyond the curtain that separates knowledge from oblivion, action from ennui: the resurrected ‘homo Faber’. His liking of me is instinctual- it has to be- for there cannot be- or atleast he does not equivocate- any particular reason(s) for it. [What I feel for him in this present moment must remain ‘beyond words’: in the explosive-muted world of non-words, the impenetrable Silence.]
Like all true friends, he enjoys his little torments, often resorting to clichés to portray me variously as elitist, diabolical, a gutless-heartless creature, vain et al. R is an amalgam of several molecular furies, each exerting itself against the other and collectively taking on the world at large: a one-man revolution inspired by Nietzsche (whom he has never read, and therefore understands fully): the pervasive tension of fear offers added excitement, an almost visceral incentive.

June 24, 2005
A brief respite in the form of a cinematic adaptation of the ghost-human love story ‘Duvidha’, followed inturn by a two-hour long grooming session- a late afternoon Narcissistic fiesta, really, partaken with R’s brother- at an unknown Salon, the decadence of gold polished faces- then, back to my Carceral life- the absences of communication from my convalescent captor intensifying the ‘lull’. I ponder over the efficacies of composing a brazenly irreverent erotica on the exploration of taboos: condemning myself as the patron saint of sins and sinners- and then retract, recoil, the thought impregnated into my Consciousness. Foucault is finished; now to Eco.
{The voyeur: impotency of platonic lust: pleasure as ritual, as staging sans authorship, as explanation for providential punishments, as guilt- internalized for present pathologies and future diagnoses- as feared as shame- the acute, pervasive possibilities of the externality of social denunciation and displacement to be contained actively through convoluted deceptions- as banal with reference to the ‘other’, as insipid and intrinsic to the process of individuation- the creation of the self- as craving of and for the phallus.}


July 1, 2005
It has begun.

July 2, 2005
[Sleep- wakeup at 8- bathe- have tea-]
My arrest competes with the Gujarat deluge for national headline. Nobody is surprised, least of all me. In the trial by media, I’ve already been judged. The timing of this particular ‘move’ couldn’t have been more strategic, coming as it does at a time when a Cabinet reshuffle is imminent. Without going through this- the ‘Inquisition’ so to speak- the ‘mystery’ cannot be fully unraveled. So in a way, this must be something of a blessing: in the long run, it gives me an opportunity to clarify my position, perhaps even state my humanity before my Persecutors, who appear completely convinced by the mythology of my demonization (this at a personal level), and in so doing, reclaim something of myself.
Ofcourse it will be a painfully long process, lasting several hundred days. I shall be shutout from the world, in a Panopticon all my own: the dialectic with visibility will become at once revelatory and menacing, as Foucault postulates in his history of prisons (incarceration).
In every story, there are facts, hard and cold, but how one sees them depends primarily on one’s perception: the manner in which the mind organizes their interrelationships, the motives and intentions attributed, all of which is a ‘constructivist’ mental exercise involving far more subjectivity than what is ordinarily presumed. The parable of the four blind men’s discovery of the elephant stands: each was correct in his description of the beast (a pillar, a rope, a spear, a wall) based inturn on which part of the mammal’s anatomy he felt (leg, trunk, tusk, abdomen). Yet everybody got it wrong. Here, placed under confinement, I too feel a bit like that elephant.

PATIALA HOUSE. What was to have been a routine hearing for transit-remand turned into high-drama: the media, chronically starved for news, contributed its bit. For me, the situation was somewhat precarious: well-meaning lawyers pitted against my present Custodians, who have been so good to me thus far, and I simply didn’t know whose side I was on. Perhaps this is my first step towards ‘institutionalization’? Ultimately, I found greater merit in my Prosecutor’s argument, which most significantly saved me from- or in any case, postponed- the embarrassment of going to Raipur, only to be sent back to Delhi.
I am now formally remanded into police custody (PC) till the 8th: six more days and nights. It is not something I’m terribly anxious about: everybody- friend and foe alike- must do their prescribed duty. Karma, as always, prevails.
What saddens me is thinking of the man who must silently endure this: Papa. If ending my life would help him attain his destiny, I would gladly do it…Lord, please don’t let me let him down. I know I never have in the past- despite what Saba Naqvi termed his ‘son-stroke’ syndrome- and if God is my witness, I never will.

MUMMY’S VISIT. Not since Anu have I seen Mummy so disturbed. Ofcourse, as always, she did her best to be outwardly calm, but I knew then as I know now that she has been positively shaken to her roots. She was the last person to expect this to happen: her God, after all, may be unkind but He is certainly not cruel. And what else is it if not outright cruelty to have her care for a disabled husband when her only son is locked up behind bars, accused of such an unimaginably heinous crime? Even though things just keep getting worse, the one consolation I have is this: that once the process (I prefer Kafka’s German phrase ‘der prozess’) has begun, it is bound to end eventually. In the realization of this eventuality lies the victim’s hope of- and for- redemption: ‘Like a dog’ incidentally were Josef K.’s last words before he was guillotined.
My own sense of helplessness has led me to put all faith in Fate: it is an admission of having lost all semblance of control over one’s life; of having submitted in toto to forces bigger and greater than any human device. Ironically this feeling does not lead to disenchantment, as I thought it would. Au contraire, it raises in me a new courage, which I had not previously known existed. The way to resurrection must necessarily go through Crucifixion.
Tonight- and over the next several days & nights to come- I shall be crucified several times over. That paradoxically will be the only way to proclaim my innocence.


July 3, 2005
I am a prisoner of language: living Tractatus. Wittgenstein’s got it right: bull’s eye. All evidence against me is reduced to language: conversations I allegedly had, and their material traces. Beyond that: conjectures drawn from the mythology of my demonization. Technology- ghost imprints of telephonic talk (whom I spoke to, for how long, when)- furnish further proof of alleged complicities. Ultimately this omnibus of mythologized communications comes down to my telling someone to take someone’s life. The very idea not only insults my Conscience but much more importantly, my Intelligence.
The more I think of it, the more convinced I become of the fact that my incarceration is a step-by-step manifestation of a self-fulfilling prophesy: at the very outset, my prosecutors believed I was guilty, and everything that followed has been- is- an effort to somehow corroborate this prophesy/presumption. Throughout all this, my role is that of Cassandra: condemned to see the future and yet helpless to do anything about it.
Not for me Emile Zola’s choppy tenor of ‘J’accuses’: the only one to blame for my plight is the creature called circumstance; all other players, following a Confucian path, do their duty. The missionary zeal with which things are accomplished underscores the autonomic force of Weberian institutions as entities unto themselves, an aspect that Papa, despite his better judgements, had not considered when he famously dubbed the Agency ‘the PM’s thana’. This, then, is their response: their defense, which forces recognition of the institution’s autonomy. Ofcourse it has and will in all probability continue to respond to considerations of an external nature- after all it does not exist in isolation- but what my confinement demonstrates is the ability of the Agency to project its will when, where and on whom it wants to, without reference to those extraneous considerations. A significant lesson, and at a stupendous cost to Papa and me personally.
Time, which is responsible for all the several wounds inflicted on us, will also heal them, by the simple act of its passage, something even it cannot avoid. If it does so, Time will cease to be time.

[T’s visit- ‘prepare for 20 days minimum after judicial custody (JC)’- did my best to sort out matters between K and him-] Happily ‘the news of arrest’ is now fast on its way out from the cacophony of breaking-news. Its banishment from public realm signifies my reinstatement into private life, whenever I return to it.

I have written copiously on the dilemmas of displaced peoples: exiles, refugees, emigrants. These I distinguish into two categories: those who nurture the promise of return, and those who do not. The latter, devoid of a sense of identity, generally function as parasites, concerned only with the selfish furtherance of their specific interests with no regard for their hosts, and therefore exhibit no civic sense. In serving exclusively this motive of self-propagation, they are no different from other animals. Ofcourse there are exceptions but in Raipur, I can tell for a fact that these are a rarity. K, my celebrated- and cerebrated- persecutor, does not belong to this latter category: he remains an archetypical representative of the former, and his sense of displacement- loss- never really leaves him. Wherever he may be, he will always be a Kashmiri Pandit first. The feeling of uprootedness, of having been unjustly evicted from the homeland, will be- is- immediate. It has never left him. From him, it will be passed down- like a secret heirloom- to his future generations. The sense of immediacy itself might become somewhat diluted but the yearning will remain: another diaspora is born. This background, in my opinion, is critical at arriving at an understanding of K. It helps explain his religiosity of purpose: duty as religion, work as God. To him, these are more than clichés: they are a way of life, perhaps the only way there is for any refugee- a displaced person- to sublimate his sense of loss and find acceptance, not only of the world but more significantly, of himself. Perhaps this also explains, to a large extent, the clandestinely irreverent attitude of his subordinates and peers, whose complaint- if one can call it that- is based principally on K’s refusal to see them as ‘persons’ but merely as instruments in a larger system. I do not blame him for this. After all, he doesn’t exclude himself from this all-encompassing mechanistic- instrumental- view. He would rather be judged on professional performance rather than any personal nicety or platitude. To a large extent, this can be said to apply to Papa also.

July 4, 2005
The Interrogation continues: it is subtle and lethal. The ‘trick’ is the oldest in the book: disarm the ‘interrogatee’, put him in a familiar- or atleast ‘non-threatening’- environment, and then let him talk. Familiarity, like alcohol, loosens the tongue: man’s best friend and worst foe, as Aesop surmised. My response- my only response- is best summed up in Wittgenstein’s (the philosopher never leaves me!) famous last words from his magnum opus:

‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.’

True to his word, the great philosopher said- and wrote- nothing more.

Among all my interrogators, I am fascinated by K’s boss: G. In particular, his ability to follow to the letter Herr Hitler’s advise given at the inaugural of Mein Kampf: ‘read the essentials, forget the non-essentials.’ This approach to life- call it the ‘no-frills approach’- enables him to be remarkably analytical, perhaps even devastatingly so. In this respect, he is like my principal captor K. The difference- vive le difference- lies in the fact that while the latter works persistently without regard for demands of time, the former becomes restricted by temporal considerations. Time constraint: the compelling urge to accomplish things within a given time frame. G’s approach to issues therefore comes across as politely-impersonal-no-nonsense. I imagine he is a good learner too, constantly imbibing from others’ experiences, as all good officers ought to. To quote Shakespeare, he is made of sterner stuff. I only wish that our interactions- even if they take the form of interrogation, as they inevitably must under the circumstances- might have been more frequent and direct. After all, there is so much to learn: to impart subjectivity to an obsessive objectivity which precludes the categorization of the world into black & white; the acceptance of color as incorporating shades of grey.

[Afternoon: 2 p.m.- speak to Papa-Mummy. Comforting.]

POLYGRAPH 1. 3-5 p.m. Three different psychological tests in the form of atrociously framed questionnaires. Whatever else may be said of them, they are an assault on aesthetics: the ‘higher-religion’. Factory-designed to calibrate stereotypes (extravert, introvert et al), criminal intent (inclination to break law, anti-establishmentarianism) and propensity for violence, nonetheless taken cumulatively, they appear rather dull. Their utility therefore is based on the framing of correct questions to elicit proper responses. The problem with polygraphs- why they don’t have evidentiary value- is quite simple. The element of subjectivity- since they necessarily entail interpretation- remains: ‘ask the wrong question and you will get the wrong answer’. What a polygraph looks for are fluctuations- supposedly involuntary- in critical and involuntary psychosomatic indicators such as blood pressure, heart beat, galvanic skin response, and perhaps even pupil dilation (I don’t think this last aspect is tested at the CFSL here although eyes, after all, are the mirror of the soul). In any case, I rather enjoyed the ‘draw-a-face’ test: for my subject, I did an Ajanta sketch of the Buddha’s face: placid vacant eyes, fluid economic lines, the look of inner peace and contentment. Hardly the stereotypical villain, I should think. As it happens, I am to make myself available for the final test tomorrow at 11 a.m.

[Dr. No comes in the evening: hardly a comfort, rather crude. R to go to Raipur tomorrow. Seems suitably charged-up. Both feel rather guilty for having unwittingly escorted me to prison. They should.]

This insularity prevents the realization that the world outside has changed:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
- WB Yeats

While previously people eyed me with feebly concealed suspicion, the fact of my arrest should now spare them the trouble of being nice. In this sense atleast, I shall no longer have to live with elaborately contrived deceptions: ‘the false face must hide what the false heart cannot’ (W. Shakespeare: Macbeth) will cease to be a compulsion- an etiquette really- for many. Henceforth the frank look of ‘j’accuse’ will be fully justifiable. Infact many, including my captors, see it as further- even necessary- qualification in the makings of contemporary politicians. They scarcely realize that this is a life I would not wish for my worst enemies. Subjecting oneself to constant public scrutiny- that more often than not takes the form of an unending inquisition- isn’t exactly my idea of happiness. Indeed given the choice between happiness and ambition, I would choose the former in a heartbeat. Politics inevitably involves the brutal strangulation of one’s personal and private life. I don’t have to look far to know what I am writing about: Papa’s life is proof enough.
The investigation does not function in isolation. The war in the media- subtle leaks, artful deceptions- is as much a part of it as the need for corroboration of evidence. The Game is being played out on multiple levels, and the legal paradigm is only one part, perhaps even a minor part. In the pack, it is not too hard to see who the leader is and who are being shepherded. Our imagined hierarchies are at best illusory. These are valuable lessons- lucubrated through a prisoner’s observation of the politics of the Panopticon- to be deployed in future struggles. Submission is not only a necessity. It has also become strategy. This might well be the only ‘constructivist’ lesson here. For the rest is all damned. The world outside is an abyss and the only way goes ‘up’.

July 5, 2005
POLYGRAPH 2. GSR (galvanic skin response) spikes all over the charts. Two more rounds before the verdict. The examiner’s look of ‘j’accuse’ doesn’t help either. Policy: hope for the best, prepare for the worst. It will be disastrous if the result is negative- something totally contrary to my understanding of Facts- especially since others who have been tested before me have passed with flying colors. Perhaps ignorance really is bliss.

If K- the pandit- is to be believed, my days change only post-14th. By the way, it appears that ‘en famile’ we- K, C and AJ- are all Leos: three lions in a jungle, which in this case is the two-roomed corridor of the CBI/SCB Territorial 1 wing, might be a trifle too much. Despite my better judgement, G- the dashingly mustachioed gentleman-officer- actually appeared somewhat human: seems to respond more to principles than logic, which led me to do the unthinkable…the estimation of his self-control…and lo and behold, full marks there as well. Charming even in crisis. Ofcourse his judgement of me hasn’t changed a bit. The scorn was- is- visible, plainly so: atleast he’s honest. No that’s not the right word: he is sincere, seeing my pontifications as elaborations of a bad liar.
What joy! Eventual confirmation of readership: the analysis of the analyst. My captors excavate this text for signs of context. Derrida is happy, no doubt (he is also dead). Soon these pages will be full of indecipherable scribbling and unread outpourings. Without the Reader, my lamentations are dead- stillborn- or at best, a Narcissistic mirror reflecting the torments of my soul.

Further proof of institutionalization: the growing dread of my next home, which must necessarily be Raipur Gaol.

While I am confined to my ‘cordon sanitaire’ in relative comfort, it is hard for me to ignore the fact that my fellow inmates include two alleged murderers and their accomplice: I’m informed that they have confessed (who doesn’t?) to two truck drivers’ double-homicide. Their accomplice, whom I had previously mistaken for an office errands-boy, is positively supplicant, his erstwhile disregard for human life now translated into an absence of self-dignity, a total surrender sans repentance. As for the rest: overworked-underpaid constables whose ghetto-mentalité is compensated by a paramount pride that comes from belonging to the C-B-I. It is the one solace that keeps them going.

July 6, 2005
POLYGRAPH 3. Terminus. As expected, the machines find my deception-quotient incredibly high, leaving only 0.01% for error. Curiously enough, they also found me deceptive at answering the so-called control questions (‘Your name Amit Jogi?’). What this tells me, more than anything else, is my innate inability to see anything in terms of strict absolutes.

Note: I am positively perplexed by DSP Mohanty’s (investigating officer of the Judeo case) self-professed love for Sartre. A cop inspired by Nietzsche’s Child defeats all comprehension!

MY LAST DAY IN CBI CUSTODY de Delhi. I’ve now been an inmate at the Bureau HQ’s for exactly one week. Seven days ago, at about 6 p.m., after the closure of office-hours and when almost everybody had left the building, K informed me of my arrest. His precise words were: ‘you will be needing the suitcase after all.’ [I had previously informed him about my preparedness to face the worst.] The decision, he told me, was taken at the highest level. There’s no telling what goes inside the ‘black box’ but the system is such that nothing happens without inputs- signed and stamped- from below. Circumstances had indeed reached the point of no return, and it was foolish not to see it: in retrospect, it would not be incorrect to say that we- Papa, Mummy, me- had become unwitting victims of Hope:

Thucydides, The Melian Dialogue, 103.
“Hope encourages men to take risks; men in a strong position may follow her without ruin, if not without loss. But when they stake all they have to the last win (for she is a spendthrift), she reveals herself in the hour of failure, and when her nature is known she leaves them without means of self protection…
“You are weak, your future hangs on a turn of scales; avoid the mistake most men make, who might save themselves by human means, and then, when visible hope deserts them, in their extremity turn to the invisible- prophesies and oracles and all those things which delude men with hopes, to their destruction.”

What rang true two millennia ago remains true now:


The days have passed by rather quickly: on the whole, they are uneventful, allowing for time to reflect and observe. K, my interrogator but also in so many ways my interlocutor, believes I am wearing a mask. He wants to know what the ‘real me’ is like. Which IO wouldn’t! I tell him that the mask- persona, in Greek- doesn’t always conceal. Au contraire, it reveals the human urge to project. Frankly, I wouldn’t know the real me even if it stared me in the face. To his credit, he has been generous, even in his ‘professional cruelties’. There is no other way to put it. Food comes from home, people I wish to see are permitted to meet me (albeit always under someone’s watchful eye), for much of the day I’m left to do what I like (needless to say, a constable- in the beginning, it was somebody of a more senior rank- accompanies me), nights are leisurely and I can watch television- courtesy C- if I want to (I don’t usually). I sleep on a carpet in an air-cooled room- C’s office- with home pillows and sheets (yes, it does get slightly cold), everybody- especially the guards and inspectors- are extra-nice to me (which only confounds my predicament) and whenever I am short on cigarettes, I can always rely on C, the in-house chimney.
In so many ways, my fear of what lies ahead- ‘the Ballad of Raipur Gaol’ (a take on Oscar Wilde)- has to do with the impending absence of faces I’ve gotten used to here on the second floor of the CBI building at CGO complex. In two days, it will be another place: a new world, strange and alien, even disturbingly so.
Most significantly perhaps, my perception of the Bureau has changed: it is no longer the demonic entity I had dreaded until only a week ago. The Grand Conspiracy- even if it exists only in my head- still remains but it is now populated with humans, likeable people with foibles no different from my own. In another world, on different frequencies- to paraphrase Ulysses- we might even have been friends.

[3’o clock wakeup- flight to Raipur- scorn disguised as pity- dreading every moment of it.]

July 7, 2005
I return to Raipur, a prisoner: the City has won.
Contrary to expectations, and thanks to K, I was saved the embarrassment of having to face the media, not to mention the ‘inquisitive-inquisitorial’ gazes of fellow-passengers and passers-by. The Delhi media- Star, NDTV- were onboard, and it was quite something to witness the NDTV correspondent turn on her charms full-blast on my Custodian, who- despite what he says- was visibly moved by the dusky femme fatale. It is perplexing- even fascinating- to see the national media’s persistent fixation on me continue unabated despite recent occurrences in Ayodhya, the Tihar jail-break and the Gujarat floods: its hunger for the morbid remains insatiable. There is a ‘bandh’- strike- today, happily not on my account. The city administration has obliged me with a bandobast befitting a dreaded terrorist, such is this state government’s desire to keep me in. Tomorrow, I’m headed for Raipur Gaol, the world outside shut behind me indefinitely. What I shall no doubt most miss are the hills, the solitude and the peace they offer. [Note to self: first thing to do upon coming out, if I ever do, is to rush to the nearest hill, perhaps even Kashmir!]
Rahul has put my bail application on the fast track, but any hope of respite I have can only come from Bilaspur: the City- my necropolis- has never obliged me thus far, and there is no reason why she should do so now. Given the intense visibility of this particular Panopticon- the nondescript NMDC guesthouse on Civil Lines- it is impossible for me to be me. Anything out of the ordinary is destined for instant headline, with the local police and the national media hovering about this place like vultures. Except that I am still alive and my flesh is not yet rotting.
For heaven’s sake, extend the basic courtesy of letting a man die before rushing him to his funeral.

[YD’s visit: tells me about his first-hand experiences in jail: ‘a living hell’. Advices I immediately intern myself at a hospital, any hospital. I shall wait till tomorrow before arriving at any final decision.]

Rahul speaks of 14 MLAs who had come to see me at the airport with a multitude of supporters, young and old (both Congress mayors of the state as well as most District Congress Committee presidents). They were holding placards proclaiming: TRUTH SHALL PREVAIL (satyameva jayate) in white on black. Papa informs of the reaction of Party higher-ups, most notably of the Congress President being informed post-facto, and stupefaction in my beloved Marwahi (‘tola na sakan ta tor pet ke peela la dekhoon’). All of this, even if some of the description is exaggerated, naturally uplifts my morale: the sense that I am not alone in this crusade, which by default I am now destined to lead, or at the very least, become its symbolic martyr, is strangely enough, comforting.
Early morning tomorrow, it has been decided that I shall be taken to the Country Club and the Hotel Green Park (presently the site of a hotel management institute), mostly, as K puts it, ‘for the effect’: the media will no doubt enjoy this exhibition. Afterwards, I am to be subjected to a medical examination, an unavoidable legal requisite, before being produced before a magistrate. After that, my Future depends on God’s Will.

[Second Recantation: O God, let this Cup pass from me.]

The Inquisition soon to end, I dine with my Inquisitor: the Dance of Fate begins.

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CONTACT ME. मुझसे संपर्क करें

Amit Aishwarya Jogi
Anugrah, Civil Lines
Raipur- 492001
Chhattisgarh, INDIA
Telephone/ Fascimile: +91 771 4068703
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