Wednesday, July 04, 2007

On Forgiveness: Reginald Jeremiah

Et Tu...
A certain amount of post-acquittal exuberance, edging perhaps towards a nascent-belligerence, is understandable: the Trial Court’s decision to initiate proceedings under section 194 of the Indian Penal Code- i.e., “giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence”- against a former college mate, Reginald Jeremiah, must therefore be seen in this context. After dealing at considerable length with his deposition, the hon’ble Court finally arrived at the following surmise in paragraph 452 of its mammoth Judgment:

“[In this way,] the evidence of Reginald Jeremiah (PW-85), who is an approver against a co-accused, is extremely evasive and contradictory. In all important facts, he is not corroborated either by circumstantial or any other evidence. His evidence is suspect, weak and false. After careful scrutiny of this evidence, it cannot be said that the charge against accused Amit Jogi, Chiman Singh, Yahya Dhebar, Abhay Goyal and Firoz Siddiqui that they conspired to kill Ram Avtar Jaggi at the hotel Greenpark on 21st May 2003, is proven relying on the sole testimony of this co-accused approver. [These other co-accused have been convicted of having conspired at another location. It is therefore ironical that they should be sentenced on a charge for which they did not face trial- AJ] The statement of this witness is extremely weak and full or errors. Witness is not reliable. Hence, it will not be judicious to hold the accused liable for conspiracy on the basis of his evidence. Everything that has been stated by Reginald Jeremiah in his evidence, is untrue. Nothing he has said in court is true. There is no doubt he has said all these things against Amit Jogi because of personal enmity, because after being fired from Akash Channel, he expected Amit Jogi to recommend his name for reinstatement to Rohit Prasad [the Director of the said channel], which the latter did not do…Hence, it does not seem proper to rely on any of this witness’s utterances.”



Accordingly, the Court has summoned him to appear tomorrow, the 5th of July, 2007, to face Trial for the aforementioned offence, punishable with life imprisonment.

The Ides of March
I recall, vividly, the catharsis that was Reginald’s testimony. It was the day after the festival of colors, Holi (which Reggie, the self-professed puritan of Scottish descent, deems a heresy). He entered the witness box at 4:30 p.m. sharp, half an hour before closing time. Armed personnel of the state police’s crime squad encircled him. He didn’t once look me in the face; not even when the then learned judge asked him to identify me.

Upon his return to Delhi, he was celebrated as a “hero”- the ideal prosecution witness in the Age of Zaheera Sheikhs- most enthusiastically by the NDTV correspondent, Sunetra Choudhary, who was enticed by her ‘sources’ in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to do a primetime story on him: “At a time when witnesses in high-profile criminal cases are turning hostile," Ms. Choudhary proclaimed, "one young man has withstood threats to testify in the (Ram) Avtar Jaggi murder case”. Finally, justice had been done to the Mafiosi-son of a high-profile politician: “Jeremiah’s statement is enough to nail Amit.”

Indeed it might well have been so. Fortunately for me, we were able to establish beyond a shadow of doubt that everything he uttered that day in the packed courtroom was nothing but lies, dictated to him by certain officials at the Bureau. For the record, the meticulous demolition of his evidence has very little to do with oral testimonies (or as the popular expression goes, ‘with witnesses turning hostile’); on the contrary, it is based exclusively on unimpeachable “documentary evidence”: Passports- verified by the Indian High Commission at London in pursuance of information received from Her Majesty’s Home Department- proved that atleast three persons who had allegedly played a pivotal role in the conspiracy according to Reginald on the night of 21st May 2003 at the hotel Greenpark in Raipur, weren’t even in India; Telephonic Call Details (obtained unwittingly by the CBI, no less) and Newspaper Reports disproved Reggie’s claims on other material points; even the Bureau’s Case Diary did not come to his aid. With every word that escaped his lips, Reginald willfully perjured himself.

Even now, I cannot say why he did what he did: lying when he knew only too well that his lies might well become the noose around my neck? Was it fear; possibly greed; or a bit of both? I will never really know. One thing is for certain: Reginald’s actions have forced me to question everything I thought I knew- and cherished- about Human Nature: the things that make us ‘human’. However, there have also been extraordinary kindnesses, too many to recount here, that are more than enough to heal this most unkind cut.

Honourable Men
Under the circumstances, what can I do? For me, one of the most difficult things about this Trial has been to come to terms with Reginald's act. As a Christian, I feel myself bound by the following passage, not from the retributive prophesies of his namesake (the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah) but from that most humane of Gospels, Matthew:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.”
(Matthew 18:21-22)


Tonight, when I go to sleep, I want to do so with a clear conscience: having forgiven Reginald, I now leave him to God’s- and the Court’s- Judgment. May the Lord give me the strength to do so.

AJ

6 comments (टिप्पणी):

amit tiwari said...

Whats the greatest sin humans commit? I answer, its breaking the finespun string of friendship, & throwing one's friend into dungeon for selfish desires. For such, of what Kafka's The Trial moans, waits the ceaseless wait on the door of lord of justice & dying in the end with agony. In such way justice is being done to them. I hope the same for this 'neo-brutus' too.
I find AJ with acute morality when he says what twenty five centuries ago a crowned man said & blessed all mortal homosapiens with unconditional love & forgiveness "let thy kingdom come, let thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth".
May god bless him, always.
I thank, in the end, to existence for making my trust firmer that truth never looses.

Clive said...

That was most interesting to read, thank you for posting it.

Up to this point, my instinct said you were innocent but at first I only had the words of one side against the words of the other; then I had the court decision to go on - but court decisions can be wrong. But this judgement is crystal clear.

I am pleased that you can find it in your heart to forgive - but you won't forget, I think, and I hope the world doesn't forget, either.

Dr Saibel Farishta said...

Forgiveness is the attribute only of the strong.

Atul Singhania said...

Bhaiya aapka forgiveness ka step aapki mahanta ko darshata hai..
Mei bhagwaan se yeh hi prarthana karunga ki kisi ko bhi is tarah ka vishwaas ghaati dost nahi de. Jab aap kisi par itna trust karte ho, usko aapke baare mein saari andar tak ke details de dete ho aur woh aapko betray kare toh kya haalat hoti hai woh mei acche se samajh sakta hoon.
I wish good luck to bhaiya for his future..

Mohit Singhania said...

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Having said that, I would like to be very frank here. I would never be able to forgive somebody who does something like this to me.

As, Saibel bhaiya already said "Forgiveness is the attribute only of the strong.", kudos to you.

I don't want to be strong though :P

Neelam Paul Kujur said...

Hi Amit,
Allow me to introduce myself as one from chattisgarh where my roots rest. Probably my nativity will help me to build a common turf which I hope will add a empathtic reason for my mail.
My parents are from Jashpur district but I am born and brought up in Delhi , currently in pune working in an interior desigining firm as an administrator.
I been introduced to Jogi's name when Ajit Jogi (your father) stood from Jashpur district as an MP in late 90's and won . Though I was never intrested in politics but an accidental visit to your MP's home in Delhi with my mother for the clarification on caste certificate allowed me to meet reginald . Since i knew regie in person his presence at your house made me curious not because he was my school mate in Xavier's and my neighbour in mall road but because I knew him as an oppurtunist and a personality with tall tales with scottish legends.
That small incident did allowed me to take intrest in chattisgarh politics because someone whom i know was more informed about my district and my state more than me.Though my social commitments and my roots took me from Kanker to korea district in later years but I always kept track of your political graph in relation to that incident.Your prosecution , the witnessing of reginald was never acceptable to me as it was flashed in media during those times but a chance tripping over your blog on forgiving reginald made me move in awe and in high respect as a result this mail.
Healing is always a process but It takes a character and a forgiving heart to forgive. The prosecution and the mental torture what you been may have crafted deep dungeons in your present and for a bright future but i belive its a promising signs of new sunrise which was required for a able leadership.I always belived you having a great potential to carry the legend of your father as your capcity to relate with people always impressed me.Let there be more forgiving hearts like you and my full prayers with support are with you for this great leader in making .May you be blessed and be a blessing to thousands of this blessed nation.
A silent admirer
Neelam paul Kujur

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Amit Aishwarya Jogi
Anugrah, Civil Lines
Raipur- 492001
Chhattisgarh, INDIA
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