Manu’s parole shames us all

How fortunate for us that Manu Sharma cannot stay away from bars. And, bar brawls. Were it not for this inexplicable lure of Delhi’s nightlife, this murderer would have probably used his undeserved parole to disappear, with the help of Daddy’s money, to some sunny spot for shady people and live happily ever after. Ever since he was arrested for killing Jessica Lal, Daddyji has been using his money and political influence to try and get his spoilt, violent son out of jail.

How did this monster make parole? We now know from the police that it was on account of the kindness of the Chief Minister of Delhi that Manu Sharma was released to attend the ‘last rites’ of a grandmother who died more than a year ago and a sick mother who was healthy enough to be seen socialising in Chandigarh. Sheila Dikshit has tried to explain why she paroled Manu Sharma. It was routine, she said, and she broke no laws and all she did was sign the paper and send it on to the Lt Governor. We need to ask if this is a good enough explanation? Is it routine to release convicted murderers just like that? Is Manu Sharma just any old murderer?

The reason why Jessica’s heartbreaking, horrific murder so caught the country’s imagination was because in Manu Sharma’s remorseless face we saw reflected all the things that are wrong with India’s political system. And, it must be said, Delhi society. We saw evil, cynicism, callousness, cowardice, greed and the power of money. Jessica was shot dead in a restaurant full of rich and powerful people. Everyone knew who did it. But, if it had not been for Bina Ramani, and her daughter Malini, Manu would never have gone to jail. The police and the Delhi government did everything in their power to get these two women to change their testimony. Bina’s husband was not allowed to go to Canada to attend the funeral of his only brother. Bina spent more than ten days in jail, mostly in solitary and in appalling conditions, for no reason. Cowardice and money power bought the silence of all other witnesses. Shame on Delhi.
More sickening than the cowardice of Delhi society is the cynicism of the Congress. It has not even tried to deny the murderer’s father political power. Venod Sharma is so powerful that he was allowed to contest from Ambala in the recent elections to the Haryana Assembly and according to some reports Manu helped him during the campaign. When Rahul Gandhi wanders about the countryside with the stated aim of bringing better people into politics does he remember Manu Sharma? How can we expect higher standards in public life if his own party has no qualms about allowing convicted murderers to campaign in elections?

Why should the Congress Party need someone like Venod Sharma at all? Why should he be so important that the Prime Minister went personally to campaign for him? The Prime Minister is an honourable, decent man. Did it not embarrass him to campaign for a man who has no respect for the rule of law? Venod Sharma has gone out of his way more than once to subvert the course of justice. And, he brought up his son to believe that India was a country in which the rule of law did not exist for people like him. Sadly, Manu Sharma is not the exception but the rule when it comes to the children of our politicians. If those who we elect to make our laws have no respect for them India will soon end up being ruled by criminals.

If Jessica Lal’s murderer gets away, it will be proof that India’s criminal justice system is so hopeless that it cannot do justice even when a young woman is murdered for nothing. Manu Sharma is in Tihar Jail thanks to our courts. The police went out of its way to help him get away. The reason why we must remember this and put relentless pressure on our politicians to behave is because if the police can be so easily manipulated by a two-bit, regional politician think of how easily it could be manipulated by the huge money power that India’s enemies wield? The police are our primary and most important line of defence against jihadis and Maoists whose stated aim is to destroy India. What chance do we have?

Manu Sharma is back in Tihar Jail because the media made sure that he had no choice left. If our oft maligned 24-hour news channels had not pursued the story relentlessly, if the newspapers had not followed it with equal doggedness, who knows where Manu Sharma would have been at the end of his generously extended parole. That he qualified for parole at all shames India. It shames us all.

(Tavleen Singh)

कोई भी मूल्य एवं संस्कृति तब तक जीवित नहीं रह सकती जब तक वह आचरण में नहीं है.

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