Wednesday, 13 February 2008


A bit of commotion outside. About 5 PM this evening. I heard some shouting and looked oout the window of the centre.

Four men on two motor-cycles.

One got down and picked up big stones and was shouting: "Close down" followed by expletives. Then he threw the stones. Hard.

At the small shop that sells food-grains and other household dry goods - run by two Gujarati brothers. Next to the Jeevan Sahara Kendra.

Sounds of shutters going down in a hurry. More motor cycles. Other men getting off and picking up stones. Then the gang of men go further up the road.

We were expecting something. But you never think it will happen here. For days the city has been tense because of the rabid anti-"Outsider" statements of a up-and-coming young politician. His uncle had risen to power a generation earlier by pitting the 'interests' of the 'sons of the soil' against the 'invasion' by people from the South of our country. Now his break-away nephew has unleased terror against those who have come from the North.

The police finally went through the formality of arresting this man. His local party members took to the streets to protest this. Stones speak louder than words it seems. The city has shut down. A bus or two has been burnt. It looks likely that tomorrow will see more.

Pathetically, the big fish is already out on bail and at home in his strong-hold. Two hours of arrest and he is freed.

Meanwhile people who have come to the Mumbai area for work and with hopes of achieving something. People who make up this great, complex, chaotic, alive city - by whose sweat the millions are made for the people on the top. So many of these folks are living in fear. And many will spend tonight hungry. Another day without work. Another set of customers lost. Another wasted collection of inputs that no one will take. How many families are affected by one set of violent actions. YB Yeats sums up what we are experiencing in many ways: The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

Stones were thrown today. The rowdies came and went. The shutters remained down.

Thousands of years ago, a man who was no stranger to violence and injustice wrote this:

Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like
the noonday sun.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.

For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. Psalm 37:1-11

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