Monday, January 19, 2009

Silence

She screamed, shrill voice filling the silent air. ``They killed my brother. My brother. He was beaten to death’’…..a pause to breath and then screams again…continued by the same sentence.

She ran from from pillar to the other, pulling her hair. Her mother and sister cried. The three women were hounded by lights; camera lights belonging to various news channels. Reporters waited; waited, for her to stop the screaming. All of this at 12 am.

Then there came a disaster, like, she was waiting for it. A senior police officer came walking towards the three women. She sprang, charged and hit him. But, fortunately, she hit his chest. The officer was taken aback and was later covered by his sub-ordinates. The media ran towards him and he struggled to straighten up and give a statement.

``Arun stabbed someone called Vijay and was brought to the police station. He complained of chest pain at 9.30 pm and we took him to a private hospital. We have not beaten him up’’. He ended his statement and walked off.

While he was talking, she continued screaming. Mala, the older sister of Arun Kumar, who had died while in police custody at the Frazer Town police station, did not let a tear fall off her eyes, but, she wanted to express her anger.

They (Arun’s relatives) said that he was a poor florist with a shop at Mosque road. His wife Radhika had committed suicide two months ago and the couple has a daughter called Sharon. Merely two years old. Now, she is orphaned. ``They (the police) beat us up when we demanded to see his body,’’ said Pratap. And then he showed bruises, to make the media believe him.

Arun’s wife had doused herself with kerosene and then set herself ablaze, said Pratap. ``Arun tried saving her, but, he failed and had injured his right hand,’’ he said.

Suddenly, the relatives decided to go to a private hospital in Coles Park, where Arun was taken initially.

Then the crowd shifted to the hospital, where the scene was worse. The relatives had pelted stones at the premises and the shattered glass blocked the entrance of the hospital. As I entered inside, scared doctors and nurses ran into their rooms, shutting the door. Mala ran into the hospital and cried again, ``I can’t see his body. I don’t want to see it. I don’t have the strength’’. A relative told her that his body was not there and it had been shifted to a government hospital.

The doctor at the private hospital, very politely told me, ``He was brought dead, Madam. There were no bruises’’.

The crowd again shifted to the government hospital and later dispersed at 1.30 am.
The next morning, all statements seemed to change. Doctors were conducting a postmortem examination. Arun’s uncle told the media that Arun had a drinking problem and he had even been admitted at Ambedkar Medical College for a liver malfunction. ``There were no bruises on his body. His stomach had gone in and his eyes were open, when we saw the body. Looks like he died of the liver failure,’’ said Pratap.

A human rights activist came up to me and said, ``something is fishy here’’. I looked at him and shook my head in agreement. There were seven inspectors from various police stations from the East division gathered at the hospital. A media reporter asked one of them, ``Sir, why are you here? This is not your case’’. He replied, ``we have to support our neighbouring stations, when calamity strikes’’ and he walked away, grinning, like he had done the most heroic deed.

The family then brought two-year-old Sharon. She was clinging onto her aunt—Buela, scared and confused. The media rushed towards her and clicked million pictures and then she was taken away.

The police later in the evening released a statement. ``Arun, prima facie, was psychic’’. ``He had killed his wife. He had a drinking problem’’. Silence filled the air again and the screams had finally stopped.