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Maachis – The Fire That Ignites The Youth

Democracy means that the government is of the people, by the people and for the people. India is a democratic country. Our government is surely of the people and by the people but is it truly for the people? Apart from being a democracy, India is also a developing country. From emerging as one of the global leaders in international politics to being one of the largest growing economies, India has achieved a lot externally. But is our domestic growth also as tremendous as our external development? If so, then how is the political movie made in 1996 still prevalent in today’s scenario? Moreover, the issues raised in the movie developed just like our economy.

Maachis: The Movie Review

Set against the backdrop of Punjab insurgency of 1984, Maachis is a movie directed by the famous lyricist Gulzar and enacted by talented actors such as Om Puri, Tabu and Chandrachur Singh in the lead roles. This tragedy beautifully weaves the various flaws of our country existing at that time that broke a happy peaceful family and made two lovers, Kripan and Veera, choose the hard part of terrorism. It depicted how political corruption, fake encounters and arrest-induced communal violence forced a young intelligent boy on the path of terrorism, a path from which there was no turning back.

Corruption and fake encounters: “ The law cannot solve any problem. Haven’t you heard the enquiry commission? 10 years, 20 years and it goes on….”
Being a citizen of this country, we all trust the law of the land. We believe that it will help us in our hour of need but imagine that glass of trust-breaking when we turn to the law in our need and law turns against us. This is exactly what is happening in India. The trust of the citizens from their law is breaking like a broken piece of glass to sweep away because of the prevalent corruption and red-tapism. Ironically, the government which is supposedly for the people is actually against the people as most of the members of parliament/members of the legislative assembly are accused in cases of crime against women while 30% of them are accused of serious crimes such as rape, murder and kidnapping [1].

Moreover, we have a termite in India which is slowly eating the faith of the people in the justice of the land and this termite is fake encounters. Enshrined in article 21 of our Indian constitution is the right to liberty of life which says, “ No person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty until due procedure established by law”[2]. This due procedure is sidestepped when it comes to fake encounters as the police take the final action, that is, killing without a trial. The National Human Rights Commission’s list of 440 fake encounters from 2002 to 2007 shows that Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 231, followed by Rajasthan 33, Maharashtra 31, Delhi 26, Andhra Pradesh 22, Uttaranchal 19, Assam 12, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka 10 each, Tamil Nadu 9, West Bengal 8, Bihar and Haryana 6 each [3]. Also known as extrajudicial killing, it should be condemned by the state, right? But the home ministry called it a success when a fake encounter resulted in the death of 47 people in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra and Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh[4]. So when the police will only take justice in their own hands and commit atrocities on a citizen, why would citizens trust the justice of the land? With diminishing trust, the helpless citizens are turning to the only light that they can see in this darkness which is joining terrorist organisations.

Politics of Communal Violence:
“ 14 Hindus were selected and then thrown out of the bus. I am not going to fall in the trap of these politicians, things such as these do not happen, they are made to happen and the people who ordered for them to happen have no relation with religion, all they care about is accounts of their vote, they are dividing us and we are getting divided.”

Communal violence is deep-rooted in Indian society because it was the price we paid for our independence. But after 73 years of our independence, this deep-rooted communalism should have had its roots loosen a bit, right? Sadly, with each passing year, the grip of its roots are growing strong. Communalism was the result of the British policy of divide and rule and when the British left India, their place was taken by the government who still continues this policy. Be it the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 or the Gujarat riots in 2002, the government was primarily one of the leading causes of the communal riots. More so, Sonia Gandhi was facing a lawsuit filed by a Sikh group in a U.S. court for allegedly protecting its members whom the group says were involved in the riots [5]. This fire of communal violence is fueled by ministers such as Yogi Adityanath. Assisted by the media in their task to spread communalism, we have journalists like Arnab Goswami communalizing incidents such as Palghar mob lynching incident[6].

Credulous are those people who believe that the government’s main goal is to help them. The main motive of the government is how to remain in power. Rightfully said in the above dialogue that all they care about are the votes. In his book, “Votes And Violence: Electoral Competition And Ethic Riots In India”, political scientist Steve Wilkinson rightfully expresses that “democratic states protect minorities when it is in their governments’ electoral interest to do so”. So, the government in charge protects minorities either when they are an important part of their current support base (or a key coalition partner) or when the electoral politics of the state is so competitive that the political party cannot afford to forego minority votes”[7].

Terrorism: “ When injustice is meted out to a person, it continues. He cannot fight it alone. He collects people like him, at times, in the name of the country; at times, in the name of religion or at times, in the name of the community. Nonetheless, his fight is against injustice only.”

The perfect example to prove the above dialogue would be that of Naxalites. Where injustice was done on the tribals of Naxalbari village wherein they were promised fifth and ninth schedules but unfortunately these schedules could not see the light in reality which turned the tribals to rebel and to rebel violently[8]. The land of the valley is the hot seat of terrorist infiltration and recruitment. In April 1993, a senior security official in Srinagar told the New York Times, “We don’t have custodial deaths here, we have alley deaths. … If we have a word of a hard-core militant, we will pick him up, take him to another lane and kill him.”[9].

In light of the recent event of scrapping article 370, it might be easier for us to say that it was for the good but we cannot even imagine the atrocities committed against the people. In New York Times an article said that the Indian consul general said that “ restrictions related to Article 370 “seriously discouraged” investment in the region, limited economic opportunities and hurt younger generations.”[10].

Acts such as the Armed force special power act not only curb the fundamental rights of the people it also provides a safeguard to the officer committing atrocities.“Do you have people in [the] army who rape? It is an alleged gangrape in uniform – an aggravated form of crime.” These are the words of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Uday U. Lalit of the Supreme Court to Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who was defending the central government’s decision to shield army men accused of rape from facing prosecution.[11] They have the immunity even when they kill a 14-year-old boy mere on the basis of suspicion. All these things will only turn the young generation on the path of terrorism because death, cold-blooded murder is all that they have seen.
b> Conclusion:
“Chota sa lamha hai, jo khatam nahi hota , mia lakh jal jata hun, yeh bhasm nahi hota.”- Gulzar.

Our young generation is like a Maachis, they quickly ignite when something happens to them or their loved ones. Moreover, if all that they have seen while growing up are guns and men in uniform committing atrocities or acts such as armed force ( special power) act brainwashing them and recruiting them in terrorist groups is going to be very easy.

This is what exactly happens to a person who in his fits of anger against the government and its atrocities and ends up resorting to terrorism. And when his mission is accomplished he no longer has the luxury to come back from where he started. Terrorist groups are like black holes no one can escape it once they have entered it. With every bomb that is a shield which holds the name of the terrorist, a part of his soul burns and joins the ashes and reminisces on the ground. But no amount of destruction is ever enough to satisfy the fire that burns in a terrorist group. And nothing good comes out of it. So in order to contain terrorism and truly fight it, the need of the hour is that the above factors should be taken into consideration and the government should act upon it. It’s time we stop our young angry generation from leaving their homes and forcing them to walk on the path of terrorism and killing the humanity within them.

* The dialogues written in italics are from the movie “ Maachis”.
By Prishita Tahilramani
Senior Secondary Student, The Sanskaar Valley School

References : 1.https://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2011/aug/11/sohrabuddin-interrogating-the-media-280391.html
2.https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2019/12/06/opinion-fake-encounters-are-cold-blooded-murders-by-the-police.html
3.https://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2011/aug/11/sohrabuddin-interrogating-the-media-280391.html
4.https://indiaresists.com/condemn-the-state-sponsored-massacre-scripted-as-encounter-in-gadchiroli-and-bijapur-in-central-india-wss-statement/
5.https://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/09/26/the-politics-of-communal-violence/
6.https://indianexpress.com/article/what-is/what-is-the-yogi-adityanath-hate-speech-case-of-2007/
7.https://theprint.in/opinion/communal-riots-help-parties-like-bjp-but-not-for-the-obvious-reasons/379648/
8. Isc history for class 12th
9.file:///C:/Users/Common/Downloads/INDIA937%20(3).PDF
10.https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/05/world/asia/india-pakistan-kashmir-jammu.html
11.https://thewire.in/culture/rape-security-forces-afspa
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