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'I don?t wanna go the Jessica way'

In the Jessica Lall case, the accused have gone scot free. I could be their next victim, writes Shagun Dayal. Who killed Jesscia?

india Updated: Mar 02, 2006 12:23 IST

Jessica Lall, a model in her early thirties, was shot down in front of some 600 people at a popular restaurant-bar, Tamarind Court, on April 30, 1999.

There were eye witnesses who saw those who had killed her, and had said so to the police; but eight years on, all the "accused" have gone scot free. So did no one kill Jessica? Do the witnesses who turned hostile now sleep in peace? Will the alleged assailant, who now roams free with impunity, never repeat that dastardly act again?

I am severely burdened. One more dictum thrust on me. My "progressive" horizon is suddenly bleak. Perhaps Jessica Lall’s parents never gave these briefs. "No ramp-sashaying and no nocturnal ventures."

‘Tamarind Court’ has left a sour taste for a lifetime for the Lal family. Their daughter was fired on at point blank range for simply refusing a drink to a customer. The outcome: a shot for no shot!

I am not a bar-tender but I am, like Jessica was, a working girl who adheres to some professional ethics. I am sure all girls my age don’t want to go the Jessica way. All six acquitted will be soon crossing our ways. And if you fail to submit to their whims and fancies, then they will not shirk away from brandishing firearms. What the heck if you are innocent.

What's important is to have the right contacts, the moolah. A conscience, some courage, the passion to stand up for what's right - nah! these are moth-balled virtues, which have no place in today's world. That's the message sent out by the youth of today, who did a volte face in the case. That's the message sent out by the lawmakers and the police of the country.

You may be run over by a vehicle or sexually assaulted before hundreds, but cowardly threads will tie their tongues and festoons for your "in happier days" photographs. They all will wormhole their way to safety.

One may counter that only the wearer knows where the shoe bites. Any sane person will run for his life rather then let the sword dangle on his head. But there were hundreds of them at the scene of the crime. A united stand could have ensured punishment for the culprits. Today it was Jessica, tomorrow it could be one of them or one of their daughters. Who will they turn to, then, for support, having rendered none themselves?

‘Scientific evidence’, ‘Eyewitness account’, ‘Investigating agencies’ seem dwarfed terminologies making a shallow parody of fairness in India.

Loopholes at different levels have buried a clear cut case.

The lessons then:
Never commit the blasphemy of running from pillar to post for justice. The Lalls can tell that the six year wait and flowing their savings on attorneys is not worth it. The rich will always get it good.

Please don’t suggest pepper spray props in days of adversity. I may be knocked down in a spur of a moment before reaching for my aids.

The cumbersome cargo of these spooky thoughts have drooped my confident gait. Some women want to scream shame, but what’s the use. It’s all in vain.

First Published: Feb 23, 2006 17:55 IST