Needed, some soul-searching | india | Hindustan Times
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Needed, some soul-searching

Many people witnessed Manish Mishra?s death. But no one has come forward to help identify the accused, writes Soni Sangwan in her weekly column Freehand.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2004 01:07 IST

Many people witnessed Manish Mishra’s death. But no one has come forward to help identify the accused... Concepts of standing up to wrong, speaking out against injustice, helping the needy seem to be off our lists.

Last week, one headline that sneaked past all the reports about India Shining and the Feel Good Factor was about how a young man was thrown off a moving train for trying to save some girls from harassment. There were two reasons why the headline stuck — one because it involved the grand nephew of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and two because of the apathetic response of all who were immediately connected with the incident.

In trying to help someone without any concern for his own safety Manish Mishra displayed a character trait that seems to be completely alien to most Indians. As Rakesh, the other youth who was thrown off the same train with Manish, realised. Despite his pleas, there was no one who offered to lift him off the tracks or help put him on another train. He had to literally crawl along the tracks before he could eventually get help.

The concepts of standing up against any wrong, of speaking out against injustice or holding out a helping hand to the needy seem to be totally off our list of essential character traits to inculcate. Individualism is gaining at the cost of community spirit. India is shining but only in the telecom sector, in the petroleum sector and on the stock exchange. In deciding the feel good factor all that we are taking into consideration is sectors that fatten our bank balance. The bankruptcy of spirit, soul and humanity that is afflicting us as a nation seems to be of little concern.

Manish’s death was witnessed by a bogey full of people. The girls Manish was trying to help saw the faces of the men who threw him out of the train. Yet, today, no one is coming forward to help identify the accused. Manish’s father spent the day before Republic Day running from one police station to another — first to identify his son’s body and then to get a case registered. It was only after the PMO was involved that the police reacted.

If it takes the intervention of the PMO to get assistance from the police, it is little wonder that no one was willing to help Rakesh. The common man is wary of speaking up because he knows that the law will side with those who have the muscle power and the money power. What faith can one have in a GRP official when just a day after Manish was thrown off the train, they have seen the same personnel throw a vendor off the train because he refused to pay them their cut? Pankaj, the vendor, is now in hospital recuperating from injuries sustained after he was thrown off the Chhattisgarh Express. He has lost his leg.

Try telling him about the feel good factor. Try convincing Manish’s parents that India is shining.