A special piece by the scriptwriter Farrukh Dhondy
There are as many forms of corruption as there are grown up humans in the world – infants and children remain by nature exempt; it is when ideas control ends that the rot sets in.
The ideas may be warped and feeble-minded ideologies, faiths which tell you that killing hundreds of people will ensure you an endless state of happiness in some hereafter. They may be the noblest balance of morality that offers itself from time to time: do a little wrong to do a great justice. Yes ‘justice’ rather than ‘right’, because killing even a single human being doesn’t appeal as ‘right’ whereas justice wears a blindfold and obeys a law which is in every modern society based on a notion or summation of the common good.
The German writer Hannah Arendt in her book about Eichmann and the evils of the holocaust famously coined the phrase ‘the banality of evil’. She meant that evil is not extraordinary and not dramatic and has an undistinguished human face. In considering the life and actions of the young man Kasab, who was ‘sold’ by his father to the evil Pakistani outfit which calls itself Lashkar-e-Toiba, trained to murder and sent to Mumbai where he kills hundreds of people, travellers and their relatives, in cold blood on a railway station platform, we can add to Arendt’s phrase or coin another.
The naïveté of evil is stunning. In the record of his confession Kasab lies on a bed in the custody of Indian security and tells them how he became a terrorist. There is no passion, no push to martyrdom, no underlying driving belief of putting the world to rights – just dumb and numbing naïveté. His answers to the questions he is asked are not even tainted with the intrigue that could lead to a brainwashing. He is made to believe that he is some sort of soldier and that killing is something that happens at the end of his machine gun.
He is the only one apprehended by the Indian police. His comrades who, from his report are other robots set loose by Pakistani fanatics to commit mass murder at random, are all dead. He has no thought or feeling for them or regret that he is not getting his consignment of virgins or booze in paradise as they are. He believes nothing. He is not Andreas Brevik the Norwegian murderer with a fixed and deranged ideological mission, even though he has murdered more people than Brevik. Kasab is a cipher, a tool in the hands of the purposeless beast of Islamist terror that stalks the earth today, sheltered by cowardly governments and half-conniving populations.
Having captured and subjected him to the due ‘process of justice through which he was sentenced to hang, the government of India doesn’t know what to do with him. The unwritten constitution of civil behaviour dictate that he be protected from those that would, if they could lay hands on him tear him limb from limb; that he be respected as a human with rights and executed according to law. Political considerations enter before the final decision to carry out the sentence. Hindu terrorists have had their sentences of death held in limbo. Will the execution of a Muslim mass murderer, albeit a foreigner, seem discriminatory and alienate the Indian Muslims from the government that carries out the execution?
This dynamic has no real resolution but there might be a fictional one. And once enacted as fiction it cannot be mimicked by reality. I have written that fiction.