Death Of A Don Foretold By Himself – OpEd


It has been said time and again that the most dangerous of lies are half-truths. The very nature of propaganda is that it is built around half-truths. In an interview with Amy Goodman, Chomsky says, “Governments are supposed to lie to their citizens.” That’s what governments do – lie through their teeth – when they pretend to follow the rule of law, after making a mockery of the legal process.

This is the background to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh setting up a 3-member judicial panel to probe the cold-blooded murders of the mafia don, Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf in Prayagraj, before the media and in police presence. Atiq’s 19-year old son Asad, who was a law student, was killed along with an associate by the police in an “encounter” on April 13. When the police wanted to move him to Uttar Pradesh from Sabarmati jail, the don already predicted “I know their plan…They want to murder me.”  

All this would seem like material for a C-grade Bollywood movie, where the entire sequence of events leading to the murders is dramatized for an audience that is not expecting anything logical from the filmmakers. If these kinds of murders seem implausible for a Bollywood movie (where literally anything goes), imagine how much stranger the truth is when compared to fiction. The truth, which most people seem to believe, is that these murders took place under the direction of the political party in power in the state of Uttar Pradesh.  

I’ve two points to make:

One is that, the idea of a nation-state is built on the principle that there is a system of law and order which will not be sabotaged to suit the whims and fancies of individual persons, irrespective of their position. In other words, whoever is at the helm of affairs, preserves the mechanism that is expected to deliver justice to ordinary citizens. In the case of these cold-blooded encounters the idea of the state is completely lost. The persons in power stop seeing themselves as members of a government and instead act like leaders of a cult.

The second point is that these kinds of murders are the surest way to create a state of anarchy. When the people in power who are supposed to safeguard state institutions do not believe in them, why would ordinary citizens care for these mechanisms? A state cannot afford to be an extremist; it has to follow the path of moderation. The golden rule with power is that, for a significant part, it is the skillful use of negotiation to achieve desired results; a very small, although indispensable part, is the application of force.

Sultan Saladin, Henry IV of France, Queen Elizabeth I and Abraham Lincoln for the most part were brilliant negotiators who did not hesitate to use force where it mattered. The blatant use of power without any legal and social sanction results in an authoritarian state, which is only another term for permanent anarchy. Anarchy of that kind can be seen in some of the Latin American countries where murders happen on a regular basis. This is what we are witnessing now in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh where encounter killings are becoming the norm.

Extreme situations like these ones lead to extreme responses. Violence is met with violence and collective suffering becomes the reality of everyday life. The worst part about these encounter killings is that the same mechanism is used against a lot of people who are fighting for a just cause, because they’re perceived to be a thorn in the flesh of the state. This is apart from the innocent people who get killed in the crossfire, because they have no idea which side to turn to.

I’ve never known of a state of violence that led to a state of peace. I don’t think something like that has ever happened before. Unless the citizens become politically conscious and resist the lies routinely manufactured by their governments there is no hope that this situation would ever change.


“Atiq Ahmed: The brazen murder of an Indian mafia don-turned-politician”

“Murder of law and order: On the Atiq Ahmed case in Uttar Pradesh”

Prakash Kona

Prakash Kona is an independent scholar from Hyderabad, India.

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