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Monday, May 01, 2006

The Suryanarayan incident (NEWS & POLITICS)

The Suryanarayan tragedy shocked the nation for two days. While we have become largely insensitive to unnatural deaths, murders, and kidnappings; the repeated telecast of the grieving family did manage to sink the hearts of most of us. I hate to subject this tragedy to any cold analysis; but I couldn’t help pondering about a few things.

This time around, there seems to be little that the government could do to salvage the situation. But in similar situations, most people tend to argue that no compromise must be made with the terrorists. During the Kandahar hostage crisis, the BJP drew a lot of flak for releasing terrorists to secure safety for the passengers. But I think the BJP was right. Of course, no government can have an official policy of compromising with terrorists, but in such situations, distanced observers tend to give much higher weightage to such hallucinatory things like national pride and future costs as compared to the individual current tragedies. Those who saw the plight of the grieving Suryanarayan family might know what I mean.

Why did the news channels show pictures of the grieving family again and again? Shock TV sells and spell bounds viewers. After some time, it started looking like that Bengali adage: “What if there is fire in that house, we can eat in that light”. Why did the Kutty incident receive so little coverage comparatively? Or for that matter the abduction an later killings of tribals by Naxals in Chattisgarh?

The government has assured a sum of 5 lakhs for the family. Though no money can compensate for such loss; the sum is also meager given that the engineer might be making ten times this amount in a year through his Bahrain job. But the state and central governments have shown that they care for individuals. However, the Kutty family is apparently yet to receive any benefits. Also, has any such benefits been announced for the Naxal victims? I don’t think we can have any standard hostage policy, but we can surely have a standard compensation policy.

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