Indians are a riotFebruary 24, 2010
By Alan Howe
Indeed, there are about 60,000 riots reported in India each year.
It boasts it is the world’s largest democracy, but that “democracy” is very much a work in progress, and the progress is slow.
Much of the country still has well-populated pockets of feudal brutality, deadly caste war, and murderous religious conflict.
Indians still carry out so-called honour killings, an unpleasant business in which concerned male family members, worried about the class, religion, background, or maybe just the look of a girl’s fiance or husband, brutally kill one or both for bringing shame upon them. Apparently no irony is intended.
Along with the popular takeaway chicken tikka masala, honour killings are a notable Indian export.
Just last month a young secretary and mother was found dying in a London street, bashed and with her right hand missing. Her husband and his mate have been charged with her murder.
It’s reported she’d wanted a divorce. I can’t think why.
Geeta Aulakh’s family is from Punjab, India’s most socially and economically advanced state, but life there can be barbaric. It was also home to Nitin Garg, the young graduate murdered here recently.
Were it not such a tragic and serious matter, you could almost have found amusing Indian politicians, and that country’s sub-standard media, lecturing Victoria on our “racist” attitudes.
Among Indian politicians calling for more action to prevent “racist” attacks was External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who threatened: “This heinous crime on humanity, this is an uncivilised attack on innocent Indians. It will certainly have some bearing on the bilateral ties between our two countries.”
Another minister rudely dismissed our police chief with an impertinent insult.
He inherited a Victoria Police that has been unnecessarily secretive and defensive for years, ever since Neil Comrie had the top job.
So it was like a breath of fresh air when he loudly went in to bat for his officers, and you and me, telling his Indian critics “there are over 33,000 murders in India every year; 8000 of those are actually brides being killed because the dowry’s not sufficient”.
Like more than a few Australian men, some Indian chaps are hopeless in the kitchen, but they are also more careless; their stoves so often blow up, killing their wives. It is called stove killing or bride burning. What really happens is that the grumpy husband douses his inadequate wife in kerosene and sets her alight, blaming his jerry-built cooker.
I don’t suppose they’re all guilty; I’m sure you’ve been in a few houses yourself when the stove’s blown up.
I’ve had my moments with the missus, but I’ve never looked to the Hotpoint for an answer.
According to the United Nations, more people are murdered in India than in any other country. The figures should shame the Indian Government and its police, but they’d rather demand, as Mr Krishna did when Mr Garg was murdered, that Australia “speedily” catch the killer.
I have some advice for Mr Krishna. In 2007, the last complete year for which figures on Indian murders are available — but you’ll appreciate there’s a lot of adding up to do — 32,318 murders were reported. The conviction rate was 35.5 per cent.
India’s Minister for Police should get on his bike — or bullock cart — and “speedily” chase down those 20,845 scoundrels who escaped conviction.
Punjab’s police chief is P.S. Gill and, like Overland, he is newly appointed. He has his work cut out for him.
According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, Mr Gill has to deal with perhaps 800 murders a year, and as many kidnappings and abductions among a population only somewhat greater than Australia’s.
His officers are kept busy, sometimes on matters that less commonly clutter the diaries of their Australian counterparts: for instance, about 1000 unidentified bodies turn up each year in Punjab. Bodies, not missing people.
Since Mr Garg was killed, many Indians — not just those indolent thugs burning effigies of Kevin Rudd — have turned on Australia and Australians and lazily and reactively branded us as racist.
The head of the Right-wing Hindu Shiv Sena party, Bal Thackeray, said he would bar Australian cricketers from playing locally. “We will not allow kangaroo cricketers to play in Mumbai … Our boys are being stabbed, burnt and shot at in that country,” he said.
I am unaware any of “his boys” have been “burnt”, but maybe he’s confusing himself with local cases.
There were also calls for a trade embargo, a predictable call to suspend the recruitment of students by Australian universities and, hurtfully, “Bollywood superstar” Amitabh Bachchan’s rejection of an honorary degree from a Brisbane university.
Who? I looked him up on the internet, and just last week he won a local best-actor award. Receiving it, he said: “It feels strange to win a best-actor award. I mean, what exactly am I doing here?”
I have no idea, mate, but keep talking.
Nitin Garg’s death is a tragedy. For him, his family in Punjab, his friends, and for our community.
We don’t know yet who killed him. It probably was an opportunistic robbery gone wrong, but he may have been killed by someone out to harm an Indian. He may have even been killed by an Indian. They have form, home and away.
So let’s solve the crime and get the facts. Let’s not jump to any conclusions.
Well, maybe one: Australia is a safer and more tolerant country than India will ever be.