Catch Them Young : The Case of the Baby Terrorist

[Indian Express 27 February.2003 edited/abridged version]

At the last count, a posse of policemen led by the renowned ACP Mukhbir Singh of the Special Cell with countless notches on his belt, were seen outside the Labour Ward of the G.T.B. Hospital ready to arrest the baby on arrival into the world under the Prevention of Terrorist Act, 2003, affectionately referred to as POTA.

On contacting the Deputy.Prime Ministerís office, Mr. Advani justified the impending arrest and declared, "As Abhimanyu in Mahabharata learnt how to pierce and enter the ëChakravyuhí in his motherís womb, similarly this baby had knowledge of the plans to attack Parliament as well as plant RDX bombs and conduct havala operations as the conspiracy was hatched in the house while he was in the womb".

Heaping scorn on Mr. Advani for being a pseudo-secularist Hindu, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)President Mr.Togadia, harking back to our rich cultural traditions said that Kansa was on the right track. He urged that Mother India cannot wait for baby terrorists to grow up into full-fledged terrorists armed with AK 47s who attack our sacred places like Ansal Plaza. Declaring arrest as too good for the baby, Mr. Togadia in a hitherto unsuspected gender sensitive approach thundered that it, regardless of sex should on arrival into the world be exterminated like vermin from the face of the earth.

Smarting from the huge rally addressed by the new avatar Narendra Modi in the den of the ageing saffron tiger at Dadar, Mr. Bal Thackray thundered in his Dusshera day speech that all babies of a certain community which favours green and has four wives and 64 children need to be exterminated if were are not to be over-run by ISI agents and Pakistanis. Anxious and keen to retrieve lost ground, Modiís brother-in-trishuls Law Minister Jaitley announced that the Pre-Natal (Diagnosis of Terrorist) and Medical Termination of Anti-National Pregnacy Bill 2003 had been drafted by his ministry and would be tabled in the coming session of Parliament and a joint session of both the Houses called in the interests of the Nation if the Opposition played politics and opposed the legislation in the Rajya Sabha.

Lambasting the Opposition for not recognizing his second coming, Defence Minister Fernandes while declaring his opposition to death penalty said that even the Honourable Supreme Court permitted it in the rarest of the rare cases and it could be imposed in the facts and circumstances of the case. Submitting that children had been dying in India since ancient Ram Rajya times to the present drought deaths, Mr. Fernandes wondered as to why such a hue and cry was being made about the arrest or death of a solitary baby.

Taking umbrage and questioning the locus of Mr. Fernandes, a Christian who knew nothing of Hindutva scriptures, the Bajrang leader Mr. Katiyar declared that not a single baby had died during Ram Rajya. The only people who died were adults who were killed in the war of the Good against the Evil SriLankapati and they went straight to heaven alongwith him. The leader demanded the head of Fernandes for having committed blasphemy against Lord Ram himself, whose temple is yet to be built at his birthplace. In a suprisingly egalitarian mode, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad demanded a central legislation providing for death penalty to anyone who insults not only Shri Ram but any of the thirty-three crore Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

Prime Minister Vajpayee said no comment was necessary when the facts speak for themselves as expressed in the Sanskrit sloka "res ipsa locquitur": The baby was in the womb when the mother ate beef and anyone who is not willing to die rather than eat the flesh of the holy mother cow has no place in this sacred land of rishis and sages.

Reacting to media reports about arrest of children under POTA in Jharkhand, the Inspector General of Police at a hurriedly called press-conference at Ranchi declared that, "We are not a Christian nation to follow the biblical commandment of not visiting the sins of the fathers on the sons. In Jharkhand all progeny of anyone found to be carrying on with communism came in the legitimate ambit of suspicion as terrorists".

The Secretary Home, on being apprised of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act with regard to arrest of children, authoritatively stated that there was no room for any controversy even by the media, as POTA is an extra-ordinary law to deal with an extra-ordinary situation and takes precedence over all other laws as well as the Constitution. As per the Secretaryís communiqué POTA itself contains no limitations and any creature big or small, biped or quadriped, baby or adult can be arrested under the legislation.

Rakesh Shukla
(The writer is a practicing pseudo-secularist)

Advocate Supreme Court
66, Lawyers Chambers
Supreme Court
New Delhi 110001

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