Rags to Witness

Morning. Rituals. A Mug full of strong ginger tea and Hindustan Times. Like many others, there\’s a \”Please Don\’t Disturb\” sign hanging on my face. I don\’t know how many people of my generation and the subsequent generations enjoy this age old ritual these days.

The famous BMW case. The case that was the precursor for many such branded cases to come. The case that defined witness manipulation. The papers said today that the last witness is going to depose. The rest of them turned hostile. They reached a compromise or were bought off. Threats are futile. Money is a great motivator.

Raju, a peon at a small courier agency in Jangpura. Tries his best to make ends meet while chewing gutkha. His twin daughters are ready to go to school. But what about books, clothes, slates, chalks and so on? His employer sometimes borrows 502s and Rajdarbars from him. So it would be ridiculous to ask him for a raise. Punjab Kesri was always somewhere nearby. Raju was not illiterate. And definitely not stupid. He knew stuff, you know! So off he went to the temple to ask for a fair chance.

\”God, you are my maibaap, you are kind, you are generous. You heart is like a river. Please cast your kind gaze upon me sometimes. I\’m not asking for too much. I\’m not even asking for something that is not mine. I cycle 9 kilometers every morning to office. I cycle back late sometimes. So many drunk people are driving on the roads of Delhi. Then why not give me a chance? All I ask is just one BMW or Porsche (I dont mind the brand as long as its luxury segment), one rich kid, drunk silly should provide nirvana to a fortunate soul in front of MY eyes. God all I ask is this- make me a witness! Leave the rest to me. I will earn every penny that they stuff into my mouth. God please grant this one wish and I\’ll put 1100 rupees worth on your feet.\”

So the news channels are raking up the back of Tendulkar coz he thinks his cricket strokes are nothing short of pure art. Many of us would agree. The CAG does not. They have absolutely no cricketing or artistic sense. Anyway, there\’s this artist category which gets substantial tax exemption. The Income Tax department will soon come up with a new category called the \’Hostile Witness\’ category. The Finance Secretary has noted that the government loses a lot of revenue in this category. They need to be appropriately taxed. If needed, give them a small exemption in view of the trauma they had to go through, but get them under the tax net.

I heard Witness Protection! Who said that? Who said witness protection?? Are you stupid? You think the government is stupid? Remember, the government is never stupid, just not informed enough. In this case the government knows how much it costs to protect witnesses who are better off making big bucks as hostile witnesses. The government cares for the greatest good, for the greatest numbers. There\’s always one victim but so many witnesses. Why victimise them? Let witness protection be the sole responsibility of the defence side. We, the government, are already burdened by the ridiculously high salary of the public prosecutor. Hey, we don\’t want to screw around with the Budget Deficit any more. Okay?

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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