Wednesday, March 07, 2007

When morality sends rationality for a toss

I was quite upset about the whole reaction to a rave party bust-up in the city. The police acted illegaly, leave aside unethically. Even the newspapers refused to take a stand. Somebody once told me, you can't bring about a change if you don't a stand.
Of course the world is happier playing diplomat... but is that for a greater good?
Here is something I wrote...

Know the facts, before you opine
Know the law, before you accuse

A sword dangles on the minds, futures and most importantly the reputations of almost 280 individuals (80 per cent of whom range in the age group of 20 to 35 years) who were arrested on Sunday March 4, following a rave party bust in a farm near Sinhagad.
While one half of them plead innocent on the grounds of being present at the venue for the mere love of trans music and without the knowledge of the circulation of drugs, the other half awaits their medical reports to prove their innocence.

Unfortunately what makes them more apprehensive are the media polls on their morality, photographs of their helplessness being flashed in the newspapers and the police authorities gaining support of the public as they expose one by one the drugs, the syringes, the condoms and the expensive gadgets found at the venue - where a few hours back lay their happiness.

The police however, seems to be taking much pride in the fact that they landed up on this party with an accurate number of police force and add to it selected media persons too. The hype was not be missed by anyone! Procedures and work ethics seem to have taken a ride as the police ruthlessly collected these persons and shoved them into the premises of the chowki, allowing cameras to click and names to be given away, with no consideration what so ever for their right to privacy. Not just that, but when people who are half not in their senses, because of the influence of drugs and music, are rounded off in a rough manner, little choice do they have but to give-in to what they are asked to do… AND ALL THIS IS PASSED OF AS 'FANTASTIC TRACKING BY THE POLICE FORCE.'

Incidentally all papers in the city carry this as page-one news positioning it right at the top. The matter too is identical - only facts are laid down at a low-down from just one side. No prizes for guessing which one? Thereafter people begin to run morality checks. Letters, telephone calls and opinions flow into the office from various ends - what is, however, placed before the world at large are the FACTS… selected facts which tend to reflect bias, a bias towards the INDIAN culture, values and upbringing. All this versus the implied: the Gen-X, which has a lot of money, also a lot of time and absolutely no clue on how to utilize either.

For heaven's sake people, trace the history of the event, consider the defences of those involved, crosscheck the facts and look at the number of rave parties that still see the daylight of the next day, even as they span over weeks and not just day.

A rational thought on the bust-up
"Someone was not tipped off," says Rohit Jha, who has done the rounds of the raves and even figured solutions with a cop at a private party where dope was circulated. "They told me to give in to their demands, or else they would charge the women with prostitution!" And so what if the women went scott-free thereafter, they would always carry with them that accusation, even though it was empty.
"How else do you think rave survives in this country," says Sahil Arora from Mumbai. "Everyone gets a share; there are bigger stakes in letting a party carry on than in busting the fun! - in this case it is all about revenge and getting back," he states plainly.

A legal rationale
Section 27, Chapter 4 of the NDPS Act, 1985, says that any person who is found in possession of drugs for personal consumption and not for commercial use, shall be penalised with imprisonment and/or fine.
Advocate Satish Mane Shinde, who represented some of those who have been held in judicial custody in the racket, says, "No one has been found in possession of the substance. Moreover, even the reports to check for presence of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substance in the blood streams of these individuals will take a month to come through, until then nobody can be said guilty."
Moreover, the modus operandi adopted by the police was absolutely improper. "You cannot land up with media persons at the spot of crime and allow them to take pictures of the faces of adult-individuals, without having conducted any formal investigations," says Shinde.

A medical take
Even if the psychotropic substance is found in the bodies of these people, they aren't necessarily into habitual consumption of drugs, because the same can enter your blood stream even through passive inhalation.

And irrespective of the above, sending drug addicts to jail is not going to help. The police are incapable of dealing with withdrawal symptoms of these individuals. "Case studies have revealed that many a times the police give these addicts the substance so as to escape the headache of the withdrawals that they undergo," says Namrata Ghosh, a student of TISS who works with drug addicts off the streets.

The unfortunate bit though is that people have not verified the facts before setting forth an opinion. The newspapers too refuse to take a stand. How else do they plan to become a tool of social change?

This entire article has been written for YOUR knowledge. To let you have the opportunity of setting forth an INFORMED choice of opinion.

As and when the court finds people guilty, we are with the court and support the prosecution of such individuals. But until then, we are no one to decide. But our opinion counts, what we say makes a difference - a difference in society at large - a difference in the environment that most of those 280 youngsters will return to.

So lets not form an opinion until the evidence is strong and the facts are proven… because the law says…
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY (beyond reasonable doubt)