Dear Jarnail Singh

….I watched you hurl a shoe at Chidambaram last night and was horrified. Yes, I know you’ve apologised and I know you are aching for your community and that you don’t want this politicised but I just wanted to reach out to you and tell you that I was horrified.

Horrified that a journalist would behave in such a manner. And horrified that after 25 years you are still awaiting justice and sadly are reduced to hurling shoes.  It’s a sign of frustration and rage and impotence and I feel each one of them with you.

You see, a few months ago my community faced the same sort of distress – our churches burnt, nuns raped and community killed. No justice yet. The CMs of those states will probably be back in power – much like the CM who fiddled while Gujarat burned. The women and children raped and killed, the men massacred.

Of course we haven’t had to wait twenty five long years like you for justice but I have a feeling we wouldn’t have got it in twenty five years either.

We’re journalists, Jarnail. It’s our job to record, to expose, to use the might of our pens. Not to throw shoes. Because then there is no difference between us and them. Who them? Why those who we’re protesting against. Those who killed, burned and raped our communities. Those who think violence is a solution.

Can we do anything – yes, let us join hands and protest peacefully. You, me, those who burned in Gujarat – and show them that we will not stand for it. But we will not turn into animals like them either. We will not behave in a manner where people can point a finger at us.

I don’t know you Jarnail and being on totally different beats I doubt you and I will ever attend the same press conferences. But I’ll believe those who said you’re a mild mannered man. I hope you get justice, I hope you find peace… and I hope you’re never again pushed into a corner this way either. Until then, hold the shoe!


Your comrade in pain…


Edited to add: Have you guys seen this movie, The Invasion? There’s a line at the end where Nicole Kidman kind of heaves a sigh of relief when they realise the world is back to it’s usual program of rape, murder and theft. And a rather scary line where she points out that if we didn’t do any of these, well, we’d stop being human…. Your thoughts?

PS: Thanks Happy Karma for supplying me with the exact lines “In the right situation, we are all capable of the most terrible crimes. To imagine a world where this was not so, where every crisis did not result in new atrocities, where every newspaper is not full of war and violence. Well, this is to imagine a world where human beings cease to be human”


31 thoughts on “Dear Jarnail Singh

  1. 🙂 Nice one. I agree. We who work with the media have power at our fingertips, we just need to use it in a just manner. Tough, but manageable.

  2. Well written MM. Looks like Jarnail felt his pen wasn’t as strong as his shoe!

    Insulted, pained, wronged and furious we may be whether we’re women, Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, Dalits, but choosing violence, even verbal violence, means we’re not so different from the original perpetrators.

  3. Oh MM … I totally agree with every word here. You can say it better than I could, though I too had tried…to convey the same thing. This touched in it’s simplicity and warmth. And the truth and wisdom in every word.

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  5. ..and also hindus ..who were also converted , burned , raped ..may be you should also mention them ..and not just abt your community ..since you are a journalist ..and you are supposed to be fair ..!!

    Me: Are you presuming to tell me what to write about on MY personal blog? In what capacity? That of a no-name stranger with much opinion?

    This is not a news channel where I will air every greivance in town. This is MY personal space where I will write about what upsets me and affects me. That doesnt make me unfair, it makes this personal.

    To talk about your own problems is not to deny that others have them. But to insinuate that I need to write about others to come across as fair is just your own prejudice showing… Think about it, and try not to be so self serving and quick to create tension.

    Just for the record – not all converted people are forced. My family and I happen to think this is the best thing to have happened to us. I am sure its hard for you to understand or accept – but thats the thing about a free world, isnt it?

  6. ..may be then you should open your blog then only for specific readers..or communities ?

    Me: why? because you dont want to see how others feel about something? It bothers you that I can in my personal space have a personal opinion and not write on demand? Because it bothers you to see in public what you would prefer to close your eyes to? Thats rather sad.

    Sometimes, just sometimes, you need to stop and see that people are hurting and peaceful – and waiting. Sometimes you need to see it from their POV. I am giving you that chance. To see it from another’s perspective. Dont blow it

  7. Wow MM!! That’s just so pithy, every word rings true. Frustrating times these are for sure.
    But honestly, I don’t think Jarnail Singh’s writing would’ve made any difference to those goons.
    At least the shoe hitting headlines made them withdraw Sajjan+Tytler’s tickets.

    Of course that’s just the teeniest positive angle to the whole thing. Such is the sorry state of politics in this country that one tends to be happy over one small thing than be scared by the much worse,bigger picture.Sad !!


    Me: yes, it did make them withdraw. And thats what is so sad. The politicians are so apathetic that they force people to react in violence. If they reacted sooner and better, there would be no need for violence. All they’ve done is teach another community that the only way to get what you want is to throw a shoe….

    awful 😦

  8. I did see Invasion a couple of days back on TV . I thought it was a tacky movie– what with all the spitting :-).

    Nevertheless, the line is poignant:

    “In the right situation, we are all capable of the most terrible crimes. To imagine a world where this was not so, where every crisis did not result in new atrocities, where every newspaper is not full of war and violence. Well, this is to imagine a world where human beings cease to be human”

    Me: I agree – totally tacky film. but where did you find the line?! This is amazing. thank you 🙂

  9. Well written MM. Yeah we keep waiting for justice 😦 Read the last line and so disagree. I dont rape,murder or steal….does that mean I am not human? Infact I think, those who rape,murder or steal are not human but devils !

    Me: no I dont think you rob, rape or murder – you just cook amazing food 🙂 but i think you know what I mean. I was just arguing with the OA – about agri reforms and how suffering agriculture sends the rural people to the cities, hunting for work and how hunger and poverty can drive you to desperate measures. You and I are blessed and dont need to resort to violence…but then its this inequality that is one of the root causes na? Is there a solution?

  10. i feel chidambaram is one of the few respectable politicians we have in our nation today. its a shame that someone else has to be on the receiving end of some one else’s fault.
    but lets view this community hatred at a microscopic level. as responsible individuals we need to stop sowing seeds of hatred in our young ones. so the next time my child makes friends with a muslim in school, let me not ask him to never speak to him again. because my forefathers were tortured and killed by muslims at the time of partition.

    i pray for a day when religion becomes one of our identities and not our sole identity.

    wonder which well the anonymous k has been living in and continues to..With a blindfold!

    Me: Yes – I believe that too. I want to tell my kids that you cannot hate others because of what they did to your forefathers. How long can each one carry the burden of something their grandfather or their community did? And I like Chidambaram too.

  11. LOL…I know MM what you are trying to say. The wide gap of inequality may instigate someone to break the law. I can understand the helplessness as we too were the proverbial poor as church mice once upon a time. My parents struggled hard and I am really blessed to be where I am today all because of their efforts. I truly dont know what the solution is…or if there is one. As my husband keeps saying Life is unfair 🙂 He also adds Good guys finish last! Yeah we are crazy that way.

    Me: so were we sweetheart – but poverty is very different to oppression – which is what compounds things…and your husband sounds like the OA – right down to the last word.

  12. Totally agree violence is not the answer.

    But the one thing I think that is a good outcome of this whole episode is, it will force people in power to be sensitive and a little more careful next time when choosing their candidates.

  13. Bangalore was the epitome of unity in diversity before a certain party came to power a year ago. After that there were attacks on churches and moral policing raised its ugly head. Now I hear the TOI Lead India winner who was from Bangalore has joined that party. Is there a single person who deserves our vote in the coming elections?

  14. By the way MM, on a different subject, you had once done a post on places in Delhi where we could donate toys, do you have any information at the moment. I don’t want to bother you, but I thought of you the moment my sister said that she needed to give away toys.

    Me: yes – goonj is where i give the stuff. theres a collection centre there. as well as at the aurobindo ashram – where i gave away the baby crib etc

  15. I read your post this morning, and knew this was going to have atleast one self righteous commenting soul with ‘frog-in-the-well’ ideas!
    I will never forget when M asked me why Christians across the country, did not resort to violence, after Kandhamal. Without meaning to sound self righteous myself or prove any religion’s superiority over another, I am still trying to find the response to that question.

    And yeah, Mr. K – my grandparents went to mission schools, where they chose to convert to Christianity – and yes, it continues to be the best thing that happened to my family.

    I would also suggest you sometime take time out to go to any obscure village in Bihar or UP, and ask one of these ‘converted’ folks, just why they chose to do it – the answers might just be what you need, to see things in new light!

  16. I didnt know about ‘The Invasion’ but reading that line sent shivers down my spine. It’s so true I think. Maybe we’re all holier than thou now because we can afford to be. Wonder what I’d have resorted to if I couldnt. Jeepers.

  17. Very well written MM.

    K or whoever you are, please don’t make this post to be “Our community” Vs “Your community”. That is not the point of MM’s post. This is about people who have been hurt in general and the pain that they have undergone.

  18. On a completely different (and much more cheerful!) note, I just noticed that in the comments section of the previous blog, you have mentioned about other blog-names for the brat being considered.

    Okay, so how about ‘stalk’? You know, ‘bean’ and ‘stalk’? Get it? 😀

    ( Yes yes. I am lame like that. :P)

    And yes, I am being deliberately off-topic and flippant because politics is one thing which never ceases to depress me. I will be voting for the first time in the upcoming elections. (And I am totally excited about that. :D) As such, I am keeping a close tab on all the election news because I want to make an informed decision. However, the more I see, the more I learn and the more I realize that it will always boil down to choosing the ‘bad’ over the ‘worst’, rather than the ‘best’ over the ‘good’.
    Things indeed do not look too hopeful.

  19. I totally agree!I think such acts justify every act of terrorism. Because they think they are doing it for a cause too. To me it is similar to saying ‘If someone has wronged us, we have the right to resort to violence.’

  20. I did not start the your blog vs other blogs ..but the way things are put as if as things are fair from your side sounds bad..Why is it never mentioned that before the christians got tortured ..a swamiji was also killed in the hands of christians.We were also hurt then …i have never seen any one mentioning abt that ….so in a way you have chosen to only see one point of your arguement also!..( answering the Karuna rao statement ) ..u can choose to delete my comment ) ..I am commenting because commenting is enabled here.!

    Me: so let me get this right. ONE swamiji was killed or ONE PM was killed so its okay to go apeshit and go around raping and murdering? Are you saying we’re animals? In that case, please speak for yourself. What happened to waiting for justice like most civil people are expected to do?

    Also I dont know which hole you keep your head down, but the Maoists claimed responsibility for that murder. Despite that people like you spread lies. Very sad. And very pathetic.

    You got your ‘vengeance’ for your swamiji, albeit the wrong people – its so much easier to go around murdering poor villagers to get the blood thirst satisfied, than take on armed maoists na? cowards.

    I feel bad for the murder of the swamiji just as I feel bad for death and murder around this country. should we all then resort to civil unrest, pogrom and genocide each time we lose someone we respect or care for in an accident or mishap or even murder? why then do we have courts and a legal system? there were priests murdered and nuns raped – have you seen us get up and murder in retaliation?

    But have those poor tribals got their vengeance for the plunder that was nothing to do with them? So naturally I write about those who havent got their due.

    Finally – I am writing about what I feel like. Your accusation of me being unfair – is also unfair because this is a personal blog where I write of what interests me – you cannot expect your interests and mine to be the same. neither can you claim its a bias. Does everyone have to take up topics of your interest by force? Is that a new rule I missed somewhere?

    Next time – get your facts right before you choose to come back and make a fool of yourself.

  21. if I am a fool you already proved yourself many times .thank you .

    Me: ah – an intelligent and gentlemanly response – but I expect no better from a man who justifies violence and wants civil society to return to jungle raaj and be judge, jury and executioner?

    its not bad enough that the first comment you leave here is to rudely tell me that I am ‘supposed’ to be a journalist and am not being ‘fair’? You come back with no argument but to say fool?!

    A fine argument indeed mr aggrawal – and one that says a lot about the cause you support too. now shoo. i dont have time for people who have no facts or logic and can only base their arguments on accusations, abuse and rudeness.

  22. Well, I am not in complete agreement with K that it is ok to avenge the death of a Hindu swamiji by killing many innocent people…revenge with blood cannot be justified…period…

    But how come your list of ppl whom you want to join hands and protest peacefully does not include Hindus? Why should justice be segregated by community? Why can’t we look at ourselves as India and not jump at the first opportunity to discuss communal issues?

    Were Hindus not killed and murdered during the Islamic invasion? Were Hindus not killed in Godhra (lets not talk about ratio now) and…

    Why cannot everyone protest peacefully against the government of India that has failed to take care of its ppl? why should it be the current affected communities? I wonder why attack only one community in particular? What is ur misery today will be mine tomorrow so why can’t we be just Indians and try to handle this problem?

    Me:W (!?), the idea was to join hands and protest AGAINST the government – and demand justice. Not to join hands and fight against some community. Which post did you read that in? Not mine for sure.

    You want revenge for Islamic invasion? Against who? People who died centuries ago? As for those who burnt in the train – that is the entire point – why didnt people wait for justice in court? Why did they retaliate by burning up a city? Why do people respond to the death of a swami by mass killing of innocents? and then have the gall to ask for further justice? If they wanted justice – they shouldnt have taken the law into their own hands.

    Jarnail was protesting against the Congress giving tickets to Tytler and Sajjan and I said we’d love to join him and demand justice too as long as it didnt involve throwing shoes.

    Did I say we’re going to attack another community – makes me wonder what kind of guilt makes you people jump to such conclusions. look deep within and examine your own prejudices before you attack. Seriously.

  23. Roxanne(& to an extent MM),
    In India they havent but it across the world they have in the past and today too. Violence has no religion.

    I am a Hindu neither do I support Godhra nor the Orissa, Out of 80 million(approx) followers of a religion, a miniscule’s role should lead to a religion being branded.

    Me: So Jarnail threw a shoe at Chidambaram and I wrote him a letter saying that there are better ways to protest against wrong doers being given tickets. Do you guys even read the news to see what the issue was?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Which community was branded? The politicians and the government is being raged against for not getting us justice – right? Are you objecting to that? Geez – you guys amaze me with the ability to turn anything communal.

  24. What about those who burnt the trains in Gujarat?

    Me: What about them? They were immediately avenged by the burning of an entire city na?

    Did those who felt badly abt the train burning go to court? File a case? File an FIR? Wait 25 years for justice like Jarnail and the rest?

    You cant take your vengeance violently and then want it again…. If you want the law to take its course – dont take the law into your own hands.

    If I react by burning more swamijis because of the churches burnt – I have no right to demand justice after that. I instead wait for the law to protect me. It might be a forlorn hope but its a little better than the insolence of your question where 1000s were murdered in retalation and yet you want to know what of those who burnt?

    Is that hard to understand?

  25. Don’t jump to the conclusion that ‘aggr’ stands for aggarwal..just another of the conclusions that only a hindu could react like that ..there are many who resonate with that sentiment.

    Me: oh – I take it back. it just seemed like aggrawal no? could stand for aggressive too. i wouldnt say a Hindu would react like that. i’d say an unreasonable person would react that way. for the record – not that its your business but i have agarwal relatives who are christian. names no longer mean anything to a certain lot of us.

    Just tired of dealing with cowards who hide behind single alphabets and get aggressive with a woman who has her entire life on display. i’m sure you understand.

    i see you’re now coming back with comments that have nothing to do with the matter at hand – and are random statements. I wont be publishing them if you have no facts or proper points. you’ve been warned

  26. MM,
    “there were priests murdered and nuns raped – have you seen us get up and murder in retaliation?” – that statement is what led me to include you in my reply to roxanne. (us – which us? there have been different time zones and places, practitioner of any religion is capable of it).

    Me: ??I dont understand you. And of course I said us. I’m a Christian who is as upset at the murder of a priest in Orissa as those on this page mourning the swamiji. Murdering in retaliation is not the answer is it?

    I do read news and I am aware that as much as I can argue right and wrong, at least that shoe throwing incident lead to Jagdish tytler not being given a ticket.

    Me: Yes – totally. thats the point of this post. that the govt needs to react faster and not wait for shoes being thrown. else the message they are giving is that unless you throw a shoe in my face i wont get you justice. i want Orissa CM to be removed from his post because he was incapable of stemming the pogrom. Should i go throwing shoes in the faces of other leaders? I think its ridiculous and if you support that sort of action, well then we’re on different pages.

  27. The point of the post is getting lost in the comments eh? lol.
    But I’ll just say this that i think the point S,K,W etc are making is that in your post, (albeit your blog, your prerogative) you didn’t talk about all communities. And that is what is not fair(to them). I know you’re not a news channel so you don’t have to be fair, but that i think is the point. The whole who killed the Swami and then what lead to what is mired up in controversy, because there is one prominent religion in the Maoist camp. So there is a lot of silliness also.

    Me: True. I see that. But they dont see my point. Which is a waste of my time. The whole retaliation thing is the same as the riots of 1984 when Sikhs were killed because they shot Indira Gandhi. How fair was it then? How fair is it now? You’re right – I should close comments after a while but there is sure to be some frustrated soul screaming that I was unfair. The only reason why you see so much heated debate on my blog is because i dont stop publishing unless someone gets abusive. People might not like my replies or my attitude – but they cant call me unfair…

    In fact I think you and I disagreed rather err.. heatedly 😀 sometime ago – but I appreciate your coming back to read and comment

    Maybe after some comments you should close the comment section? Just a thought.

    Oh, and lastly, why does everyone go after the CM of the state where the riots occurred, why not the bloody MP of province, he has more responsibility and culpability?

    Me: Good point. Now see – why doesnt anyone else point that out. I agree. Every single MLA, MP, corporator should be pulled up

  28. I dont understand why my comment has to be clubbed with K, W and all other alphabets(yes,next time I will use a name).

    Me: Why not use it this time? after all you could use any name – but stick to it. i blog as the mad momma and all posts are on this blog, unapologetically mine. anyway i know who you are, so its okay

    And having contrary opinion from someone and expressing it isnt a bad thing, it is only natural. Otherwise it would be what we tamilians call Jalra.

    My point is not w.r.t to the post but w.r.t the comment from roxanne and yours which suggested that only people from one religion are capable of being patient(when you said, you dont see us get up and murder in retaliation). Which is why I say look most of the 80 million(of the majority religion) doesnt take up to murder also.

    Me: sure 80 million dont. but lots of them do – e.g. -Godhra, Sikh riots, babri masjid, orissa, karnataka. and these are not terrorists, or invasions from other continents. these are our own people. people you’re living in the midst of, suddenly turning against you… why arent those violent people banned and called terrorist outfits like a LeT. Why do they get to be called Kar Sevaks? Why do you allow them do this in your God’s name and call it a religious task?

    that said – the entire point of the post was to tell Jarnail not to be violent and to wait for justice. Not to pick out sentences and read meanings into it. you’re free to do that, no doubt. but i am aware of what i wrote and i can do nothing about how you choose to look at it.

    And if you look around the world and even in India in the past, people of the religion roxanne talked about have turned violent.

    Me: and why should we be bracketed with them? we have nothing to do with them and the idea wasnt to say christians are more patient. but in places like india, we might be of a different religion – but we’re as indian as the 80 million who dont take to violence and are equally patient and peaceful.

    You said violence has no religion – i agree with that – so why does the maoist violence have to be about christians? why do you bracket me with what George Bush does? Would you like to be bracketed with some violence in Nepal or Sri Lanka because it might have been Hindus involved there? a strange argument ….

    i didnt say that Hindus are violent (i’m tired of this politically correct, this religion, that religion game). but some of them are, and they get away because they’re larger in number. when is the last time you saw large scale ethnic cleansing in our country of Hindus, by other Indians who are not terrorists?

    anyhow – this was not the point of the post. you are drawing me into an argument of your own creation which is rather wrong. the point was to organise protests like the jessica lal case. against politicians. if you want to make it an us vs them issue – well then – thats just communalism again and proves the point i’ve made

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