Murder at Maniargundam or Dasarathan Dies

Dasarathan was shot dead at the doorstep of his house, as he stepped out for a pee, on the night of February 11th. The “bullets” were 4″ kambi (iron rod) pieces cut and sharpened.

I have met him a few times; “Hello”, “Nalla irrukengela?”… the last time in the Gas queue at Karumandurai, the Saturday before his death.

His father had come up to the hills, many years ago; Dasarathan was “born and brought up” here; and father and son farmed 40 acres of land now, intensively, with many wells and much water usage.

One explanation of his death was that the neighbours’ wells were drying up as he drew more and more water. Another is sheer envy that “they” had so much land, all of which used to belong to “us”.

There are also murmurings of misbehaviour with local women. but whoever suggests this also adds a codicil to the effect that if you want to attack someone, then this is the best peg to hang your grievances on.

Half a  dozen villagers were rounded up by the police, beaten up, and the “culprits” identified and locked up.

The situation is now ripe for politicians of all hues to jump into the fray and create a Tribal vs Non-Tribal ‘situation’.

And all this has happened because victim and murderer have different labels. Had they both had the same label, the case would not have been so ‘situation’-worthy.

Perhaps this is more often the case than we realise. Policeman vs Naxalite. Innocent Civilian vs Encounter Specialist. The very labels we use betray our sympathies. Perhaps it is time to realise that in every case it is a human being who kills and another human being who dies. And this inhumanity : where does it come from?

Ponder what Primo Levi writes in his book “The Drowned and the Saved” about the guards at Auschwitz:

” They were made of the same cloth as us; they were average human beings and save for exceptions, they were not monsters. They had our faces but they had been reared badly–many (of them) indifferent, fearful of punishment, desirous of a good career or too obedient. All of them had been subject to a terrifying miseducation provided and imposed by school and youth groups.”


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