Friday, March 16, 2012

India pays back 'India's Most Wanted' and how!

Icons who supplement sense of belonging towards a society, are hailed instantly as heroes. Such icons are 'most wanted' and sought-after in our society. At the same time, the ones who are bestowed with fame in the process, are also pulled down cruelly at the slightest hint of vulnerability. How would a man, who has helped in netting dreaded absconding criminals be made to feel? He would definitely be treated with utmost respect in any other society, but seemingly not so, in unfortunate India. My statement can be termed as gross cynicism, may be until I present an example.

Suhaib Ilyasi, pioneer of reality television show in India and anchor of first crime based program, 'India's Most Wanted' risked his career for a program listing 'wanted' criminals of various jurisdictions of India. Of course, it was a commercial venture and as commercial as the koo-chi-koo romantic programs or sitcoms that were crowding the television schedules. But instead of laughing his way to the bank by showing make-believe stories, he chose to utilise the reach of television to help fight crime plaguing the society. It requires guts to face death threats but persist with something one is passionate about. India's Most Wanted helped to nab 135 fugitives. The service he did to the nation is unmatched even to this date. Yet, after such a huge contribution, he is today remembered with suspicion, all due to the verdict of being held 'guilty until proven innocent' by kangaroo courts of media houses.

Suhaib's wife Anju committed suicide on January 10, 2000 by stabbing herself to death. Three months after the incident, he was arrested for a dowry demand of Rs.10000 He was charged under Sec-498a and Sec-304B of IPC. Sec-304B considers any unnatural death of a wife within 7 years of marriage as dowry death. The sub-divisional Magistrate in his report indicated that Anju's injuries were self-inflicted and suicidal in nature. But media had already declared him as a murderer. I remember, reading reports and 'analysis' in newspapers, of 'how staying in touch with crime news can turn one's thought process also criminal'.

When one understand the facts of the cases, it comes across that it was not only that he was charged after nearly 3 months of his wife's death, but also dowry claim was a ridiculous Rs. 10000. The fight was all about the custody of his daughter. A day after the suicide, his in-laws had rejected possibility of foul play and admitted of Anju, his wife, being short-tempered. But two months later, his sister-in-law Rashmi filed the cases after he refused to give custody of his child to her. Not only that, it was his brother-in-law and father-in-law who contested the allegations charged! He was later charged with murder as well and also got acquitted. This is a clear open-and-shut case of misuse of laws.

It seemed that Suhaib during the course of his shows had stepped on toes of some politicians and the politician-mafia nexus had did him in. India which had benefited from his service should have rallied behind him, but we as a society failed him with our silence.

Suhaib embraced oblivion. The wounds that his soul has nursed can be imagined when he describes himself, first as a 'father', then everything else. He is now Editor-in-Chief at 'Bureaucracy Today'. Continuing his streak of exposing crime, his team of reporters Shalini Singh and Vandana Vasudevan busted the nexus of Kingfisher Airlines and HPCL officials which unfairly favoured the airlines incurring hefty losses to the state-unit. 

They were helped by another whistle-blower Mr. Ravi Srivastava who was hounded out, by unscrupulous corrupt people from HPCL. He was also an activist with the Anna Andolan and volunteered at Navi Mumbai Chapter of India Against Corruption. This expose has nearly brought down the KingFisher Airlines.

Fighting prickly depression and sense of persecution, Suhaib has still kept his pledge with the nation intact and still wants to impact the society positively. He is now bringing in a movie '498a - The Wedding Gift' that highlights the misuse of the dowry laws in India. This time India has a chance to correct its mistake and reward him by making this film successful. 

The onus is truly on you and me to embrace him or continue to hound him. Lets see, how India pays back for the services of its 'most wanted' son.