Thursday, 12 December 2019

Unsteely steal

Updated: January 22, 2011 1:55 pm

India That Is Bharat

It is a sad commentary on our age of instant education in everything that even today there are people without adequate training in the trade they take up. One of them is how is steal. Satiricus is shocked to see that these days thieves are either ignominiously ignorant of the profession they profess or criminally careless in their calling.

                Take this thief in a town in Europe. He went to rob a bank, but it was not a bank, it was the building of the local municipality. He waved his pistol and shouted, “Hold-up, hold-up!” But when a municipal employee kindly explained to him where he was, he fled. Satiricus was aghast. Even the illiterate journalist that he is, Satiricus would have read the sign-board on the building to make sure that he was going to rob a bank with money, not a municipality without money.

                Then there was a team of three thieves in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, who stole a whole cash-dispensing ATM machine and hauled it down a flight of stairs with a rope only to find that they had grabbed a check deposit machine by mistake. See? Should bank robbers bank upon success without some basic knowledge of banking?

                Fortunately, Indian thieves are apparently not so ignobly ignorant. Rather they seem to be quite techno-savvy. How else can Satiricus explain the ATM thefts that keep taking place in Mumbai, the banking hub and commercial capital of the country?

                And if this means Indian thieves are more knowledgeable about their job than others, the reason could well be that they were the first to get regular education in their profession. For Satiricus recalls reading in the papers years ago that someone was running a regular school for pickpockets in Mumbai. Satiricus even remembers that this educational institute of thieving technology had rigorous practicals. For instance, in one advanced lesson an earthen pot with a round bottom (‘matka’) was put upside down, then covered with thin cloth, and then the student was taught how to slit the cloth so gently that not a scratch showed on the pot.

                Whether this school is still functioning Satiricus does not know, but apparently the importance of education in successful stealing is still appreciated. For, the other day, a man in a Mumbai suburb was found running a school for pickpockets and chain-snatchers. Unfortunately, the man is now in jail and his expertise is going waste. This would not have happened, if he had written a textbook for thieves as a Japanese burglar recently did. He wrote a book on how to pick locks, steal, and get away. Ten thousand copies of the book, priced at ten pounds per copy, sold out in ten days. Satiricus looks forward to an Indian edition.

‘Phoney’ problem

Marrying modern technology to an ancient tenet is a tricky business. Especially when that technology means a telephone. But apparently this problem could not prevent the righteously resourceful Darul Uloom of Deoband from serving the institution of marriage with what can only be called a phoney fatwa. For, the other day, the techno-savvy mullahs of this treasure house of Islamic learning issued a fatwa ruling that “talaq” uttered thrice by a Muslim man on a mobile phone will be considered valid even if his wife is unable to hear it all the three times due to network or some other technical fault. See? Triple talaq and telephone technology need not go together.

                But here this Hindu ignoramus has a numerical problem. How can a triple talaq become Islamically acceptable after being reduced to, say, a double talaq by an un-Islamic inadequacy in transmission? In that case, would not a landline phone serve Islam better? Of course, there too is that eternal problem—the wrong number. What if the wrong lady came on the line?

                So the best way to tackle talaq would be what actually happened somewhere some years ago. The papers had reported that a Muslim husband walking along the road saw his wife going somewhere. He stopped her in the street, uttered talaq thrice, and walked on—a free man. See? No phoney problem, mobile or immobile.

                Wait, wait. To this ignoramus’s utter amazement he finds that this fabulous facility of triple talaq may at least at times work against the social benefits of the fourfold freedom to marry. Take, for instance, the very recent case of this history-sheeter by name Atique Shaikh. The other day, this hardened criminal gave himself up at a local court. Why? Because his four wives and 28 children persuaded him to do so. Well, now, what can a stunned Satiricus say to that? Except that this criminal has shown a brand new way to fight crime. Surely, social scientists should be impressed. For, would this criminal have reformed himself had he not a full complement of four wives to aid and abet his innate honesty? Would he have given up his career of crime if he had misused triple talaq triple times and criminally brought down the number of his much better halves to a solitary single spouse? Satiricus very much doubts. In fact, Satiricus is sure Shaikh’s commendable contribution to the fight against crime would not have been high enough to hit the headlines.

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