Racist ‘Justice’ In Berlo’s Italy
Nearly fifty years ago, courts in India did away with the jury system, after a jury in Mumbai had acquitted Cawas Manekshaw Nanavati of the murder of Prem Ahuja. The naval officer had come across his undressed wife and Ahuja at the latter’s flat, and almost involuntarily, his hands reached for the service revolver at his side, and pressed the trigger. His UK-born wife Sheila was a woman known in the naval colony where she lived as both being very beautiful and a great flirt. Clearly, the English girl was not happy at the low salary of her husband, and was swept up by the much wealthier Ahuja, with whom she soon began spending afternoons. After months, word of such trysts reached Commander Nanavati, who went to Ahuja’s flat to investigate, a visit that ended in the businessman’s death.
India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, did not trust the people of India, although he spoke and wrote in praise for them. This mistrust resulted in him insisting on retaining the colonial system of law, complete with codes and procedures. He also retained the entire civil service mechanism that had been perfected by the British as an instrument of control. Indeed, so complete was Nehru’s admiration for British-oriented Indians that he gave the top job in the External Affairs Ministry to Sir Girija Shankar Bajpai, who had passionately argued in numerous world capitals that the people of India were unfit to govern themselves, and that rule from London should continue indefinitely. In a country truly committed to change, this would have earned Bajpai either prison or exile. But in Nehru’s India, he and all others who fought against freedom were honoured and given top jobs. When Nehru heard of the verdict of innocence in the Ahuja murder case, he lost his temper and saw to it that the jury system was cast overboard across the country. From then onwards, the sole responsibility for ascertaining the guilt or innocence of an accused would lie with the magistrate or judge, with the general public reduced to the status of observers. This was in line with Nehruvian ideology, which gives all powers to the governmental authorities, even in matters that in a democracy ought to be within the discretion of the citizen. Even to this day, the colonial structure of governance retained by Nehru ensures that a citizen has to petition the government in myriad ways throughout his or her lifetime, petitions that usually get granted only after bribes get paid. Not surprisingly, corrupt officials and politicians swear by the Nehruvian system, as it guarantees them riches. To take just one example, much of the family of Sheikh Abdullah, the “Lion of Kashmir” spend vast stretches of time in London, living there on a scale that can only be described as luxurious. Given that Sheikh Abdullah’s son Farooq has been a full-time politician for more than three decades (on a measly salary) as is the case with his own son Omar, it is difficult to guess how a family with such a low salary income can afford to live so luxuriously in London and Dubai.
The Abdullah family is not alone. Almost every family that is linked to top political leaders enjoys a similar standard of living, that too in the most expensive cities of the world. Small wonder that they and the officials who join in the spoils—are refusing to surrender the colonial powers that they have been enjoying for more than six decades after the country became Independent. Even in a matter such as trial by jury (which ought to be the right of any citizen), the public has been removed from any say. Of course, it must be admitted that in the Nanavati case, the jury’s verdict of “not guilty” was wrong. Clearly, emotion got the better of reason. However, this was not reason enough to abandon the entire system of Trial by Jury. Now Italy has given another example of how a jury can be influenced by subjective factors and give a verdict that flies in the face of the evidence. Four years ago, a mixed-race woman, Meredith Kircher, was brutally attacked and murdered by a set of pathological individuals. Despite a media campaign in the US to free her, suspect Amanda Knox and her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Solecito were sent to jail for a term of 26 years. With a viciousness belied by her innocent looks, Amanda Knox sought to implicate an innocent black man of the crime. In Italy, people are trained by history and by tradition to look upon people of a dark hue with suspicion, so on the word of Knox, the man was arrested. However, after he was jailed on the false charges provided by Knox, the truth came out and he was released. A second Black man was jailed as an accomplice to Knox and Solecito. Now, four years later, only the Black man is in jail. Solecito and Knox are free, even though he was only found guilty of being their helper in the heinous torture, rape and murder of the mixed-race Meredith Kircher. Clearly, the Italian judges and jury do not see the absurdity of finding Knox and Solecito not guilty, but their presumed accomplice still guilty. If only the jailed man looked First World, the way the other two do, perhaps he too would be free.
Italy is a society where racism exists in strong doses. Some time ago, a gypsy girl drowned off a beach in that country. There were more than three thousand onlookers sunning themselves on the beach and even in the water. However, because the girl was a gypsy, not a single person swam up to her and saved her. Instead, several taunted her from the seashore, hurling abuse at her and at gypsies in general. If India had a government less dominated by an exaggerated respect for its former colonial masters and their lands, it would have focussed on the Roma people of Europe and given them the $2 billion that was donated recently to the very European financial institutions that lent recklessly to countries only because they were European. However, not a euro has gone to the Roma, who remain persecuted and discriminated against in a Europe obsessed with ethnicity. Here in India, the Italian relatives of a prominent family take care to remain as far apart from Indians as possible on their visits to the country, mixing mostly with Europeans from embassies and business houses. Thus far, although they visit the country often and use government-provided facilities liberally, they have not given a single interview to an Indian publication. Of course, given the fear that the Indian media have of offending VVIPs, neither have they been bothered by any papparazzi.
India is no Europe Each time television cameras panned to where the mother of Meredith Kircher was standing, viewers could see that she had a Third World appearance, unlike the two defendants and their families, all of whom were First World and looked it. Small wonder that the judges and the jury gave the two First Worlders the benefit of the doubt, ignoring the Third World unfortunate still jailed as an accessory (to culprits found innocent) as well as the pain and suffering of Meredith Kircher’s mother. The parents of Knox and Solecito must know the truth about their children, and neither has lost a child the way the mother of the victim has. By its perverse judgment, based on “evidence” helpfully supplied to it by the well-paid defence team, the judges and the jury in Perugia that acquitted Knox and Solecito have once again shown that the ideological foundation of the European Union is built on the principle of ethnicity. And as this columnist has pointed out since the early 1990s, this is the precise reason why the “Europeans Only” experiment will fail, in a world where multiculturalism is a must for human advancement.
By their frank adherence to racism, the authorities in the EU do an injustice to their citizens. Even in the 1930s, there were hundreds of thousands of Britons who wanted to see India free, just as slavery was defeated by millions of Americans guided by Abraham Lincoln. Indeed, it can be said that the peoples of Europe are—on balance—the most liberal in the world, and the group least prone to the sort of nihilism that has been seen in places such as Rawanda, with Bosnia being the exception. Unless the EU adopts a policy on migration and on trade that is based on the universality of humankind rather than the exceptionalism of the European, it will fail, the way Italian justice has in the tragic case of Meredith Kircher.
By MD Nalapat