As I Write this post there has been an event rolled again and again on Indian TV news channels of a chain snatcher tied to the back of a motor cycle and dragged to the police station. He was beaten black and blue. (

Incidentally Last night I was watching this movie called GANGAJAL a hindi flick, A film based on BHAGALPUR Blindings ( a real life incident a couple of decades ago. The film has loads of action it is touching yet, thought provoking scenes. Its a about a superintendent of police (Police officer incharge of a district) an upright officer who is strangled and fights back the feudal criminals.

The film name letrally means Holy water of the Ganges, but the meaning it intends to portray in the film is the holy water to cleanse the evil and bad. In the film Gangajal is not water its acid used to blind the criminals who have gone beyond any reformation or handling even for the police.

Ajay Devgan and Gracy Singh in Gangaajal

Amit Kumar (Ajay Devgan) is the new Superintendent of Police in charge of a notorious district in Bihar called Tejpur.Tejpur, which lies on the banks of the Ganga, is a particularly lawless town ruled by the father-son duo of Sadhu and Sundar Yadav (Mohan Joshi and Yashpal Sharma). Even the DIG of police, Amit’s boss, and the state home minister turn their eyes away from the Yadavs’ crimes.Moreover, just about every officer working under Amit is on their payroll.

So what does he do ? A wonderful depiction of the internal struggle within the department and also the protagonist make the film visibly worthwhile watching.

So when Amit tries to clean up the system, he meets with stiff resistance from within and without. His idealism rubs off on one of his subordinates, Bachha Yadav (Mukesh Tiwari), who turns against his mentor Sadhu Yadav and stands by his boss.

When Bachha and three of his subordinates vent their frustrations on two of Sundar’s cronies in police lock-up by blinding them with acid (a reference to the Bhagalpur Blindings of 1979-1980 when 30 undertrials were blinded by policemen), the situation spirals into a crisis that gets out of everyone’s hands, including that of the filmmaker.

Dr Mohan Joshi (extreme left) and Ajay Devgan (extreme right) in GangaajalI loved the words that the protagonist spells out at the end of the film “though ultimately, this would also leave to a totally intolerant society – where any voice of free press or opinions would be crushed ruthlessley.”

According to the Director himself : ‘Gangajal is a dramatic journey of an individual into the collective consciousness of the society. It eventually becomes an intense meditation on the mechanics of crime and punishment.’But the brutal way in which the criminals were terated when the community as a whole feels an uprising is wonderful. I know many of us would not support the blindings of even enemies but thats what is called blind to facts coz no action can be judged from some body else’s conciousness. What if you are an american and look at the Indian political scene and feeling everybody is corrupt and this and that. So is Indian perception of America as a greener pasture while an approximate 3,500 schools without basic infrastructure. Its all perception and human rights cant be onesided. I dont mean to support brutality but I support rights of individuals only after the community.

The mechanics of crime and punishment in the face of relentless populist pressures is a matter that confronts the deputy prime minister in particular, charged as he is with preserving order and enforcing the law at a time when the relentless onslaught of terrorists provokes outcries for quick and often extra-legal solutions. The enacting of POTA to facilitate convictions, and the ever-increasing frequency of ‘encounters’ with alleged terrorists show which way the reed is bending.

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