Monday, November 20, 2006
posted by a correspondent at Monday, November 20, 2006

That's all I can call it. Read it here

In this Nov 14th post, Rashmi Bansal talks about the drunk driving accident in Mumbai where a bunch of youngsters drove over labourers sleeping on the pavement. Seven people died.

Drunk driving is a problem, everyone agrees. Even a couple of pegs can mess up your judgement, and nobody quarrels with that. For one, I am not generally comfortable with MSM or bloggers jumping to a judgement. We just do not have the facts available with us - but we, the media and bloggers keep implying and often stating outright that someone is guilty. My opinions on this however are quite confused, so I shall deal with that another day.

My problem is that she made certain statements and produced certain pseudo-quotes in the post, never clarified where they came from, and did not even bother when commentors pointed it out.

Here is one:

Standing in a pool of blood, near seven freshly dead bodies, they threatened the survivors. Three of them tried to wrench off the number plate of the car before giving up and scooting from the scene of the accident.

Did they? How do you know? In theoriginal post, 'they' is linked to a Yahoo news story. And that story does not mention this. How do we know that they threatened the survivors?

And then Rashmi gives us this:

We didn't mean to do it, but hey..." They were just a bunch of labourers, y'know. How hard will it be to buy our way out of it?

You feel disgusted when you read those words, but it's the plain and ugly truth.
The first italicised line - where did that come from? Rashmi does not explain it, the commenters keep pointing it and out and still no response. Forgot to check the post again? Is that a rhetorical line? If you feel disgusted when you read those words, where did you read them? Is that supposed to be the thought process of the guys who were in the car, and which Rashmi made a guess at, and then write them down, and then felt disgusted? I have no idea. I did a quick search in Google, and all I got were pages from her own blog.

All of this does not change the fact that the guys were drunk and are probably guilty. And that they may pay their way out of this. But I don't think the CNN-IBN kind of writing - over the top, over-imaginative and hyperexcited - should be allowed to thrive if possible.

That takes me to the next part.

What if Alistair Pereira and gang really threatened the survivors? What would be the reason? Sheer arrogance or fear?

I have no idea why they threatened the survivors, but I know one thing. Once an accident happens, you are at risk of physical harm. Anywhere in India. Screaming and shouting and getting aggressive is a normal, instinctive human tactic to get away from a situation like that. In a few minutes a crowd would have gathered, and if they stood their guiltily, soon they would be beaten up, and the girl among them might be molested. This has happened so many times over in our country. Shout and people back off for a while.

Sure, that is not how it should be. The survivors should be picked up and driven to the nearest hospital, admitted there, a police report should be filed. Try doing all that, and you might be dead before you know it. And then the media, and bloggers, can write posts about how valiantly the driver tried, but a violent mob killed him. Should the driver, guilty or not, stand their and accept the beatings as his immediate and instant punishment?

Crap is what happens when a system does not work. It is the state's job to ensure that people have a safe place to sleep, and a state which can't do it is a beggarly state. We can't ensure that. We can't ensure that roads are wide enough. We can't ensure that there are enough cops to check vehicles at night for drunk drivers. We can't ensure that roads are wide, and that people don't die after their scooters lose control after hitting potholes. We can't ensure that drunk or not, if a driver loses control for whatever reason and climbs over the footpath, there are no people sleeping on them. We can't ensure that if someone jumps in front of your car, and breaks a leg, the crowd won't break the legs of your entire family in the car. We can't do shit. Why do we even crib when people try to fend for themselves?

At 1:21 AM, Anonymous

That's the most sane reaction I've seen after the incident. Wish the TV channels would learn that heated opinion doesn't equal fact.


At 10:03 AM, Gaurav

AS your blog say, our post can also be called bakwaas. Whereas I agree that Rashmi has gone overboard with mixing facts with literary imaginations, I dont think that what you are saying here is either about facts. Fact is that It was proven that that man was driving rashly and under influence of alcohol and so he is guilty of killing those people and should haven't been let off that easliy.

But you are dead right about bloggers and rashmi's post. Good