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The whole of Bangalore is talking about a tragic incident late Saturday night,  between 1 and 2 am, in the heart of Bangalore, very close to the famous M G Road.

A B Com student, who was involved in drag racing, fell to bullets fired by sentries guarding an army compound into which he entered while trying to flee the cops who had flagged him down. This is the sequence of events for readers who aren’t familiar with the incident:

  • The boy, Mohd Mukarram Khan, was involved in drag racing on M G Road along with his friend.
  • Police waved him down, since drag racing is illegal; a bigger crime when done on city’s main roads.
  • Mukarram did not stop and tried to flee.
  • Police gave him a chase. The bike skidded and toppled. The two fell. Mukarram, got into a compound (which turned out to be a defence area) to escape. His friend fled somewhere else.
  • Mukarram climbed the roof of a building (which turned out to be a top officer’s residence) and hid there.
  • From there, he made calls on the mobile, describing his situation and asked for a car to be dispatched.
  • After some time, when the car came, he jumped from the terrrace and ran towards the car.
  • The guards — who were all the while searching the premises for the intruder — saw him hiding in the terrace and making the calls, just before the car came.
  • On being challenged by the guards, he fled. While fleeing, he was shot by the Army sentries.
  • He was hit in the abdomen. Whoever came in the car took him to a hospital, where he was declared dead. The people who brought him, told the hospital that the boy was injured in an accident and immediately left the place.

Everyone feels a precious life was lost for nothing. In all the discussion that is on, one important point is forgotten. We all have the benefit of hindsight, and the benefit of knowing who Mukarram was. The sentries who fired the shot, didn’t know who this intruder was. This is a very crucial point that is not recognised. There is simply no point in blaming the sentry.

I feel a number of lessons need to be learnt — not just by Bangaloreans but by all Indians — from this unfortunate incident.

  1. These are troubled times in every way. If drag racing is illegal, just don’t do it. As simple as that. Why do all these things in the dead of night, when you should be sleeping.
  2. If cops or even a private security guard, stops you, for Heaven’s sake, STOP. Whether you are right or wrong, just stop. The cops are doing their duty. If you were on the wrong side of law, apologise, and sort the matter out. (Mukarram’s friends or folks with whom he spoke could have told him to just give up and surrender to the guard and admit the mistake of running to a protected zone. I am sure being a localite, he would have realised before long where he had run into.)
  3. We need to be  a lot more disciplined in our public lives. We are a nation that has no respect even for a traffic light.

It’s time introspect and make sure such tragedies don’t happen.

  1. Drag race is considered an adventurous sport. Respect that and provide a dedicated place and time for the guys.
  2. Educate adrenalin-rich guys (and may be even some girls!) on the need to obey laws, and be disciplined Indians. This may take ages for results to be seen, but a beginning needs to be and can be made.
  3. The police and defence forces in partnership with the media can carry out campaigns to educate people about the troubled times we live in and to be cautious always. For example, if someone asks for your identity, show him or her; instead of flaunting your ego.
  4. Never violate a security guard’s suggestions or commands. It’s for our own safety those guys are toiling. Security personnels’ job is a thankless one, they don’t have the sort of fun we all have at work. Let us cooperate with them.
  5. Remember, defence (mainly army) guys have their finger on their trigger always. Unlike police they shoot to kill.

May Mukarram’s soul rest in peace. Let never such incidents happen, especially because of our carelessness.

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The August 17 issue of the Los Angeles Times has a wonderfully written piece by Henry Chu on R K Laxman, India’s celebrated cartoonist. The introduction (what in journalese is called an “intro”) is a model for communication students.

R K Laxman at his desk in Pune. Photo by Vilas Avachat for the Times.

R K Laxman at his desk in Pune. Photo by Vilas Avachat for the Times.

His career has outlasted more than a dozen governments. The Mr. Magoo-like face of his most beloved character has been immortalized on a postage stamp and adopted as the official symbol of one of India’s low-cost airlines. Many of his fans have started their day with him for longer than they have with their husbands or wives.

R.K. Laxman is India’s premier newspaper cartoonist, a celebrated satirist and keen political and social observer who has been drawing his trademark panels for the Times of India for 60 years, many of them featuring the permanently bemused Common Man, his most famous creation and a national icon.

Read more here

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