Today’s angry young man
Our country pushes the boundaries on how much it can frustrate its citizens
Posted On Friday, January 28, 2011 at 02:52:14 AM
Utsav Sharma, the 30-year-old NID alumnus who attacked Rajesh Talwar, father of murdered teen Aarushi at a Ghaziabad court with a cleaver on January 25, and who inflicted knife injuries on former Haryana DGP SPS Rathore a year ago in Chandigarh, might be suffering from a psychological disorder. But his acts have incited national debate and outrage. Utsav’s violent acts cannot be justified by any means but the reasons that might have led this young man to take such a drastic action are worth exploring.
Utsav claimed he was disturbed by the court’s inability to mete out justice
Utsav was a bright student and comes from a family of academicians. Utsav’s mother Dr Indira Sharma is a psychiatrist and a professor at the Institute of Medical Sciences, Benaras Hindu University, and his father S K Sharma is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at IT-BHU. Utsav received a merit scholarship while studying for his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts degree at BHU, which he reportedly topped. He graduated from NID in December after completing his post-graduate diploma in Animation Film Design. Utsav’s parents have maintained their son was under treatment for depression and was reportedly taking an anti-depressant, Flunil, at a dosage of one 60mg strip every fortnight.
As the news broke of Tuesday’s attack, shock gave way to recollection of Utsav’s attack last year on ex-Haryana DGP Rathore, the accused in the Ruchika molestation case because he felt that Rathore was not punished severely enough. The incident seemed to be a heat-of-the-moment outburst of anger. However, Tuesday’s attack with a larger weapon, speaks more of an escalating frustration towards a corrupt judicial system that fails to deliver justice. Utsav has been charged with attempted murder under section 307 of the IPC.
Indian courts are rampant with corruption and backlogs. The High Court in New Delhi is so behind in its work that it could take up to 466 years to clear all the pending cases even though the average processing time is about 5 minutes in court. Some petty disputes take decades and the super-corrupt go free. Witnesses can be bought like vegetables in a market, and bribes are solicited as a cost of getting things done. The system makes it difficult to impeach corrupt judges because a 2/3 majority vote in the parliament is needed. In a country where the ratio of judges per 1 million population is a low 12 compared to 107 in the US, it’s not surprising that high workload causes backlogs. But a delay is beneficial to all but the common man, who greases palms while running from pillar to post, looking for justice.
And once in a while, the overly frustrated common man decides to take matters into his own hands. Some make their voices heard through media campaigns and petitions. But Utsav, a creative, smart man decided to choose the violent route. What he did was wrong because violence is never the answer to life’s frustrations. But he spoke out while the rest of us were silent.
It is true that there is a fine line between creativity and madness. Creative people are sensitive to their surroundings, and those that are highly sensitive are susceptible to expressing themselves in ways that are unacceptable by society. Utsav claimed that he was disturbed by the court system’s inability to mete out justice. His parents claimed that his depression was the trigger that made him act out violently. Society blames everyone at different times Utsav, his parents, the system, mental illness. In the blame game, nothing gets resolved.
Our country pushes the boundaries on how much it can frustrate its citizens. There will be no miracle in the foreseeable future that will fix our judicial system instantly. In the meanwhile, we can choose to sit and wait for the next breaking story about another Utsav, or make our voices heard about the plague of corruption, the right way non-violently, and through mutual support.
Designer, teacher, painter, film-maker. Pravin Mishra also writes graffiti, slogans, scripts and essays