Senior members of the police have justified the ‘random shooting in the air’ during last week’s CST riots — “Our men were not firing randomly. It is just that their aim is bad. We are planning to hire bronze medallist Gagan Narang as our coach. Just watch us in 2016.”
Like most tragedies in our country, this riot too would have passed as just another event in our history, except that two deranged rioters went and destroyed the Amar Jawan Memorial. In our country, abetting arson isn’t as serious a crime as messing with patriotism. And so the hunt for the two accused began.
My tireless search found me face to face with them in a Dongri hutment an hour after the riots. “Are you guys idiots? First you smash a heritage structure, then you allow yourself to be photographed in broad daylight, and that too just before Independence Day. You guys aren’t just aggressive, you’re dumb as well,” I said firmly.
Rioter 1 said sulkily, “I wanted the rifle.” Rioter 2 said, “Yeah man, it’s so retro.” An old man shuffled into the room and addressed me in a Darth Vader-like baritone. “This modern generation of rioters. Tsk, tsk, all brawn, no brain. I gained recognition with my exploits back in the 1970 Bhivandi riots. We were Indian Houdinis.
The D & D manoeuvre, we called it. DESTROY & DISAPPEAR. I have never seen the inside of a jail in 42 years. Look at these two foolish boys, they want national recognition, whatever the price. The problem is this damn Bollywood — they’re telling me that even if the police catch them, it’ll be jail for maximum one day.
Every TV station will cover the arrest, film producers will see them, and then will come Big Boss, and movies. Soon, they can buy a house in Bandra next to Bhai (Salman Khan). I tell you, these boys will soon ruin the family business I have so carefully built.”
“Rioting is the family business?” I asked the old man, incredulous. “You’re saying I can hire you to start a riot?” “Yes, but full deposit up front. Riot has to last minimum one full day. This CST riot got over in half a day, but nobody got their money back. I tell you the 1992 riots were the best for the family business, full one month goondagardi. Bahuth paisa kamaya.”
“How much do you charge, boss?”
“We have a rate card. Riot with swords for Rs 1,500, with hockey sticks for Rs 1,000, with lathis for Rs 500, with Ladakh rocks for Rs 1,500, with regular rocks for Rs 400, with diesel for Rs 700, with kerosene for Rs 500, with petrol for Rs 2,000 — kya aag jalti hai — with regular bottle Rs 1,000 and with a Johnny Walker bottle for Rs 2,000. You can check out our website, www.maaramaari.com. You can see our ad on YouTube also.”
As I left, he handed me his visiting card. It read — MAARAMAARI ENTERPRISES: We are a stone’s throw away.
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at email@example.com
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.