This was originally on newstatesman.com.by Arundhati Roy
The law locks up the hapless felonwho steals the goose from off the common,
but lets the greater felon loose
who steals the common from the goose.
Anonymous, England, 1821
In the early morning hours of the 2nd of July 2010, in the remote forests of Adilabad, the Andhra Pradesh State Police fired a bullet into the chest of a man called Cherukuri Rajkumar, known to his comrades as Azad. Azad was a member of the Polit Bureau of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and had been nominated by his party as its chief negotiator for the proposed peace talks with the Government of India. Why did the police fire at point-blank range and leave those telltale burn marks, when they could so easily have covered their tracks? Was it a mistake or was it a message?
They killed a second person that morning — Hem Chandra Pandey, a young journalist who was traveling with Azad when he was apprehended. Why did they kill him? Was it to make sure no eyewitness remained alive to tell the tale? Or was it just whimsy?
In the course of a war, if, in the preliminary stages of a peace negotiation, one side executes the envoy of the other side, it’s reasonable to assume that the side that did the killing does not want peace. It looks very much as though Azad was killed because someone decided that the stakes were too high to allow him to remain alive. That decision could turn out to be a serious error of judgment. Not just because of who he was, but because of the political climate in India today.
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