A Miracle in Shanthinadu

Chandan Gowda

A young Sajjan horse trader, who had bought a couple of fine stallions at a horse fair and was taking them to sell at another fair in a neighbouring state, had been waylaid at night by Suguna horse vigilantes. They had demanded money to let him pass. When the horse trader refused saying he had done no wrong, they let him go, they beat him to death and fled from there.

The local media underplayed this event since the ruling Ekta Party held the horse as a sacred animal and also believed that the nation belonged to the Suguna community and that Sajjans had no place in it. But the horse trader’s death made the people of Shanthinadu uneasy.  The photos of the innocent man lying dead by the wayside and of his grieving widow and two children drew out anger in the peace-loving people of the region.

The supporters of the Ekta Party, in particular, became very upset: why were their leaders staying quiet when a human being had been brutally killed? None of them had visited the aggrieved family to offer condolences; they had not hauled up the police for letting the murderers flee the state. Only one explanation seemed likely: the Ekta Party expected the fatal assault on a member of the Sajjan community to please the Suguna voters and get them to vote for them in bigger numbers.

The Ekta Party had misjudged its supporters.  Whatever one’s ideology, the latter felt, ethics came first: there were limits to what one did to gain power. If they kept quiet now, their party would regard that as support for the heinous act and inflict more violence on the Sajjans. Inaction at this time would also begin to corrode the moral core of their faith. Perhaps irreparably.

The members of the Suguna community shared their unhappiness about the ruling party’s indifference to the murder with their neighbours, friends and family wherever possible: homes, workplaces, schools, colleges, whatsapp groups, weddings, gyms…everywhere. Letters, postcards, sms-es and emails flooded the Ekta Party’s headquarters and social media platforms.

Sensing a clear trend on the ground, the media – the newspapers, radio and tv channels, the web news portals – started to cover the growing moral pressure.  If they didn’t side with the truth now, they reasoned, they would be forced to take the side of non-truth in the days to come. The experience of polarised societies abroad had clearly shown how a media group’s readiness to peddle falsehood on behalf of vested interests ended up destroying scope for honest discussions.

The student wing of Ekta Party, which was full of bright young men and women, also sat up feeling that murder for political gain was simply not done. Their love for the country, they decided, was meaningless if they didn’t act by the highest moral standards: it was only proper that they demand a public apology from their leaders and not mechanically support whatever they did.  Many MLAs of the Ekta Party, who had stayed silent out of fear of the party higher ups, called a press conference to express their sorrow about the tragic murder and swore to ensure that such events did not recur in Shanthinadu.  Writers, business leaders, film stars, sport celebrities and all other shapers of public opinion joyously applauded them.  

Amidst all the ferment shone a clear truth: the country must be accepted with all its diversities. An epiphanic moment for the state leaders of the Ekta Party, they officially shed their party’s view that the country belonged only to the Suguna community and declared that it belonged to all.  The all-round optimism and goodwill found on this occasion made the people convene a meeting of all political parties and get them to commit to securing the sanctity of a democracy in all that they did.