Dead, In Letter And Spirit
Democracy in India has today become a hollow sham and the State an instrument of terror and extortion.
illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu
Shortly after the hijacking of the Kathmandu-Delhi Indian Airlines flight IC-814 in December 1999, the Indian government decided to emulate the Israelis and appoint armed 'Sky Marshals' to fly on all IA and Alliance Air flights. The cost of this extreme step, in terms of pay, allowances, expenses and revenue foregone by the two airlines, is enormous, and the responsibility thrust upon the Marshals is correspondingly great. How have they fulfilled it? The answer to this question was provided on June 23 in the Hindustan Times by Swati Chaturvedi, in a report titled 'Marshals, the New Terror of the Skies'. It gave details of five (out of 15) reported instances in which Sky Marshals misbehaved with the flight staff, often in obscene ways; insisted on flying business class despite the fact that this would effectively prevent them from performing any policing functions whatever; refused to go through flight security checks; reported for duty dead drunk; and in one case gang-raped an air hostess in Kalina, Mumbai. Till the time of writing, the report had evoked absolutely no...