Mhatre, our assistant high commissioner in Birmingham, was kidnapped and killed by the JKLF to free Maqbool Butt and much later, following the destruction of Babri Masjid, the residence of our consul-general in Karachi, Rajiv Dogra, was ransacked. But never did our hallowed foreign service reach for the holster as they have done now. Nothing, not the CIA, PLA or ISI has roused this country to come together against a common enemy as this. It took just one perfidious, conspiring maid to stand up and ask for her rights.
This paper hasn’t been spared either for daring to advise against going overboard, and for pointing out the inconvenient fact that there is another person, a poor maid, also involved and probably (and I use this line with trepidation as it’s been in bad odour lately) there are two versions of this story. Or put it another way. If you wanted to see an entirely new manifestation of journalism of courage, you should have been an Indian Express editorial writer walking through the lawns of Delhi’s Hyderabad House on Thursday, peopled by a bevy of MEA officers at the minister’s annual year-end lunch for the media. Having survived many sniper alleys in my career, my instincts recognise one almost immediately.
The Devyani Khobragade, or rather the Devyani-Sangeeta (remember, the maid?), case is complex as it involves three tricky factors: class, caste and caste. Wait a few moments for me to explain why I use “caste” twice. Class, because in a row between master and servant, class will always triumph and so Khobragade must be right. Caste, first because Khobragade is from a Dalit family and so the insult is compounded. And caste for the second time because, in the caste hierarchy of sarkar-i-hind, the highest caste of all, the Brahmins of Brahminism, is the Indian Foreign Service. If that upstart Preet Bharara dares to read his rotten Manhattan law to an Indian diplomat, he will be made to pay. Uski naani yaad dila denge. Or maybe even get some uncle of his in Jalandhar or wherever charged with atrocities under the SC/ST act and show him how effectively India’s legal reform works. If only when it chooses to. Truth to tell, instead of cursing Bharara, we should try and import him as our first lokpal.
It is early for us to pronounce on the merits of the case yet, except that you