I am anything but religious, ritualistic. But when I searched for a metaphor that would scale up to the fanatical intensity with which the Reddy brothers went about upturning the soil in the mining hotbeds of Karnataka, it was all for naught. Finally I took refuge in a religious metaphor, hoping that it would somehow come close to vocalising the crime: blasphemy.
If you sit down and think about what happened right under our nose for years on end, you would know that it was an historic blunder that India should have, and could have, set right with one shot: Let the legal framework take its course.
But that was not to be! So this requires an explanation that’s beyond the everyday vocabulary, mundane expressions. It feels as if it all happened out of the blue. Like in some forgotten mythological horror flick where dark demonic forces burst out of the subterranean, the nether regions of the Earth, and inflict blisters on her.
Otherwise, how else would we describe thousands of fertile acres reduced to a vast barren landscape in a short while? How do we digest the fact that it would take forever for the mined areas to regain their original composition and even then, it may never be the same soil ever again?
How do we begin to fathom the deeply criminal acts perpetrated on the innocent people living in and around the mined areas? How will the people, who are still suffering immeasurable pain and anguish, come to terms with the reality that it took many generations to build a society, a life, but a few individuals to tear it asunder?
How on earth can we forgive the state government for its well-orchestrated complicity as it clapped along while the Reddy brothers presided over the destruction? How to accept the Central government’s peculiar silence until almost everything was lost?
Most importantly, how can we forgive ourselves? We did, in all fairness, put up with this nonstop dread and hoped that someday it would all crumble like a set of dominoes?
The horrifying effects of this unprecedented mining scandal will ring through the noise of the day and the silence of the night for many generations to come. For this phenomenon has given a different meaning to words like ‘greed’, ‘power’ and ‘vulgarity’—setting ‘a new normal’ to what were once simple human predicaments.
So, it’s not over. Not just yet.
“Old sins have long shadows”, don’t they?