If you are monied and influential enough you go scot-free in spite of committing the most heinous crime. In India, we have got used to these kind of incidents. What is worse is – if, you are poor you may get convicted for someone else’s crime.
You have to be a strong believer of karma and rebirth to feel OK with the social injustice meted out on a poor fellow by the combined forces of the state and the media after watching the movie Dhananjoy, which is based on the real life trial and conviction of Dhananjay Chatterjee.
Dhananjay Chatterji was held guilty and and hanged for raping and murdering Hetal Parekh – a fourteeen year old school girl – on 05 Mar 1990 at her flat in the apartment complex where Dhananjay was a security guard.
The media went on a frenzy to brand Dhananjay a rapist and murderer even before the trial began. As Dhananjay’s family could not pay the fees, his lawyer lost all interest in the case. Based only on circumstantial evidences Dhananjay was held guilty by the trial court. The verdict was upheld by the High Court and the Supreme Court. The pressure of vote bank from the influential Gujrati Community was so much that the wife of the then West Bengal CM Budhadeba Bhattacharya held public rallies demanding death penalty for the accused. Public opinion to paint Dhananjoy a monster was kept up through out the trial and his consideration of mercy plea by the president of India till he was finally hanged to death on 14.08. 2004.
Later on many inconsistencies in the so called circumstantial evidences surfaced. Three professors of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata did extensive research and published the details of the inconsistencies and a probable sequence of events based on their collection of evidences in a book. The movie- Dhananjoy- is based on this book.
If the inconsistencies mentioned in the book ( as I learn from the movie) are true, the probability of Dhananjay being innocent is very high. Certain facts which were not taken into account while pronouncing the verdict are as follows:
- All the twenty one or so injury mark are only on the upper part of the body. If it was a rape some injury marks were expected in the lower parts as well.
- There was proof of sexual intercourse, but there was no conclusive proof of rape. Even the forensic report said so.
- When Hetal’s mother discovers her injured (already dead) body, in stead of seeking medical help as a first thought, the first thing she does is she shouts to know the whereabouts of Dhananjay.
There are so many inconsistencies in the statements of witnesses that even a layman (provided he is totally unbiased) would award Dhananajy at least a benefit of doubt. But, forget about a benefit of doubt, this poor security guard who could not afford a costly lawyer, was held guilty and hanged to death. (Contrast this with the recent case of a film director who hired a costly lawyer, Kapil Sibal in this case and got exonerated of rape charges from the High Court. This director is also well connected in the left liberal circle of Lyuten’s Delhi)
Even the communist government in power, that prides itself for standing for the poorest of the poor and social justice, sided with the moneyed Gujarti Community in this case and went overboard in demanding death penalty for the accused. Dhananjay’s karma was so poor that, the then president of India, who rejected his mercy petition, himself hailed from a poor family.
Coincidentally, the previous day I had watched the English movie – Jack Reacher. The base plot line of the movie thinly resembles Dhananjoy, except that in this Hollywood movie the innocent convict is saved by a powerful duo of an attorney and an ex-Army officer from Military Police. Another difference is that the movie Jack Reacher is not based on real life incidents.
Justice and fair play for the poor and the innocent happen after all. Of course, in the land of fiction.