About a month back, RTI, aka Rights of Information act activist, Satish Shetty, was killed in Pune. It was indeed a sad day.
But the assassination details puzzle me. What puzzles me is not that how he was killed one day before he was going to get police protection. Obviously the people who were out to kill him were either well connected or extremely lucky.
He was killed in broad daylight in a cruel manner, by swords and daggers. Even this fact does not puzzle me.
What puzzles me is what Satish was doing alone outside his house, taking scheduled walks to scheduled spots, when he had received death threats.
The newspapers mention that he was out for his “usual morning walk” and was standing by a newspaper stand reading newspaper when he was attacked.
If I were to attack and kill someone, I could not have asked for anything more than a person who follows a regular routine to go outside the house and can be found , standing still outside the house, distracted, alone, carrying no weapon. In other words totally defenseless target as easy as sitting duck.
Given the fact the other activists like him were attacked before (the Hindu article lists seven attacks on about 10 activists from 2002 to 2009), shouldn’t he be more careful? Shouldn’t he be laying low for a few days after getting death threats? Not hanging out of his house so conspicuously? It was only matter of 24 hours before he was going to receive police protection.
When I read about Shivaji, at every moment I see Shivaji outsmarting his opponents by rational and almost paranoid fear. For Afzal Khan, he insisted meeting on Maratha home ground. First they agreed on five thousands guards, which Shivaji requested to cut down to thousand guards, which further reduced to eight guards, which he further requested to cut down to only one body guard for Khan. Then he postponed the meeting time twice, carried two body guards with him, and additionally covered himself from head to toe in armor and weapons. Only that point he ventured out.
By taking precautions, by not following a schedule, wearing armor, carrying firearm, taking a few friends with him all the time, Satish Shetty could have made matters considerably complicated for his enemy. And he might be still with his today.
Am I finding out mistakes of Satish Shetty? Might be. Do I think myself smarter or more committed or in any way better than Satish Shetty? Do I have no respect for Satish Shetty? No, that’s not the case.
We, as a society have to come out of the mindset that critically examining someones thoughts or actions is not disrespecting them. Its actually respecting them. It reminds me of a story from the book “Surely you must be joking Mr. Feynman”, by noted physicist Richard Feynman.
Once Feynman had to give a talk on Einstein’s theory of relativity. About 24 hours before the talk, someone delivered him a great news. Einstein himself was going to attend the talk.
Feynman’s heart sank in his boots. Because he was going to criticize Einstein’s theory of relativity. He was barely a Ph D student and Einstein was already a world known scientist.
Feynman barely scratched up enough courage and gave his talk. At the end of the talk, Einstein told him that he liked Feynman’s line of thinking but more proof was required to discredit the theory of relativity. Then Einstein patted Feynman on the back and simply walked away.
The point and purpose of this post is to respect Satish Shetty. I am the fresh student Feynman here and Satish Shetty is Einstein. I hope to add my few cents to Satish’s mission by giving some ideas to the people who will be following in his footsteps. Because we all have a common enemy.
Long Live Satish Shetty. You were a great man.