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By  S.M.  Shahid.

“Two persons became very famous during the martial law regime of General Ayub Khan,” said Babboo.

“Who were they?”

“Pir Sahib of Dewal Sharif and Mohammad Khan.”

“Who was Mohammad Khan?”

“He was a daku.”

“Oh!”

“Are you surprised?”

“Somewhat. There must have been many other people who were equally famous, or became famous in those days, whose names and photographs appeared in newspapers — civil servants, army generals, big businessmen…”

“… yes, but how many had heard of Pir Sahib Dewal Sharif and Mohammad Khan daku? Both were inconsequential individuals who went about their business in their own constituencies.”

“So what are you trying to say?”

“I just wanted to throw at you some food for thought this morning.”

“You have a knack of using inappropriate words; instead of ‘throw’ you could have used the word ‘give’.”

“I am sorry if the word ‘throw’ reminds you of a chaupaya which is reputed to be man’s best friend!”

“It’s alright. You said Pir Sahib Dewal Sharif and Mohammad Khan daku became famous during the Ayub Khan days. So what?”

“Forget Pir Sahib for the moment. Let’s discuss Mohammad Khan daku today! We may start with the premise that in our culture the institution of dakaiti has a tradition. It has found a rather romantic place in our psyche. As children, we learnt stories of the exploits of dakus with bated breath, and hardly felt any abhorrence towards them.”

“I am unable to get your point.”

“The point is the adherents of this tradition have somehow lost their character and style. Today it disturbs me to see deterioration in their professionalism.”

“What?”

“The daku is no more the heroic character of our childhood and there is no romance associated with his name any more.”

“Romance? You think the profession of dakaiti is romantic?”

“Why, have you forgotten the tales of the exploits of Sultana Daku, Bhoopat Daku and the legendary dakuon ki Malka Phoolan Devi? There was a quixotic quality attached to their persona.”

“That’s because the writers and newspapermen of those days had nothing very interesting to write about, so they used their pen to romanticise outlaws.”

“Whatever the reason, you must remember that those daredevils earned their popularity and fame because of their philanthropic work.”

“Philanthropic work?”

“Yes, they robbed the rich to help the poor.”
“You should remember that today there are far too many dakus in our country and too few policemen. They outnumber the law enforcement personnel and don’t look like dakus. They are educated, well-dressed and powerful individuals who not only command respect in society but their loot maar activities are also on a much larger scale,” said Babboo.

“You mean the present-day dakus rob the poor to help the rich?”

“In a way, yes. They rob the poor, as well as the rich, to enrich themselves and their patrons.”

“But, yaar, robbery is robbery, whether you rob the rich to help the poor, or rob the poor to help the rich — or rob both the poor and the rich to enrich yourself…”

“Okay, I agree with you. I suppose dakaiti is not something you would like your children to adopt as a profession. Particularly now, when you see that the present day daku lacks idealism and has no goal ahead of him.”

“Idealism? Goal? kia bakwas kar rahe ho?”

“The problem is you take too much time to grasp any assumption that is new and unique; it must be something trite and obvious to make it compatible with your intellect. Bhai, I am referring to a kind of upright motivation that we found in the dakus of yore — like taking revenge from those who exploited the poor and the weak. Even in the West, Robin Hood and company did this kind of social service. We no more find such blue blooded dakus today. Devoid of any principles, the present day dakus are in a hurry and their style is vulgar. They want to get rich overnight and they don’t believe in pick and choose. On the other hand, look at Phoolan Devi! She assembled all the rich and powerful thakurs in the village square and bumped them off.”

“Subhan Allah! What an abominable expose!” I exclaimed.

Babboo ignored my remark and said, “In the good old days, this high-risk profession was adopted only by the brave. Today it is glutted with upstarts.”

“Bus karo yaar! What about the law?” I cried. “There was the law then, and there is the law now — which says that dakaiti is a horrendous crime. The dakus must be caught, punished and exterminated.”

“Who will exterminate them?”

“The police, who else?”

“Who? The police?” Babboo laughed. “Even the police today do not come from the same stock who ‘brought to justice’ — to quote G. Bush — Sultana, Bhoopat and Phoolan, after combing the dark jungles, putting their life to great risk …”

“What do you think OUR policemen do? They too risk their life and go into the dark jungles to catch the outlaws; many have sacrificed their life in the process.”

“What was the result?”

“Forget the result. You should remember that today there are far too many dakus in our country and too few policemen. They outnumber the law enforcement personnel and don’t look like dakus. They are educated, well-dressed and powerful individuals who not only command respect in society but their loot maar activities are also on a much larger scale. What is worse, the policemen are at their mercy.”

“But yaar, if the police are helpless who will catch what you describe as educated, well-dressed, respectable dakus?”

“For once you have asked a million dollar question. Sorry, I don’t have an answer,” said Babboo.

http://www.dawn.com/weekly/images/archive/090201/images9.htm

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