Sabyasachi Panda: crime under colonial definition is no crime per se

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Reacting on my posting of July 24, captioned ‘Mili Panda hopes situation shall not be created for creation of many Sabyasachis’, a very dear and close relation of mine, Sriman Hari Prasad Patnaik has postedhis views in social media Face Book. I quote the relevant portion: “………….every criminal’s kith and kin will always vouch for the criminal’s innocence and his/her pious and oh so clean way of life. That is a natural reaction. So I doubt whether we should take Mili Panda’s statement to be the gospel truth”.

Even as I appreciate these words, which, to me, are born out of Hari Prasad’s aversion to violence, I would like to say, revolutionaries like Sabyasachi Panda cannot be termed as criminals. There are many discussions going on, specifically by the elites, in the media, wherein Sabyasachi is being projected as a criminal. Certain activities attributed to him by the police connotes to crime as defined in the IPC that the British had promulgated to suppress Indian voices against exploitation. But there is reason to differ with what the IPC has defined as crime.

Be it appreciated that every crime is an outcome of a crime that generates a cause for the crime. As criminology holds it, no activity that looks like a crime is a crime, if criminal intention is not present.

So, every crime is not to be treated as one.

There is vast difference between crime that gives birth to consequential crime and crime that takes place consequent upon a crime.

Difference between crime and crime

Thus crime is not similar on all occasions. This dissimilarity makes crime viewed differently. And this difference is based on two different basic patterns: Generating Crime that gives birth to a consequential crime and Generated Crime, which is the product of a crime that generates situation for its perpetration. Therefore, crimes are of two distinctly different patterns.

Crime with criminal intention belongs to the first pattern and consequential crime belongs to the second pattern.

For example, when a trader hoards essential commodities, he does it with criminal intention to fetch more profit in the black market. So, hoarding is a crime of the first pattern.

Watching the plight of consumers, a conscious person intervenes and asks the hoarder to release the commodities, which is not heeded to by the hoarder, who continues increasing his personal wealth with massive profit from the black market with the state machinery in his pocket. Time comes, when the protester deems it proper to get the society rid of the hoarder in a way matching the armed protection given to him by his Patron State. Here his action, in terms of IPC, may be defined as a crime; but in reality, there is no criminal intention behind this crime. This crime is of the second pattern.

Violent action of a person affected by black market, against the hoarder may look like a crime under the colonial definition of crime,  but in reality, it is consequential to the crime perpetrated by the hoarder under protection of the State, which fellows of his like control.  Thus,  hoarding is the Generating Crime and consequential protests against hoarding, even if that causes bloodshed, are Generated Crime.

Sabyasachi Panda’s crime, if any, is Generated Crime, not Generating Crime. So, he is not a criminal.

Moreover his action, even if violent, is no crime with criminal intention against the society.

Had there been no State-terror, had the State not stood with the exploiters, I believe, highly gifted persons like Sabysachi Panda, entirely dedicated to the cause of the toiling masses, would never have chosen the violent path.

Kalinga Nagar Massacre

To understand the difference between Generating Crime and Generated Crime in a better way, conduct of Tata industry in Kalinga Nagar and revolt of tribal people of the locality vis-à-vis the bloody role the State played in support of Tata on January 2, 2006 may be of guiding help.

Look at any industry, the same scenario will speak aloud about how protesters against exploitation and destruction of their living environment are being branded as criminals by the police state, even though their actions are mere reactions to Generating Crime that the wealthy class perpetrates.

Shikara of Bhagabati Panigrahi

Crux of this phenomenon was most ably dealt with in the epoch making story ‘Shikara’ of Bhagabati Panigrahi , father of progressive literature in Orissa. I would like to transform an excerpt from this story to first person narration while roughly translating the same into English.

The hero of the story is Ghinua, an innocent forest dweller, who, tortured by a wealthy man namely Gobind Sardar, had beheaded him sans any qualms. He had narrated the reason of his action in his deposition in the court. And, the court had given him death sentence for the crime of murder. Till execution of the death sentence, he had not known the meaning of murder.

Please mark, what he had told the court, which, as I have already said, I am converting here into first person dialogue from Bhagabati’s narration for better understanding.

He had said to the Court, “I had to overcome a lot of difficulties in cutting off Gobind Sardar’s head. Many more persons were trying to kill him, but none of them had succeeded, as Gobind Sardar was always moving in a motor vehicle. He had accumulated wealth by looting everybody. He was personification of a great Satan. One cannot describe how many persons he had killed, how many persons he had ruined, how many women he had raped. He had taken away my landed properties in similar sinister manner. That evening he had even attempted to rape my wife. How dared he! He was fleeing in the motor vehicle on seeing me. He was trying to escape. I immobilized his vehicle by shooting my arrow to its tire. Then I chopped off his head and sped up to the Deputy Commissioner’s bungalow covering 30 miles through the dense forest in the night (with the full confidence that I will be rewarded sumptuously for having killed a man more dreaded than a tiger)”.

Photo copy of the paragraph from the printed story ‘Shikara’ is given below.

when Ghinua was held a criminal
Every reader of this epoch making story knows that, Ghinua had rushed to the Deputy Commissioner in hope of larger amount of reward than what he had received on previous occasions on killing Mahabala Bagha (Orissa’s tiger of massive strength) as to him, Gobinda Sardar was more savage than the tigers he had earlier killed. Instead of rewarding him for killing a man more sinister and menacing than a Mahabala Bagha, the British law had found him guilty of homicide and had given him death sentence for the crime.

Is there anybody in the world who really holds Ghinua a criminal? No, never.

He was totally innocent. His action was not a crime, but just a reaction to the unbearable crimes perpetrated by wealth accumulator and debauch – the real criminal, whom administration had never prosecuted – Gobinda Sardar.

Therefore, he is, and will remain forever the trendsetter of active action against exploitation and foul play of the criminals in power.

To sane minds, Ghinua is not a criminal, because what the law of the tyrant State defines as his crime, was nothing but a reaction to the heinous crimes the wealthy man Gobinda Sardar was in habit of perpetrating with the administrative machinery in his pocket.

Sabyasachi Panda and suchlike users of weapons against Gobinda Sardars of today are nothing but Ghinuas in modern forms, whose commitment to the cause of the helpless poor and voiceless toiling human beings has landed them in the labyrinth of the colonial law where the elite class is branding them as criminals.

Beyond the limits of this colonial Law and in the realm of romance of sacrifice and suffering for the poor, helpless, and voiceless brethren, they are the beacon lights that shall never fade.

So, what Ms. Mili Panda has told of her husband, cannot be in limine rejected. The colonial definition of crime needs be amended, as most of what gets projected as crime is no crime per se.

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