The Shayan Munshi in All of Us

Shayan Munshi is a model-turned-failed-actor who thinks that the most pressing issue in front of India is the condition of roads.

The one main problem plaguing India, according to me, is poor roads. There should be a law to level all roads. Due to overpopulation, the traffic seems to increase even more. This is an immediate concern as we use these roads daily. It would make living better.

He is also a murderer—or at the very least an accessory. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the story— Jessica Lal, a model, was murdered in a restaurant called Tamarind Court where she was the celebrity bartender for refusing to serve drinks to an inebriated son-of-a-minister, Manu Sharma. Despite being shot dead in front of so many people and then fleeing the scene of the crime, Manu Sharma and his associates were set free—-thanks to collusion on the part of the police (who intentionally botched evidence) and because Shayan Munshi, who was present when the murder took place, retracted his evidence—thereby letting a murderer walk away: laughing.

Of course Shayan Munshi had some cock-and-bull story for why he retracted his evidence —because he gave his deposition in English and the cops took it down in Hindi (a language Shayan cannot read), totally changing everything he said and then Shayan signed the statement without reading it. Now even a model cannot be that air-headed. Or maybe the cops conned him by asking for his “autograph” and in his obscene hurry to give the first autograph of his life—he did not even see where he was signing.

I don’t know what exactly happened but one thing for sure: Shayan Munshi is a murderer, at least in my eyes.

But at least he tried. At least, he stuck his neck out initially to depose against Manu Sharma. What about the entire party—comprising of socialites, cops and strapless blouses, powerful and influential people most of them, who stayed silent throughout? Do they want us to believe that the bartender got shot and that they did not even look up from their plate? Are they not as bad if not worse than Shayan Munshi?

But here’s the bigger question: How many of you, shocked and indignant Indians, would put your own life on hold, risk police harassment (we know which side they are on) and go out on a limb to seek justice for a total stranger? Not many—looking at how on the urban streets of India, accident victims lie dying while the city moves by them, not stopping.

Nobody wants to get involved—Shayan Munshi is merely a symptom of that.

My mother-in-law tells of her office colleague who tried to help an accident victim (he subsequently died) and the good Samaritan landed behind bars. In Calcutta, an off-duty policeman died trying to save a lady from being molested by three other cops—the lady in question refused to identify her molesters. Yes that’s right. She prevented justice from being served to the person who died saving her. A few months ago, the Telegraph reported that a man took an accident victim to the hospital in his car—a few days later the cops arrived at his doorstep: it seems that the “victim” had told the police that the doctor was the man who ran him over in the first place.

In this context, can you blame people for turning their backs ?

Lest it be misunderstood, this is not an attempt to absolve Shayan Munshi of his guilt. It is instead to make the point that rather than using Shayan Munshi as a receptacle of our hatred, it is better to ask ourselves: “What would we have done in his place?”

I know there are a lot of you who would have faced the damnation of hell in order to see justice being served—-its a pity that such people are almost never present when a person gets shot in a room full of people or lies bleeding — run over by a bus or when a woman is being assaulted on the street.

In conclusion, I wonder how Shayan Munshii can sleep at night knowing that his evidence exonerated a murderer. And the scary thing is I think I know his answer.

Just like the rest of us.

73 thoughts on “The Shayan Munshi in All of Us

  1. [GHE] Brilliantly put !! Everyone is frustrated and angry that Manu Sharma walked scot free, yet we will go on with our lives the very next second. Truly sad !! and what boils me is that there is a Jessica Lal getting murdered every minute and we cannot do anything.

  2. It does sicken me like it sickens you Arnab da. Dying in dignity is better than living IMO. Its a pity most people wouldn’t share this view. Also, the sad part, as you pointed out in the death of the people who try to fight for justice, is that they have ot deal with trouble, often death, instead of being applauded. Also shouldn’t it be a common thing to fight for justice and not a rarity? 😦

  3. Exactly… it’s funny how ppl, all moral & politically correct, never seem to be present on such occassions.

    Am actually glad so many people are now wanting to do something for Jessica…

  4. Pretty much exactly the question I posed.

    The answers are still coming in.

    But if the answer is so obvious, what next?

  5. i wonder how many of the people commenting here would actually go ahead and help when they see someone in danger. will i? will you?

    then why do all the talking?

  6. “I know there are a lot of you who would have faced the damnation of hell in order to see justice being served—-its a pity that such people are almost never present when a person gets shot in a room full of people or lies bleeding …” very well put. In my experience most ppl are “bold” and take the “correct” stand when its is for their own good. Noone wants to be a martyr. Ofcourse part of the blame can be put to the “justice sytem” since most ppl believe that getting associted with the police and courts will only hurt them (Which is probably true?). Then again every person is part of “the system”. But there is hope. At least in this case I think there is a reassesment being done. “Some” malpractices of the police have been “discovered”. If the culprits are punished — it will serve to increase everyones belief and hope.

  7. “In conclusion, I wonder how Shayan Munshii can sleep at night knowing that his evidence exonerated a murderer.”

    Money talks.

    Secondly I think our society is generally pessimistic about justice and police system. 99% of the time, nobody wants to do anything with the police or politicians, lest their lives are threatened – it is also easy to scare ppl in our country anyways, myself included. I think for this to change, it requires the society to change its mentality, and its going to happen really slowly. Perhaps in the next 100 years I did think.

    Until then, the politicians and their kin can walk free killing ppl I guess…

    Brilliant post!


  8. Very true. One of the reasons why the witnesses have turned hostile is that the case has taken too long and witnesses have turned hostile. They are not even offered a glass of water while deposing in court. It’s easy to blame Munshi but how many of us would really stand upto the kind of harassment that a court case entails in India. Yesterday, it came in the Times of India, Delhi that somebody has created a special blog Unity is strength specially for Jesicca lal in case anyone is interested.

  9. Admirable sentiments of course. We all would love to stand-up and see that justice were served. But it seems we concur that almost all of us would get cold feet and choose the easy way out, as Munshi may have done.
    So I’m going to revisit our very approach to the issue. If its so universal to shrink in fear, while actually wishing justice deep down, should we not see if there is another way or approach to achieving justice? Ways where we would not need to depend on the extraordinary courage of any one man/woman?

    Here is a former CJI suggesting one such opportunity. I agree wholeheartedly with him and feel that structural and institutional changes (we can find comptent jurisprudence experts to work out the details of reform) to the way criminal justice is handled in India are the way forward. Since this carries less direct risk of personal danger, any of us in any position of bring about some change in legislation (from the ballot box to the direct intervention in legislation-drafting) can participate. In the long run, this is incredibly effective, eventually reinforcing the very bravery (or lack of it) that Arnab’s piece bemoans.

  10. Very intriguing post, Arnab. Thanks!
    I haven’t been following this case very closely. Read bits of it. But whatever I have learnt boiled my blood. Could you or any of your readers apprise me of Shayan Munshi’s involvement? Would just like to know the facts.
    On a related note, Arnab, I can totally relate to the experience your mother-in-law had regd her colleague. I knew a person who faced a similar fate involving an accident victim. Though he was luckier in the regard that he didn’t land up behind bars, he faced police harrassment for years. His only fault was that he offered water to an accident victim who later died. The whole incident is still vivid in my memory. I don’t want to spoil anybody’s meal describing any more.
    The thing is that these incidents do not surprise me any more and that itself is a very scary thought… but I grew up in Bihar (the part is now Jharkhand), I have experienced some really weird stuff and I am not afraid to say that I am not proud of my own state. Heck! That sentiment can be very effectively extended to the rest of India as well. I do not know about you, but every time I land in India (mostly Delhi), I get this distinctive feeling that I am on my very own with nobody to look after me in case of a crisis.
    However, the thing that has always bothered me is… fine, so there is corruption in India, you can’t trust the police, there is no politician who has to keep you happy in order to keep his job… you, as a voter, are held hostage because of his power, not the other way around, everybody can be “bought”… but those are the facts. What can WE do to turn that around? I haven’t been able to figure that out and I need help. I am sure that can be done, really!! I just feel miserable not to know how. People will site examples (and they have, to me, in the past) that such things go around in other parts of the world as well… OJ Simpson, anyone? But in such parts of the world, such things are few and far in between… face it! It is just too rampant in India.
    I have thought a lot about this but I am at my wit’s end. What should we do, dammit?!? I have an eight year old. When I think of her future and I conclude that the only thing I have to offer to her, today, is that she is better off in the US, I feel ashamed. Think about it, doggoneit!! Is that the best I can offer to my child? What is it that will ensure the minimum safety net? Better salary for the police officials in India so that they can not be bought? Better economy? What the heck is it? I mean, look at India from the economy standpoint. It is doing so much better than the US and so many other countries for crying out loud!!! Still, why do you think so many people are trying to live elsewhere? ‘coz (a) they do not feel safe and (b) there is too much of everyday hassle to stay in India. Those are the ONLY TWO reasons… none other!!! Look around, ask around if you do not believe me. Jessica Lal incident is contributing to (a). And you and I have to consider (b) on top of it!
    Dammit!!! You believe things are going to change? I, for one, need more reasons for such indulgence! You got any?
    In the meantime, may Jessica’s soul rest in peace! We, 1 billion of us, failed her! How pathetic is that? I hope WE, do not sleep in peace! Ever!! I mean it!!!


  11. Great post Arnabda. Though I feel Shayan had given a better excuse and not such a laughable reason. Perhaps a more hypocrisy laced, politically correct one so that all of us would not have felt the guilt. Better to say no one could justify his/her statement than knowing they were acting as most Indians do when being asked to take a stand.
    The questions that you raise always come to haunt me whenever I hear of any such incident and what do I do ? I berate the state of things in India, extrapolate them to the whole world situation, somehow convince myself that this is basic human nature, question myself that why when faced with an extreme situation we would more easily take the wrong (as per the often expounded human values) path, fend off my conscience’s call(sic), and then sleep over it, forget it, maybe rant about it to some friends and then wait for another such incident to shake me …….
    When I saw RDB , I loved it , so did my acquaintances though the real moral was deemed to be too ideological to imbibe. God help this country where such people abound and I am ashamed to say I am not an exception. As someone opined earlier , a change may come in the next 100 years.That is what I also hope and I know its just another way to absolve myself of any responsibilty. A few weeks back I saw an incident on the roads of India’s Silicon city wherein a lady was being harassed and manhandled by a guy(who was accompanying her it seemed) and she went on seeking help from the bystanders on a busy road and no one took any initiative. When a friend tried to intervene he was rudely asked by a policeman to stop creating a nuisance while the whole charade went on. A few moments later the lady went away with the man pulling her and I felt SICK. Hah and what do I do next. The usual….nothing.

  12. Yes, we do know the answer. Even if we are courageous, when it comes to what happens to our dependents and loved ones, we start being reluctant. That’s why we have to glorify the likes of Satyendra Dubey, Manjunath etc whose courage is exemplary.
    Therefore i just have a few solutions which are workable and debatable. I am not saying these are extremely practical, foolproof solutions. These are a few ideas which can be expanded with inputs from each of us.
    1) Each of us needs to understand where we stand in this world relative to others. What are our weaknesses, strengths etc. Based on this, we ourselves need to come to a proper conclusion of our rating(IT style on a scale of 1 to 10).
    As an example, i can consider some factors:
    a) To what extent i can go to fight for a cause: Probably difficult for me to fight with people with Muscle and Money power. But definitely i will never turn away from an accident victim and such situations because i am sure, in case if the blame falls on me for some reason, then i can
    still bring in a lawyer and money power to fight the case and i believe almost 99% i should succeed.(I believe the negative incidents that happen to some good samaritans when they try to help are rare cases which get highlighted in media, but there are thousands of unknown cases where people have helped accident victims and have got positive responses. This is a true case to me, where i had to take an accident victim to hospital and it was all praise for me. It has given me enough confidence to do things that are possible considering what i can do from my level). And definitely i will not get bogged down if in case, i encounter a negative incident next time. But for sure, i may not be able to help if i am a witness to Manu sharma murdering Jessica Lal. Then what can i do from my level ? I can only write/blog this and bring like minded people to a common understanding. If there is a fund for “Jessica Lal’s family”, i will definitely contribute in the understanding that even though the purpose of the fund is mentioned as charity, it will go to someone (Maybe they are in level 9) who can kill Manu Sharma.

    2) Do as much as possible in stealth mode. (Like how Al-Q has realised that today’s war is to be fought slyly and cold blooded). i.e; Take the thorn with the thorn, Like passing information anonymously to concerned authorities, Bad mouthing about bad people, Writing about such stuff..I am sure everything of these will somehow help in fighting corruption in the long run.
    Like how the squirrel got his stripes in the Ramayana, we just need to do whatever it is possible from our side. That’s it.

  13. I have attended to accident victims on more than one ocassion(My college in Bangalore used to be near one of the most dangerous intersections) and even was a witness in the court once. May be I was lucky but on all the ocassions the police, doctors and others were really pleasent and there was no harassment of any kind.

    The biggest disaster is that some people automatically believe that being a good samaritan will hurt them and they do this based on things they heard from others. While harassment of witnesses does happen in some cases, it should not be a reason for letting a criminal walk free or not attending to an accident victim.

    All those who I argue with about this bring up the familiar “How does me being a witness matter? The accused is going to walk anyway. The system is corrupt” argument.

    You know what, there are still cops ad judes out there who are not sold out. There is still an independent media which will give you a sympthatic ear if you are threatened for being a witness. So stop being a wuss and stand up for your self.

  14. Yes arnabda, what you have put forward is so true. But is the truth what we like? We like something that is good only for us. All of us can type in our solutions to this particular situations in very strong words but i do wonder what will be our reaction if we meet Shyam Munshi on the road.Yes sitting today,we can blame Shyam Munshi, those 100 socialites present at the party, the police and the judiciary but what are going to boycott such people socially. Are we going to not go and watch movies of such “HEROS”. Let’s ponder.

  15. @GHE: There is…only not being models their deaths never make it to the papers.

    @Pratyush: Dont think there was any dignity in the way Jessica Lal died. Incidentally check out Manu Sharma’s smiling visage as he walks away—-it positively makes ones blood boil.

    @Freaky Chakra: Yes but for how long? A few days—and then all is forgotten.

    @Vivek: Who knows?

    @Tiny Black Cat: Talking is useful only in the sense that it makes us aware of our own limitations so that we do not fulminate endlessly carping on faults in others that are present in us.

    @SD: I think that a principal reason—-getting involved with the law entails harassment. As an example, in Delhi at least if you take an accident victim to a hospital, the doctors in all likelihood will insist on paperwork, a police report…etc. As soon as the police enters, (and we all know how honest they are) things almost always take a bad turn.

    @Suyog: A few years ago, some newly married bride into Devi Lal’s household “accidentally” shot herself while playing with a loaded revolver. That was that—no further investigation.

    @Hiren: True.

    @Mahi: Excellent suggestions from the ex- Chief Justice.

    @Debasish: And I havent been able to figure it out either.

    @Cipher: RDB is just too simplistic and dangerous—in the solution it advocates.I shall write a post on this some time in the future.

    @EMC3: Again admirable sentiments. However it is the few “bad apples” which cook the goose for the rest of us. I am not saying it *should* but that’s just the way normal people operate.

    @Anil: Again it is nice to know of your positive experiences. And I accept there may be good judges and cops—but it would be naive not to think that they are in a vast minority. As to independent media—I beg to differ. When editorial space is being sold, when editors practice self-censorship to stay in the good books of the government , in such a situation I seriously doubt if I can trust the MSM to stand by my side once things get hot.

    @Waterpirate: Well it would be great to boycott Shayan Munshi’s movies—at least for the sake of aesthetics. But then we would have to boycott Salman, Shahrukh and all the other Bollywood bigwigs who have all turned “hostile” in court. Will we?

  16. Dying in dignity fighting for a Jessica Lal I meant.

  17. How many of you, shocked and indignant Indians, would put your own life on hold, risk police harassment (we know which side they are on) and go out on a limb to seek justice for a total stranger? Not many…

    aren’t you being a little overoptimistic there? ‘Not many’? how many do you know that would turn up? i have physically prevented my parents from ‘interfering’ in the past. yes, i know. my dad said i’m a coward and he’d never expected it of ME. an hour later he came and said that after thinking the matter over, chonu and he were glad i was ‘so much more practical than us.’
    i think he was a little proud of me, too. i hated myself for it, and my parents for not slapping some guts into me. but you know what? i wasn’t one of those threatened with an acid bulb. so yeah, i sleep pretty well at night, thank you very much.


  18. YOURFAN writes:
    There has been uproar in India regarding Jessica Lal murder. How can all those responsible for the murder walk away free? As one of your reader rightly pointed out that it is money talk. In Jessica Lal’s case none of these people was her relative. But in the Best Bakery case, the girl (Zahira – I think that is her name) in spite of being the kin of the victims has sold her soul out for money and became a hostile witness. How can this happen? I have tried to think her thoughts. I think she figured out that she can’t bring back her dead ones. She also figured out that if she does not go along with the political party who was the mastermind behind this murders she will soon end up dead in an accident. She also needs money to stay alive. So the best thing available to her is to accept the huge sum of money and then turn hostile witness.

    In this age, sadly, we have become more ‘practical’ where head rules the heart unlike the freedom fighters about whom you (and your mother) have written – for them the heart ruled the head. For everything, there is a bit of aberration – that is why there still are Manjunath, Malini( the mother daughter duo who still now say on national TV that Manu Sharma is the killer) and people like them even at this age. In this context the word ‘aberration’ is not a derogatory word.

  19. Greatbong:

    How about letting Prabhuji loose! No, seriously.

  20. not only money even fear talks.just bcos this is a high profile remote areas so many postmortem reports of murders r altered on a regular and routine basis u cant even begin to imagine or the doc will b the next person to “accidentally” pop off.and if one govt official is not theres someone else waiting in the wings to oblige the with all the SMS campaign and the likes to express solidarity is all fine but when the noise dies down somebody needs to face the music and alone.and how can u blame the champagne socialites, they dint even know untill they read it in the papers the next morning and it was day 3 when they realised they were very much there.

  21. Well written greatbong. And I agree with you that none of us would even give a shit say, if Jessica had happened to be poor Dalit woman from one of the small towns in UP or Bihar.

    But I am glad to read Anil’s comment and disappointed to read your response to it. I think its very important that we remain idealistic fools with blinders over our eyes for as long as possible.

    All this cynicism is not going to take us anywhere.

  22. A completely thought provoking post Greatbong. I really dont think I have a right to loose-mouth Shayan Munshi. Hate to accept things that are Sad But True.

  23. Brilliant….thanks for writing it…

  24. AWESOME !!! AS USUAL !!!


  25. Great post. And i agree with dazedandconfused…….. till the veil is lifted. The ‘Rang De Basanti’ message ehh????

  26. How many of you?
    Is that a typo and should have read “How many of us?”
    I like your style, but here you sounds totally conceited.

  27. Hi Arnab

    A great post. I read it two days ago, but didn’t know how to comment on this! Number one, yes I agree. There is a Shayan Munshi in all of us. I asked myself this question, have I ever stood up against the system for a cause. To my utmost shame, the answer was a negative. Not that I never had any opportunity. In India you have plenty of them. But I was kind of indifferent, so far as it didn’t affect me personally and directly.

    But, we become victims of this attitude as well. In 1993, during communal riots in my city, my father, while was coming home on his scooter, was attacked. Fortunately he didn’t have big injuries, but broke his hand. He had to drive his scooter, single-handed for about 7 kilometers to come back home. There were people around. But nobody wanted to get involved, as it would clearly be a police case, and the fact that there was grave communal tension in the city discouraged people further. The real reason is lack of trust that we have in the system. And system has never showed any intention of generating trust among people. Especially with such judgements as Jesica lall’s case, it would do anything but generate confidence.

  28. Dear Arnab,
    There are always anomalies. Because of some cases one should not start asking questions whether they should offer help in such cases.
    You say “Can you blame people for turning their backs”
    Why do one look after other examples. A person should have the guts and courage to set examples. Thats the way a nation is built. Thats the way a society can change. Staying in high rise buildings and passing caustic comments on India or poor states like Bihar is certainly not the way to approach problems. One should be angry that Shayan Munshi got away. But one should not justify it by putting the blame on some stray incidents. Thats definetly not correct.

  29. did u know that shayan munshi graduated/ studied at the prestigious IIPM! am sure u didn’t , for if u did u wuold have figured out the reason for his behaiviour.

  30. Arnab, somehow I agree with you here but I also have to agree with the commenter who said that there are anomalies. I have benefited from such anomalies I was brushed by a car (near GK-1 in Delhi) and fell down (only scratches and a torn T-shirt) the car sped off but the guy behind him in another car stopped – was it because I looked positively upper middle class with my Adidas shoes and Bentton T-shirt, would the same help have been forthcoming to someone from a less privileged part of society? On the other hand, I’ve also been in an accident where a friend hit someone who decided to make the middle of the road his happy hunting ground – we stopped and took the guy to hospital (Safdarjung Hospi in this case). Now, the docs refused to treat him until a case was filed, the cops wanted to know too much, meanwhile the guy who had broken a leg was not getting any treatment. Thankfully, my friend’s parents were cops so things worked out, the guy was put in plaster (and found to be dead drunk) and packed off. But what if someone else had hit this drunken idiot – would they have cared?
    PS : The Shayan Munshi-IIPM connection seems dubious.

  31. Hi,
    In the FIR, Shayan Munshi claimed that he was studying at IIPM.

  32. GB

    Reminds me of your previous post

    As you aptly put there is Shayan Munshi in all of us, he was just unfortunate enough to be caught in the media glare.

  33. Vasabjit Banerjee February 27, 2006 — 5:09 pm


    Am intending to return to New Delhi after my doctoral studies; which will mean after a 12 year sojourn here. Joining the “establishment” and getting involved in politics. No, Miss Lal has nothing to do with it; the issue is symptomatic of larger causes and issues.

    Talk and talk, but who will take the second hand Suzuki, the two-bedroom apartment in CR Park, and the substandard standard of living? Well, I will and I don’t give two hoots for that.

    Here, I work with Indians who complain, who moan, who groan, but prefer their luxuries and stability. But who is willing to give up? Well, I am and am damned proud of it, too. We get subsidized education from the government to underwrite the development of the already developed countries.

    Will someone kill me in the process, make my life miserable on a continued basis? Yes, they will, sir, they will and must because their incentive structure is so constructed. But what can be done? Didn’t Nehru return, didn’t Gandhi, didn’t all of those who died unlamented and unrecognised who fought against stiffer odds. So, instead of holding our upper-caste/class heads in our sophisticated hands, perhaps we should try putting ourselves in the line. Instead of complaining about the system we should join it and change it. Nothing may change, but those who have joined the struggle, like your father and grandfather can look themselves in the mirror and go: “I did my duty for “izzat aur imaan”.

    Things are improving, nonetheless: the economy is moving; the absolute poverty levels have fallen; life expectancy has increased, while infant mortality rates have fallen; we have certain world class economic sectors, such as IT and Pharma; and, we have a large pool of educated and feeling people, as these remarks represent.

    So, instead of thinking about security, about family, about the bank account, about all of those coveted dreams of the good life, just go back and join. Yes, you’ll die, yes, they’ll do everything under the Sun to hamper all that you stand for. You will never have as good a material existence as you would here. But we NRIs be damned and exiled if that’s all we care for because we have forfeited the right to be Indian. Even the journalists are facing brick bats and baton charges to get us the information, while we sit back and write lines of remorse.

    Anyway, enough of my holier than thou, righteous anger; but we should consider JFK’s phrase, and I paraphrase it: “think not what your country can do for you, think of what you can do for your country”.

    Vasabjit Banerjee

  34. Exactly. I think our judicial system has to cahnge some of its ways it works and gives verdicts. Lost of people back off from giving a true testimony in fear that they’re going to be heckled by henchmen of the offenders and the judicial system would be nowhere to help ’em out. Also, when it’s clear a witness is twisting his testimony, then the judge should do something about it, punish him for giving a false testimony. Sadly, our judicial system like many other things haven’t been able ti shake off over century old antiquated, British laws.

  35. YOURFAN writes:
    @ Vasabjit Banerjee: Nice to know that you have decided to come back (from wherever it may be) to India/New Delhi after your ‘doctoral studies’. Your decision is admirable but why did it take so long – all of 12 years. It almost feels like returning after a bonobas just like Ram did. Don’t tell me you took 12 years to finish your PhD.

    You have written: Yes, you’ll die, yes, they’ll do everything under the Sun to hamper all that you stand for.” But life is extremely precious to just throw away. And that is the reason there is such uproar about Jessica’s life being thrown away. Just joining the ‘establishment’ won’t solve the problem. It is the voices of protest by the majority of people that count in a democratic system. And in order to arouse the voices of the majority it does not matter where you live as long as you care enough to do whatever little you can.

    Anyway, it is again admirable that you pay little value to the worldly things of life. Honestly wish there were more people like you. But don’t join the bandwagon of judgementalists. I am sure you won’t like me being judgmental about you without knowing you and all your parameters fully.

    Good luck with your joining the ‘establishment’. Don’t get killed – stay alive.

  36. Vasabjit Banerjee February 28, 2006 — 3:05 am

    Ah, well, I did think this morning’s retort may have stepped on a few toes, but that was the aim. Nope, I’ve been here since I was 18; more the surprise, since people who do their under-grad here almost never return. Yet, it seems these days, when I talk with people who came here for their bachelors that they are more willing to go back. Why? Are we a bunch of idealists? I don’t think so; we left earlier; we were even more obnoxious about the “American Way of Life”. I was a regular firang wannabe at one time. I would rather say that it’s the American idealism turned inside out: go and do it yourself; don’t expect nothing from no one. Now that Yourfan raises the issue, I never did think about it that way.

    Good questions really, but the refrain from the other side remains caught in “exasperated resignation”. Well, why do the poor sons of the soil die in Siachen and Assam every week? Don’t we have any duties other than to ourselves? Arnab’s grandfather spent quite sometime in the Cellular Jail giving up his tomorrow for our today, he may have died like so many of his comrades! What was he thinking, “life is precious, thus, my life is precious”? It would be quite absurd to turn altruism inside out for ourselves.

    And, by the way Arnab, as I sat in the lab reading game theory (not the most opportune time to think of this post), I said, this was one of the best posts I have ever read. No, not merely yours, but in general. It was simple and sincere; a bit rough hewn, which made reading more compulsive than trained. Who are these Munshis? They are everywhere, bhai, everywhere. You meet them at Tolly and Grand in Calcutta, as well. I think, yourfan, does have a point here, it seems we NRIs care about it more than them. what a shame.

    As about judging people, I do that by profession: I’m a political scientist 😀

    Anyway, sorry, won’t monopolize this anymore,


    Vasabjit Banerjee

  37. Good point Arnab. I think you hit the nail on the head. How many of us would have done something if we were in Shyam Munshi’s place. Not many I guess. The process is just too difficult and the results so unsure. I had read about the Calcutta cop who had died and the WOMAN NEVER EVEN CAME FORWARD. Imagine that?

    But, the controversy it has created also shows what public pressure can achieve. Though one question troubles me, is all the noise only because Jessica Lall was a celebrity and her killers politically well connected? What if they were not?

    Would anyone still would have bothered?

    btw, was that you asked on my blog if you could use my profile picture? The name was RDM, just stuck me of it was you. If it was, perfectly ok with me if you use the picture. I assure you I donot exactly quite like him though prety close.

  38. YOURFAN Writes:
    @ Vasabjit Banerjee: Here are my replies:
    1) No, you did not and couldn’t “step” on my “toes” simply because I am not flustered so easily.

    2) Your concept of “American idealism” i.e. “go and do it yourself; don’t expect nothing from no one” is wrong and judgmental. There is nothing wrong in “go and do it yourself” but the last part is definitely not true for all Americans – may be some but definitely not for the majority. To them, family is the most important thing in one’s life. I am really surprised that after staying there for last 12 years you have not noticed that. May be you are too worked up in your game theory to notice anything. I am not a proponent of American culture or idealism. I never was and I never will. All I want to say is that there are aberrations in all societies, in all layers of life. One should not generalize – specially you who aspires to be “a political scientist”!!!

    3)As regards to “duties other than to ourselves” all I can say is that duty to others does not necessarily mean dying. Before Independence, there was no option for freedom fighters like Arnab’s grandfather. It was literally a do or die situation. So if there actions meant death as punishment, they chose that. But now we have lots and lots of options for doing duties to others. If you go to any website of IITs and IIMs and other reputed educational institutes, research institutes, you will find that most of faculties (including the ones who are younger to you) have PhDs from foreign universities and they have come back and what they are doing is their own way of contributing to the society. They are doing their bit by choosing not to die and thank God for that.

    4)You have written: “I think, yourfan, does have a point here, it seems we NRIs care about it more than them. what a shame” while you were talking about the “Munshis”. Well, that is not saying much about you NRIs – is it? Anybody is better than “Munshis of the world”. I hope you were not talking about the “non NRIs – that is us” when you used the word “them”.
    5)As my final point, I must say that there are Munshis all over the world in each society – they are the aberration of a society not the normality. Through our protest and positive steps (whichever way) we should ensure that these Munshis do not swell in number – they remain the aberration.

    @GB: In your last post, you wrote that you don’t always reply to the comments left late because (among other reasons) you want to move on. I understand your point. But I must say that although you repeatedly said in your previous posts that you write on different topics simply because you enjoy writing, yet you should also realize that you are imparting some effect on the opinions of your readers through your posts and comments of others. If you can broaden one person’s mental horizon – then that should be your contribution and of course mental satisfaction. As I have said earlier that in this age of communication it does not matter where you live. The only thing that matters is compassion and for sure, you have it in you.

  39. YOURFAN writes:

    @Debasish: Sorry, Debasish I somehow missed your comment. I was touched by your candidness. Please read the last comment that I sent for Vasabjit. Besides that I have a few points to make:

    1)People who live in US/ foreign countries often suffer from the false notion of lack of security back in India. Just as people over here like us feel that the streets of any big metro in US are infected by drug dealers and drug peddlers and prostitutes –I am sure you will disagree on this. I honestly don’t think your eight year old would have less of security in India than in say US. I have read so many instances of girls getting raped by their dates in US – that does not mean that every other girl going on date in US are getting raped! Let’s not even talk about the easy availability of guns over there. There are crime prone areas/mean and bad people everywhere in the world.

    2)About the day to day facilities of life: All I can say that the kind of privileged life style which includes maid/driver etc one gets with certain academic qualification is not available in US. Besides the above reason, the most important one is that you don’t feel that you belong there – you can’t relate to things happening around you. I certainly disagree with your idea of “there is too much of everyday hassle to stay in India”. I think you have stayed over in US for quite a long time. And when one comes here for a short visit, one only sees the difficulties. I have close relatives all over US who on a regular basis come to India and they tell us about goof ups in hospitals, stolen identities, the goof ups in banks, not so enticing educational system – even not having the same good taste and smell of food articles over there. I have one relative from US who came here for her surgery. I am sure you must have heard about all the medical facilities available over here. But are the problems over there deterring them to go back to US? No, simply because they have chosen to stay there. It is their choices and I respect that.

    What I don’t like is when people try to rationalize their choices citing wrong reasons. So whether you want to come back to India is your and your family’s choice. But definitely and positively the two reasons that you mentioned cant be the convincing ones. I hope my comments have been a bit of a help because in your writing you asked for help.

  40. @yourfan:
    I do acknowledge that what you put in is ur opinion and i respect that, but i disagree on a few points,

    – Do or die situation: At no time during the freedom struggle or now does it become a do or die situ. unless the individual decides that. So to brush it off as if they had no choice is naive. My grand uncle travelled all the way to sabarmati to b a part of the Dandi March while most of his conteporaries were quite happy with the way things were (and according to the family legend used to ridicule him).
    – Munshi aberrations: I think that u have got it totally opposite. This sort of behaviour is the norm now and I can totally empathise with munshi as I have been in Ghaziabad for a few years and have personally met one of the accused in the case. Trust me, no promise of salvation will make me testify against that lot. Of course I mayb a coward…. but thats not affecting me enjoying my life(i know coward and selfish).

    Its only my opinion and please take it as just that.

  41. YOURFAN writes:
    @Rahul: Nice to hear your comments. Here are my replies:
    1)First of all, not all of us have the same perspective, same capabilities, same level of compassion in life and I thank God for that! What I meant by do or die situation before Independence is that back then, the people who wanted to change the society that they lived in(not all of them did like you mentioned your other relatives who ridiculed your grand uncle) did not have any choice. They were fighting against the authority who had all the power in the world. But now we do have a lot of choices. Now we are living in a democratic set up – not under a Imperial rule. In other words anybody wanting to make a difference in the society can choose his/her path. Nobody has the right to be judgmental and say that it is a silly or small way for changing the society. What I wanted to emphasis was that in a democratic society getting involved in large number can change the society for the better.

    2)I feel bad to hear your personal encounter with one of the accused. I am not the judgmental type to consider you to be a coward because you won’t testify against him. A person can’t change the society alone otherwise he will end up Manjunath’s way. All I am saying is that if everybody or the majority in Tamarind Court came forward to testify, then there would not be this acquittal of Manu Sharma. I am talking about collective compassion/awareness/eagerness to get involved – not one or two individual’s effort – then that would be hara-kiri.

    3)Lastly, I feel sad that you are pessimistic enough to think that Munshis are not aberration but the normality. That is preciously the reason why I said that we should all sincerely pitch in together in our own small way but definitely the united way so that Munshis remain the aberration.

  42. @Pratyush: Gotcha.

    @Rimi: Such is the state of affairs that it is brave to be a coward.

    @Yourfan: As you said Zaheera took what was the best deal. Just like the lady who denied justice to the person who saved her. Who is worth saving in today’s world?

    @Soumya: Good idea. At least we could have a laugh.

    @Varsha: Well the people there did not realize a person had just been shot by a drunk man? How good was the food?

    @DazedandConfused: I am glad to read Anil’s comment also. But what have you done, D&C for which you are disappointed with my reaction?

    @Anon_Hyderabad: My point exactly.

    @ Gautam and Dev: Thank you

    @Rahul: Cant say I agree with the RDB message–or at least it’s principal one.

    @Abhi: I never considered myself any different—whic is why the “us” occurs at the end. The reason it is “you” is because there are always some people (like the people who commented on Manjunath’s post) who adopt a “I am different from you” approach. This was for them.

    @Kandarp: You are right.

    @Rishi: But the fact remains that people’s actions are guided by those incidents—which incidentally are not exactly “minor”. Whether that is right or wrong is a totally orthogonal…of course it is wrong. But can you afford to be right?

    @Freaky Connexion: Maybe he was unemployed at the time and that was just an euphemism for being on the dole.

    @K: “Thankfully my friends parents were cops”—yes that is the real reason: otherwise you would have been in a world of pain.

    @Abs: As I said…

    @Dreamweaver: True.

    @Vasabjit: I admire your decision—do keep me posted on your joining politics. I will definitely follow it with interest.

    @Aragorn: That’s the main point. Our law is such that it makes people turn their backs.

    @Confused: No no it was not me. I am quite happy with my face for now.

    @Yourfan: Sometimes everything I have had to say has already been said in my previous replies. But yes I understand your point and I shall definitely try to answer “all comments”.

  43. Aranb,

    Watch the first test free streaming here:

  44. @ arnab
    I dont know what you saw as the principal message in RDB, but for me it was to ‘get off our asses and do something abt things than complain abt it in the local haunt’. I felt that it is very close to the message you are trying to convey.

    @ yourfan
    Pessimism or pragmatism???????? fine line dividing the two,probably that of perception again.
    I did have a phase during my graduation when I thought that i understood all waht communism stood for and how i will utilize it for the betterment of human race. Yeah right!!!! 2 years of fighting with all the other parties, getting beaten up regularly when going home(i had to pass thru a ABVP stronghold on my way home) and third rate political gimmicks quickly disillussioned all the utopian fantasies i had and made me decide that the capitalist road of an MBA and foreign posting is better for my future both mental and physical. All this rambling is meant to show my utter contempt for the political system in place and that is also the reason I enjoyed Rang De Basanti soooo much, I would have loved to have the guts to do what they did.

  45. I love my world, this thing I have made for myself with friends and family, and a few books and films thrown in.
    I customise the great poet… “Do I dare disturb the universe?” My universe? No, I think not.

    At least, that’s what I feel about myself. Reading your post and putting myself in Shayan Munshi’s shoes makes me want to believe I am better off than him, that I have it in me. But I dare not hope that I’ll ever get that chance…

    As usual, great stuff

  46. Hi Arnab….
    In today’s TOI I came to know that Shayan Munshi is an IIPM student. And Ponytail seems proud of it.

  47. @Rahul: RDB might convey that message but the way it defines what “getting off your bum” is very disturbing. In any case, this will be discussed in a fuller fashion subsequently.

    @Patient Portnoy: Thank you..

    @Soham: One more feather in his plume…man that place has some amazing people calling it their “aloo mutter”.

  48. Brilliant post! You’ve raised a very disturbing and pertinent question.

  49. Firstly, I don’t agree there is no solution to any damn situation other than that dipicted in RDB. I am disturbed that the only message everyone seems to be taking is assasination of the corrupt!
    Secondly, I think as long as Shyan Munshi (representative of all such people) thinks the truth has to be told to help out Jessica (representative of all victims)or her family or anyone else he can never gather the guts to tell it. One has to realize that truth has to be told not for anybody’s benifit but to preserve his own integrity. But then integrity is the rarest thing among Homo Sapiens!

  50. Dear Arnab,

    There is another related disturbing issue that is not being taken up. That is of selective breast beating of the media.

    In the case, Jessica Lall was a Christian, Manu Sharma a Brahmin. Sure that doesn’t make him less of a murderer and please go ahead and hang him. That is not my issue.

    Let me take you back to Priyadarshini Mattoo case:

    “Ms. Priyadarshini Matto was a student of the Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. It is on record that from early 1995 she was being persistently harassed by an ex-student of the Centre, Satosh Kumar Singh. A case was registered in the Maurice Nagar Police Station under Section 354 IPC (outraging the modesty of a woman) on 6-11-1995. The Delhi Police had given her a Personal Security Officer.

    Ms. Priyadarshini was found dead in the afternoon of 23-1-1996 at her residence in Vasant Kunj. She was alone in the house at the time. She was found raped.

    The Delhi Police registered a case on that day under Section 302 (homicide of the IPC. The post-mortem was done at the Safdarjung Hospital on the afternoon of 25-1-1966. The case was transferred to the CBI the same evening.

    On the basis of the facts emerging from their investigation, the CBI laid a charge sheet against Santosh Kumar Singh on 11-4-1996 before the Metropolitan Magistrate, New Delhi under Sections 302 (murder) and 376 (rape) of the IPC.

    The House will note that the investigation was conducted and completed between January and April, 1996. In particular, the request for DNA sampling was sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad on 31st January, 1996 and the result of the test was received on 20-3-1996.

    The Additional Sessions Judge, Delhi framed charges against the accused on 17-7-1997. The trial commenced on 11-8-1997. Arguments were concluded on 18-4-1998.

    Following the transfer of the case from the Court of Shri S. C. Mittal, Additional Sessions Judge the case was assigned to Shri G. P. Thareja on 22-4-1998.

    After hearing a few Court Witnesses and fresh arguments from the prosecution and defence, Shri Thareja delivered his judgment on 3-12-1999. He acquitted the accused of rape and gave the benefit of doubt in respect of the murder charge.

    While doing so, the learned Judge has expressed strong reservations about the adequacy of the investigation. That a court should feel compelled to express such reservations is by itself a matter of grave concern for the Government. Reports which have appeared subsequently in the press have compounded that concern.”

    I have got the above from the website of Parliament of India transcripts.

    In this case, the lady was harrassed for ~ 2 years, raped and then murdered. Did the media create a racket ? No. Why ? Because the victim was a Brahmin and that too from Kashmir. That makes her the worst of worst of worst (Hindu -> Brahmin -> Kashmiri) in the pecking order at English Media and activist sympathy.

    Consider the Best Bakery Case and the absolutely similar Radhabai Chawl case except that Hindus got burnt.. What happenned when the Muslims got off ? Does the flesh of Hindus burn differently ?

    This is something that is being glossed over in this case.

  51. @Anindita: Thank you

    @Vikrant: Agree with your assessment of RDB.

    @Bharat: I cannot agree with the observation that the press ignores cases concering Bramhins and especially Kashmiri Bramhins. The reason Jessica Lal received so much publicity was because 1) she was a model, a socialite and a pretty face (hence makes good copy) 2) lot of competition in the press today compared to 99.

    I however do agree that sometimes the fate of Hindus—and Kashmiri Hindus are often not highlighted by the press because of “several reasons” most prominent being that a liberal’s street cred is measured by his/her self-flagellation (ref: Arundhuti Roy).

  52. Lot has been said and written about this issue and i know that all will agree that this is not the first time that there has been a public outcry against such an incident. The bottomline, I believe, thought is that – Moments of truth come in everyones lives one time or the other. All of us will have a chance (maybe and hopefully not as big a deal like a murder of a model in a bar) to walk up and point out at the perpetrator, and we will have a choice to make… What choice will “YOU” make ?? Think about that…

  53. Please read about me Shayan Munshi in the latest posting at

  54. dear readers of this blog. let shayan munshi know what a first class asshole we think he is

    google him and voila! he has a WEBSITE where you can leave feed back

    do it do it do it do it do it

  55. Another Indian March 9, 2006 — 6:28 am

    Mr Oxymoron
    I don’t blame Shayan Munshi… he is just another bong and getting scared is a prominent bong instinct… do I need to repeat that story why there is no bong regiment in the Army or the article about why bongs are misfit for army…

  56. Man, it’s sad. I didnt know all these minor details about the case.

    Just wanted to add that if I were there that night I would have stuck to my words.

    People in India should listen to more heavy metal. Gives you more spine, if NOTHING else.

    And I also want to add, some people who post/comment here on this blog….. make me so ******* proud of my roots, man. Amazingly proud.

  57. YOURFAN writes :

    @Another Indian: What is wrong with you? Why can’t you stop making sweeping comments about any religion/caste – in this case about Bengalis? My father, my uncle were in the Army and I am a Bengali. Is it that you have been ditched by a Bengali at some point of your life and you still hold the grudge? Well, all I can say is that if that happened, then I feel sorry for you but definitely feel that the Bengali was intelligent enough to see right thru you. Grow up and stop being so pathetic.

  58. @anon

    Chill, da.

    You cant force somebody to learn what he should have learnt by himself.

  59. It is really easy to comment and talk about how big a jerk Shayan is. But I bet most of these people would have done the same….I’m sure I would.We all know how much power the politicians have.I’m very sure Shayan would have been killed too if he had given his statement.Why risk your own life for someone who is already dead???If he could save her life it would be a different story.And it is not only his life that is at stake, his family would be indanger too…..It’s not that easy to be a hero in India.So people please please please put yourself in Shayan Munshi’s shoes and think about the conciquences b4 judging him…

  60. I agree that it is horrible that the murderer walks away scott-free, but do we really know the entire story? For all we know, he could have been threatened, or blackmailed. The government is all so corrupt. You mentioned that story about the woman being molested by police men. Would you be willing to risk your life-to die ?

  61. i agree to the views that you have put down. there’s definitely a furore over Shayan Munshi turning hostile. There’s no point in abusing that guy because he must be under tremendous pressure.
    But on the other side, Zaheera has been sentenced for turning hostile. why so???… she was also 19, she was also facing pressure, and the circumstances were somewhat similar. The only difference is that she is not financially well off.
    Will there be any similar kind of action against shayan munshi…….. ??????

  62. A gun - Aagun -Aguntook April 8, 2006 — 7:37 am

    Who is Shayan Munshi ? For all I know he is a 25 year old , with a website that proclaims some vital statistics ; Is it to help anyone who wants to buy a shirt for him ? He is a 25 year old , who I assume as seen quite a bit of the world in his lifetime…and yet who can only say the what he likes the most about himself is’ my smile’……..pity a boy belonging to a family of great eye physians remains so short sighted.

    Bengalis have had a fair share of Shayan Munshis and Khudirams.I say, lets dig out, the latter ……..let the rest of us, rest of the nation and the rest of the world know. Times of India and the web world in general is ruled by glitz, glamour and gasous souls.

    Can we not use the same to draw the spotlight on the brave and the inspired ?

  63. Just rummaging to see what was your take on these affairs. And I must admit that some of these incidents make you wonder whether it’s even worth the effort. But, well that is not something you would know when it happens. Nor is it easy to gauge the amount of harrassment you and your family will face if you get stuck. Therefore, for the sake of your own conscience, it’s best to simply ask yourself if you will be able to live with this, or as you said, sleep at night.
    And yes, remind yourself that sometimes it may need a little playing with the system. So if you decide to walk the talk, as Carl Sagan said

    Where we have strong emotions, we’re liable to fool ourselves.

    try harder to control your feeliings. When a crime takes place in front of you, whether you are involved or not, it will be much more pleasing to see that b*stard behind bars than to shout abuses on his face.

  64. Pingback: Anonymous
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  66. Kill Him!!

  67. shyam munshi is a bastard typical fucking bong with no balls. he shd be slaughtered

  68. Well, I had to re-visit this article, five years on for the simple reason that Munshi doesn’t seem to have changed. Last week he was asked by the Court to explain why he shouldn’t be charged with perjury, and he has just bought himself a month to come up with a good answer.
    In the intervening 5 year period, we’ve had a final conviction for Sharma, a separation between Munshi and his hapless wife, and a Mukherjee/Balan double-header in the form of “Nobody Killed Jessica” (great title).
    What puzzles me is that he is still in the news for his supposed acting career. He blatantly sold out Jessica Lall for a bribe and covered up a murder. Munshi is part of the problem with India and so are all his apologists above.

  69. @ Anwar who wrote: “Kill him!”

    WTF?!! Shayan Munshi may be a coward, but to advocate killing him is too much, mere bhai. This ain’t Shariah-country, yet !

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