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   The authorities, and newspapers, keep talking... (January 10, 1996)

The authorities, and newspapers, keep talking about holding Mr. Narasimha Rao's trial in the stadium. It gives all sorts of wrong ideas to the people.

My immediate impression, when I hear this, is the Asian Games stadium in New Delhi. Thousands of people sitting in the stands, shouting and roaring and eating aloo puris and kachoris or whatever it is that Delhi people eat while watching main events at the stadium. Occasionally, when they would get impatient with waiting, doing the Mexican wave.

The trial is held in the center of the stadium, on its football pitch. For those, sitting too far in the stands, there is the giant screen to show the action.

Somebody in authority, it cannot be the President of India, nor the prime minister, my imagination does not run that far, but somebody sufficiently big gives the nod and the trial begins. I will skips the details of the proceedings, but in the end, the crowd's approval or disapproval is sought, what to do with the accused. Thumbs up or thumbs down, the scene thus quickly changing from Nehru Stadium to the ancient Coliseum in Rome.

The other suggestion of the venue for the trial, that we keep reading about, is the Pragati Maidan. For those in Mumbai who may not be aware of it, the Pragati Maidan is where they hold all their big industrial exhibitions, German machinery, Japanese automobiles, Americans know-how. No, no Englishmen, these days they are reduced to muffins and scones at Shoppers' Stop, Andheri West.

And, once again, the first thought that comes to mind is that the trial is like an international exhibition. Exhibit No. 1, a bottle of NRI pickle from London.

A third and slightly more sensible suggestion that is being made is that the trial should be helf at Patiala House. The Patiala House is not to be confused with out Patiala Pavilion at the CCI. This one is a much more elaborate structure, quite fancy and monumental. They normally hold state banquettes there. And it would be somewhat ironical if Mr. Rao, who has hosted so many banquets there is now to stand trial at the same place. A matter of pomp and circumstance, I would say.

I have never visited Tis Hazari Court, so I do not know how it is. If it is anywhere near some of our metropolitan magistrates' courts, then it is not fit for anybody's trial, not Mr. Narasimha Rao's, not Capt. Satish Sharma's, not of the most humble of accused, picked up for moving about in a suspicious manner and not being able to give an account of himself.

I also do not understand, and this I see only on TV, why they have such crowds of people, especially pressmen, pushing and pulling at the accused as he is led in and out of the court. Most undignified.

 
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