Umesh Pandey – Victim of a Sick Society

Tonight I am going to write the strongest post yet on this blog. Not everyone may want to accept everything that I’m going to write, but it’s my blog, my right to write it and if you can’t take it you’re welcome not to read in future.

An educator is, inherently a person who believes in the innate right of every human to work and strive towards their self actualization. A believer in the right of all to learn, grow and be something greater tomorrow than they are today. That’s tough enough an aspiration to hold close to your heart in today’s world. Sometimes you have to mentally deal with tragedies; a young life nipped out in a road accident, a child who loses their way and succumbs to drugs or other risk behaviours or who is overwhelmed by emotions to the point where they lose mental stability and end their own life.

However, tonight, every one of us living in our city stands with blood on our hands. That blood belongs to a 22 year old, Umesh Pandey, who saw the chance to build a life through his job as an attendant on the Gurgaon toll I understand from past reading that many of the young men who work there have come from very humble backgrounds and been trained. I’m sorry, but when was the last time you thanked these guys as you passed through, for the work they do.

Umesh was gunned down for trying to do his job!! He tried to do that job to better himself.

Which of us should be surprised? Driving on the streets of this city we feel like we are in the midst of a dog-eat-dog jungle. Manners mean nothing. Human decency means nothing. Giving way to a fellow traveler means nothing. It is a win-lose battle for supremacy bloodier than any animal battle.

Sad to say, these pitiful worms, pathetic excuses for humanity become so ‘brave’ once they climb inside their metal box (often with tinted glass to protect their individuality) that they believe that they are like gladiatiors, warriors going in to battle for personal victory on the road, pressing continually for others to get out of their way – to let them believe that whatever may be the reality of our congested world, they are the true ‘kings of the road’. How many times have most of us felt the sense of fatigue and misery that flows from having given way to these bullies, these self-proclaimed ‘kings of the road’.

Oh, what heroes they are – break every red light, cause a 15 minute jam by pushing round the outside or the inside at a slow junction. Cut people up. Weave, jag, but get in front

Tonight oh road warriors of Gurgaon you are proved to be the pathetic, immoral idiots I always knew you were. I hope you feel it. I hope you feel how you have contributed to the culture that eventually culminated in one of your fellow road warrior morons pulling that gun and shooting Umesh Pandey dead. Own up! Take responsibility and let Umesh’s death not be in vain. Let this be the start of more civil, human, respectful and human behaviour on the roads of this city.

By the way, I write this as a person who has made this place their home and who chooses to make their contribution to humanity through education in the city. But, if things don’t start to become more human in this city, then be assured …………….. I’ll be out of here. I have no intention of debasing either myself or my family – that’s a price Gurgaon doesn’t have the right to ask of me. Because, as an outsider, as a foreigner, I’m ready to say as loud as you need – this is not normal, human behaviour, accepted anywhere in the world. Don’t kid yourselves that this is normal.

Finally, if people were ready to raise up against some nebulous ‘wrong’ through the campaigns of Anna Hazare, then for **** sake let people, please raise their voices here and now. Let Umesh Pandey not have died in vain.

13 Responses

  1. I whole-heartedly second your thoughts and share your anguish on this issue. It was really sad to see a young man die at the hands of blood hounds in the garb of human beings. No amount of punishment is enough for that sick animal who killed Umesh…..Infact, just a week back, I saw same episode being repeated in front of my car…..i did get down to intervene but by the time it was all over and the guy had sped away….When I spoke to the attendant about the problem- he said can’t understand why ppl have problem in paying 21 rupees even when they drive cars worth lakhs of rupees….so true! I have had two instances of road rage in Gurgaon which I narrowly escaped and in both cases, i was shown the gun. Can you believe it, one such instance was with a parking attendant outside Epicentre and when I reported matter to the police, they didnt bother at all. And, worst is the fact that that incident happened when i picked up somebody else’s fight- that somebody was a well dressed well educated man driving a swanky car- he took no time to escape as soon as he saw me in verbal duel……..That attendant, then, showing me gun, threatened-“do you think I am carrying this gun for no reason” (obviously in his Haryanvi Hindi)…All i could reply was-“do you think you can scare me with a gun……but, realising my foolishness, i stepped back from the duel…..feeling helpless and sad…..
    And trust me that helplessness was no different from the one i felt when one of your school parent (driving her son’s to your school in a Honda Accord) shouted at me, after i objected to her driving on the wrong side of the road on rough… might remember that incident as I had left a comment about that incident on your blog- to which you did reply……

    The point I am trying to make is that, those blood-hounds in the garb of human beings are scattered all over the road…some wear white colars and drive swanky big cars and their mouth works like a gun and some are plain clothed criminals….who don’t shy away from taking a promising life and a promise for as low as 21 rupees….

    Sadly, there is no dearth of ppl like them on Gurgaon roads!

    Last but not the least, I truly feel sad for Umesh….we might have passed by him on many ocasions…..he might have handed us toll receipt….and not many of us must have thanked him for doing his job… least we all can thank him now……thank you Umesh for pressing that boom barrier to allow my car to pass, even if you didnt….for we know there are still many Umeshs who are manning those booths-to whom you will always be a martyr…..sadly, this society has stooped so low that it doesnt even mourn the death of a promising life for 21 bucks…..for doing his duty…..can only hang my head in shame!

    PS- I take pride in the fact that I always make it a point to thank attendant at toll plaza or on society gates-it makes me feel good to express gratitude to these ppl….least, that we can do!

  2. I was deeply saddened by the news. This and other such incidents tell us how money, power and position cannot gurantee that one will become a true human being. I belive we teachers (and all the others associated with education) have an important role to play today so that at least our children learn to respect all kinds of work and acknowledge even the smallest help they get from anyone.

  3. Why don’t you create awareness among the kids, perhaps the middle and senior kids, in the school about the incident and the consequences of a human life wasted in such an undignified and undeserved manner? I felt numb when I read the news. Felt rage when I read that the culprit couldn’t be identified despite cameras. Create a case study of the incident. Get the kids’ views. What they would do if they were the perpetrator/victim/police. And last, what they would do or have got done upon reading about it in the newspapers. I am sure the kids would come up with much more than my silent, impotent numbness.

  4. i wish more ppl had written such strong posts.. i wish more of us had the guts to stand up to these moronic idiots. Every time i find ppl coming on the wrong side of a one way, i stop their path. Even with a 4 year old in the car. Its scary, but thats who one is.

    And now,i m going to share your post on all my blogs. Thank you for writing it.

  5. Thanks a lot for the post. We all need a little bit of a shove to move out of our comfort zones. The ” it is not happening to me so why should I care” syndrome is killing the human being within all of us. We need more voices to start a movement. Thanks again for being the voice!!

  6. @esha. Just last Sunday I did the same that you do, stick to my lane on the one way, facing off a Meru taxi bearing down upon me contra-direction. The taxi clipped my side mirrors and the driver stopped, rolled down the windows and glowered at me. You bet it was more than scary, I thought this was it. I had my son and husband with me. It would have been extermination en famille. With selective enforcement and indisciplined drivers, the one way as it is now, is a tragedy waiting to happen.

  7. Last week end, a biker hit my Car while he was talking on mobile.
    Bumper was broken and there was a crack on the wind screen.
    Without missing a moment, he started shouting at me, so that I should not say anything to him.

    I was with my family and my wife said leave it, just claim it from insurance company.

    After realizing that we are in no mood to fight with him, the biker ran away immediately.

    News of Umesh Pandey has disturbed me for a while. I don’t want to read another news like this in future.

    Please Please, do something for the betterment of the society.
    I have lost faith in the Police and Judicial system of this country.

  8. @Anu: Am sooo glad u came here! Thank you!

    @Geetha: I know exactly what u mean. If i say that my heart does not leap to my mouth when i m standing in front of a haryana driver’s car with a 4 year old next to me, i’d be lying. So i totally know what u mean.. it IS scary. And sometimes my son asks me why i have to do this. I tell him ” Bcs it cant always be “none of my business” It has to be Someone’s business, son.” He nods very sagely, but am sure he understands none of it 🙂 Do you blog too?

    As as aside, are we all on Saksham?

  9. A strong post Mark, and a powerful one. No good will come from people not speaking their mind when things like this happen. Hopefully your words, and others, will help ensure this doesn’t happen again.

  10. More barbarism on the roads of NCR, and another innocent victim who was just trying to do his job:

    When will enough be enough?

    • Dear Mr Parkinson,

      I am with you a 100% and echo wholeheartedly- your views and feelings about this sad and unfortunate incident.Thank you for expressing your views written straight from the heart (as I see it).

      Unfair, unfortunate, unacceptable- a life wasted and many in his family affected- sadly, that is where it stops. I do wish more in our ‘educated and aware’ society felt as you and a handful of others do- and ‘did’ something about this. There should be a tangible show of public outrage-The administration and violators of the law -need to realize that such acts have no place in our society.

      However, sadly- Having returned to this city after a break of 11 years I hang my head in shame that nothing has changed. There is no cohesion in our society against such inhuman acts-(that CAN make a difference).

      After this incident I was advised by elders to keep out of trouble, not to go informing the driver of the train if men were in the ladies compartment (Deli Metro), ignore people littering the Metro stations(I happened to have made a few journeys recently) or elsewhere, blind myself to traffic violations and such..

      It reminded me of my time in college-Delhi University in 1985- When I joined a group of protestors in a public demonstration to uphold women’s rights and my photograph appeared in daily paper.The next day I was advised by well meaning family members to leave the city in case I planned to engage in such activities as I could be attacked by the offenders (as that is usually their modus operandi..). I withdrew my support thereafter.

      22 years hence…this city is the same..nothing has changed.

  11. Truly a tragedy – just wanted to let everyone know that on the NDTV website their is an address for making contributions to Umesh’s family:

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