The Curious Case Of Vikram Buddhi
By Dr. Shah Alam Khan
13 December, 2009
It is ironical that the day President Barrack Obama held his Nobel Peace medal in hand, the American judiciary soiled its hand with blood of justice...….cold and savage. Again the American consciousness failed to separate the good from the bad. And yet again an innocent was sacrificed at the altar of lady of liberty, the symbol of freedom and hope for millions across America. The sentencing of Vikram Buddhi, the IIT Alumnus from India has come as rude shock in this part of the world. The curious case of Mr. Buddhi, a graduate of the IIT Mumbai, is an eye-opener for all those who till date believed in the fairness of the American legal system.
The case of Mr. Vikram Buddhi is perplexing. In December 2005, an Internet message appeared urging the people of Iraq to avenge the death of 312,769 Iraqi women and children. Subsequently this message was traced to the computer of Vikram Buddhi, a graduate student at Purdue University in Indiana. Vikram was picked up for interrogation and released on January 18, 2006 by the U.S. Secret Service, complete with a report that he posed no threat.
For obscure reasons, in May 2006 he was mysteriously picked up again and jailed. The case went to trial, crucial evidence was hidden from the jury by a hostile judge, and a guilty verdict was returned on June 25, 2007. Finally on December 11, 2009 he was handed a four years nine months prison sentence. So much for posting hate messages against the then President George W Bush and his team of gangsters. I suppose if this was his crime, then at least half the world’s population would be behind bars! We all know how popular the butcher of Baghdad was!
America and its claim of freedom has been under the scanner for long. Post 9/11 the American claims of justice, egalitarianism and liberty have been admonished on a regular basis. No wonder, President Obama announced the closing down of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in his first Presidential address to the nation. It is important that in a world with impending terrorist threats every country has a right to defend its land and subjects. But it is also noteworthy that governments have no right to trample human dignity in the name of salvaging freedom and liberty. Needless to say American establishment has a habit to stamp on the rights of others. Their past and recent misadventures in the Middle East, Vietnam, Central America, Rwanda and Afghanistan are an appalling testament for the same.
The tombstones in America’s human right cemetery have a grim story to tell. Vikram Buddhi’s case is not the only one. The mockery of justice and legality in the legally correct land is a regular feature. Although it is a different matter that those who suffer are African Americans, Native Indians or expatriates from the third world; the not so equals in an otherwise “equal & just” American social order.
The most glaring of all cases is that of Gary Tyler, an African-American, who is serving a life sentence in Louisiana. He was convicted by an all-white jury in 1974 for the murder of a 13-year-old Timothy Weber, a white student who was shot during intense racial clashes in Destrehan, Louisiana. Tyler, who was 17 at the time of the incident, has consistently denied involvement in the crime. In yet another story of blatant violation of human rights at the hand of an unjust legal system, two prisoners Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox languish in solitary confinement for the last 37 years in a prison in Angola, Lousiana. Their crime, political activism in prison. No other living prisoner in the United States is believed to have spent so long in solitary confinement as these two. And of course who can forget the thrashing of Rodney King in March 1991 at the hands of Los Angeles Police officers, the custodians of law.
There is no justification to the obscenity of Vikram Buddhi’s remarks on the internet. Equally there is no justification of handing him a half baked prison sentence, concluded in secrecy and painted with prejudice and hate. The American people should realize that it is not what he said is important, but why he said it. The universal detestation for America comes from its extraordinary record of war and destruction across the globe. American hegemony and its fall out is something which should worry the common American as a citizen of this world. Aggression breeds frustration and frustration breeds people who are vulnerable to the follies of the rabid. How lop sided can the American system be in condemning the handling of Roxana Saberi’s case by the Iranian authorities when they themselves have a Vikram Buddhi at hand? Justice is a bewildering weapon. Its presence can be sweet and fresh but equally it can hand a savage blow to the very cause it is meant to fulfill. American establishment and most importantly the American people need to introspect. Vikram’s case has revealed the vulnerability of their system.
It won’t be long before the American dream dies for millions of Indian students who wanted to go the same path as Vikram Buddhi; but for the common American the nightmare has only begun. Freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of identity are at stake. Once all Indians, all Chinese, all Arabs, all Blacks, all Browns and all Natives are swallowed by the legal American anaconda, it will come for their blood.
Dr. Shah Alam Khan
Department of Orthopedics
All India Institute of Medical Sciences
New Delhi, India