It was a repeat performance of some sort. The drama was based on the same script; the
acts were played out on the same locations; while the characters representing the state
remained almost the same. Their adversaries in this episode arrived from Vietnam.
Quite like the previous episode, the powerful protagonists learned from a "secret source"
about "a conspiracy" being hatched by the Vietnam returnees and, without much effort,
secured the magistrate's approval in throwing the latter into the dungeon. It was after this
blanket internment that they began figuring out who among the lot are the "real culprits",
and no less importantly, what crimes have indeed been committed! Until then, all remain
in detention. After all, not only have they "tarnished the image of the country", they were
on the verge of committing grievous offences "against the state and the government" and
also the people.
While the deceived, distraught and disheartened returnee survivors of trafficking serve
out their days in detention with the faint hope that someone would soon realise that an
error has been committed, and the nightmare would soon be over, in all likelihood the
principal protagonists will submit petition after petition for further extension of the
detention period that were merrily granted in the first episode. The high-ups in the
administrations of law enforcement and justice delivery will not care to monitor the pace
and progress of the investigation, notwithstanding the fact that the charges are grave and
merit their active engagement.
In the meantime, the distraught loved ones of the survivors run from post to pillar to
secure their release; oblivious of the fact that they are not fortunate enough to have the
blessings of Tyche, the Greek goddess of fortune and prosperity, or that of Lakkhi (her
Hindu counterpart) but also of Astrea, the goddess of justice. Their lived experiences have
taught them that goddesses by nature are biased and it is only the rich and the powerful
who are eligible for their bounties. For these wretched families it is yet another hurdle,
albeit an unexpected and a high one, that they have to overcome.
Moved by the plight of this group of returnee survivors, the respected editor of the largest
circulated English daily expressed his utter disappointment at the actions of the
authorities. A group of 44 concerned citizens and a platform of 19 migrant rights
organisations demanded "the immediate and unconditional release of and compensation
for the incarcerated migrants and exemplary punishment for the perpetrators". The
question of whether we "the citizens" have been relegated as "subjects" bereft of the
rights enshrined in the constitution of the republic (a document the political leadership
swore to uphold when taking office and the apex court is committed to protect) haunts
the conscientious citizens.


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