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The Living Fear

July 3, 2013

It may have been the bard’s invention and not historical fact.

Shakespeare has Sir Pierce Exton say King Henry IV said ‘Have I no friend will rid me of this living fear?’ and looked at him. (The Life and Death of Richard the Second, Act V Scene IV).

Henry of Bolingbroke had usurped the crown from Richard and imprisoned him. There was no “legal process” to execute the past king, but Richard, still alive, was a threat. So Exton took it upon himself to rid Henry of the living fear. No legal process.

With all the legal codification, and the endless adjournments and change in politically appointed prosecutors, the legal process seems to be very slow and ineffective in prophylactic sterilisation of the environment. There must be impatient policemen – or would there be 555 cases of alleged fake encounters in less than four years?

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Data from answer by RPN Singh, Minister of State, Home Affairs in Lok Sabha to unstarred question No 1368 – 5/3/2013

Is it the speedy non-judicial dispensation of justice, without the complexities of the Evidence Act?

Or is it zealous officials protecting the State? It seems the largest number of these is in UP (138 cases). Then why is Gujarat (8 cases) getting all the negative attention? The answer must be blowing in the wind.

But there is an interesting aspect. Assuming threats to the State were eliminated by intelligence agencies or the police, and the news presented to the leader, may be the President, the PM, or CM, or whatever. Would they behave as Bolingbroke did with Sir Pierce when Richard’s coffin was brought? Shakespeare’s version is interesting:

EXTON: Great king, within this coffin I present
    Thy buried fear: herein all breathless lies
    The mightiest of thy greatest enemies,
    Richard of Bordeaux, by me hither brought.

HENRY BOLINGBROKE: Exton, I thank thee not; for 
                thou hast wrought
    A deed of slander with thy fatal hand
    Upon my head and all this famous land.

EXTON: From your own mouth, my lord, did I 
    this deed.

HENRY BOLINGBROKE: They love not poison that do 
                poison need,
    Nor do I thee: though I did wish him dead,
    I hate the murderer, love him murdered.
    The guilt of conscience take thou for 
                thy labour,
    But neither my good word nor princely favour:
    With Cain go wander through shades of night,
    And never show thy head by day nor light.
    Lords, I protest, my soul is full of woe,
    That blood should sprinkle me to make me grow:
    Come, mourn with me for that I do lament,
    And put on sullen black incontinent:
    I'll make a voyage to the Holy Land,
    To wash this blood off from my guilty hand:
    March sadly after; grace my mournings here;
    In weeping after this untimely bier.

    [Exeunt]

The leader may choose to travel on a pilgrimage to his own Holy Land!

Exeunt!

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