Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The kick-ass rifle

I read this article in Strategypage some time back about afghans rediscovering The Lee-Enfield rifle. It really amused me, since in India it has been in constant use since it was invented in 1885. More then 17 million have been made since then and the Ishapore factory in India still makes it. This rifle has seen a lot of history and I have seen this rifle at very close quarters. In fact, hind quarters is the right term since I got hit in the butt by the Lee-Enfield rifle stock. I wince every time I hear the term rifle-butt.

It was for a noble cause and very long time back (no pun-too painful). As mentioned in my post "Definition of Excessive force" it was 1991 and I was protesting with a lot of students against reservations in educational institutions based on a persons caste. I was waving a black flag and right on the front lines. We were moving towards the parliament when the Indian Gestapo (police) started shooting tear-gas at the crowd. I used the flag to pick up the tear-gas shells and threw it right back and suddenly everybody started doing that. I was single-handedly responsible for demise of that metal canister tear-gas (or so I would like to believe) since the next time they started using the ones which burst on contact.

So to make the long story short I was in the front, waving the flag when the police on horses charged. I stood my ground for a while and when I looked back the others were long gone. I said," bloody cowards " and ran like a gazelle. Too late, one of the policemen on side-lines ran swinging his rifle with full force and hit me hard on my rear-end. I thankfully didn't fall and kept running. I managed to crawl into a building and avoided going to the jail. I couldn't walk for a few days and needless to say standing was preferable to sitting. So the moral of the story is that never be at the rear-end (pun intented-pain fades with time) of a retreating protesting crowd when the police charge.

I had a friend with me that day. He had promised his family that he would not join the protest. We lost contact when the chaos started. The next day his father called him and asked him how was yesterday. He started with his story which was cut short when his father showed him the newspaper. It had a big picture of him running with a big Sikh policeman on a big horse chasing him with a raised baton. We had a good laugh over the whole episode.

After a week my local magazine vendor showed me the cover of the a magazine and guess what? I was there in full color with a bunch of other people. It was an interesting picture because it had something else; one of the guys caught in a naughty act (to put it mildly). I have that magazine with me somewhere so I will try to upload the cover soon.