Djoko Karyanto is a 65-year-old retired serviceman who lives in the Srengseng area of West Jakarta. His present occupation is providing a fast document procurement service.
He earns a modest sum extending people’s car registrations, paying late land taxes or getting a building permit — just enough to make a decent living and feed his family.
In past years, just before Idul Fitri, Djoko has traveled by motorcycle to his home village of Ngemolongan Wetan, which is about 27 kilometers south of Solo.
But this year, he decided to stay in Jakarta, expecting that traffic conditions on the way to Ngemolongan Wetan would be worse than in previous years.
His main concern was road safety. He was concerned that relatively few police officers were involved in “Operation Ketupat,” which aimed to provide safe passage for the public during the mudik homecoming season, and overall security during Idul Fitri.
Djoko’s fears appeared validated when he read about traffic accidents killing 390 people. He wondered why the government let such a tragedy happen every year. Even in some wars, not as many people are killed.
He realized that during Idul Fitri, people normally refrain from accusing or blaming others. But he just had to let it out.
“This means the government is not preventing its people from facing the threat of death, which could actually be detected and anticipated.”
Djoko’s other worry was security and order in Solo and the heated political atmosphere at a national level.
Being a distant relative of Solo Mayor Joko Widodo, who is running for governor of Jakarta, he sensed that the rival political elites were ganging up to prevent Joko from winning the elections slated for Sept. 20.
Djoko doesn’t know Joko personally, in part because of their age difference (Joko is 41) and the fact Djoko has long lived in Jakarta.
But he knew the mayor’s family as a devout Muslim family.
His mother even went on the hajj pilgrimage. Djoko has also heard about the smear campaign launched against Joko’s family, which he knew as very humble and honest folk hailing from a tiny and poor Javanese village.
Then Djoko heard about what happened in Solo on Independence Day, last Friday.
Two unidentified men on a motorcycle fired at a security post set up for the Idul Fitri holiday on Jalan Gemblengan. Two policemen were wounded in the attack; one had to undergo a six-hour operation to remove a 9 millimeter bullet from his waist.
Djoko was in shock when he heard that two days later, on Idul Fitri, an unidentified man hurled a grenade at a security post in Gladag, also in Solo. Police ran for cover and the blast did not claim any victims. Djoko thought that had he been in Solo, he could have passed Gladag.
Gen. Timur Pradopo, chief of the National Police, was very quick to deny that the two incidents could be linked to the gubernatorial elections in Jakarta, where incumbent Fauzi Bowo is taking on Joko. Timur has deployed the Densus 88 anti-terror unit to Solo.
But Djoko reasoned that, based on the sequence of events and the way the attacks were carried out, the motive could not have been terrorism.
As a former serviceman, he knows a bit about intelligence.
He did not want to jump to any conclusions, like that the attacks were carried out to discredit Joko, but then he saw two experts on television discussing possible motives behind the attacks. Both agreed that the attacks were unlikely to have been carried out by terrorists.
Djoko was angered. But then he realized it was still the Idul Fitri holiday season. He had to keep his emotions in check. He thanked God he had stayed in Jakarta.
Yanto Soegiarto is the managing editor of Globe Asia, a sister publication of the Jakarta Globe.