(The above photograph is of the mastermind of the Kathua crime, Sanji Ram and some of his cronies who committed the rape and murder of the girl child)
In Kathua, Jammu & Kashmir, India, a girl child ( her name is not being reported as per the Supreme court guideline) is dead and her body is buried deep in the grave. She was just eight years old and was raped multiple times by the local powerful men of the community including the Policemen inside a temple for days and then murdered. Her body was then thrown in the nearby forest. This was done to teach a lesson to the nomadic Muslim tribe which used to visit that place during winters. This was done by people who were drunk in the powers they believed they had by being the leaders of the majority Hindu community and the guardians of the local culture. This was done to teach her family and to others like them a lesson that they will not forget for generations.
Along with the news of her death and the way her family was treated after she was gone, a part of me has died and I still cannot find a grave to bury this dead part of my soul. Maybe my shame will help me in burning it alive if it cannot get a piece of land to rest in peace. Till then I grieve with tears of distress as my heart is shred to pieces while thinking of the inhuman misery the child would have faced in her last days.
But what about the vast majority of silent Indians and their morality who are looking at her death and the crimes committed against her with the distorted lens of religion and politics? What about the so called protectors of Hindu religion and the leaders of the ruling BJP party who chanted the cries of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ while taking out a procession in support of her rapists and murders? What about the lawyers and the court machinery which tried to block the legal process to get her justice by taking the law in their own hands and shredding it to pieces? What about the silence of the Great leader himself till media and international pressure forced him to come out with a token reply? Or the shameful silence of his fellow ministers, including the vociferous women ministers who would showcase to the world their support of helpless womenfolk at any given opportunity and yet decided to ignore this child’s death? How will their soul, if not yet dead in their living bodies, carry the burden of being silent supporters of the people who committed this heinous crime?
On social media and through media pouring of the cronies of the ruling party, a campaign is being carried out that this is just a case of another rape and murder in a country where such crimes are a daily, nay hourly occurrence. That this is not as gruesome as another one which was carried out when some other party was in power. That such and such person is speaking right now but was not loud enough when it happened to another lady.
It is as if your act of rape is inferior to ours and hence we are a better set of people. Or of higher morality.
I am sick to the core reading such messages on social media. I am ashamed of myself to have considered such animals in human bodies who share these messages as my friends. More than anything else, I am burning with rage at the impotence and silence of a vast majority of Indians, almost everyone, on social media or otherwise at such a gruesome act as if she deserved this by belonging to an unacceptable religion and class.
And while a crime is a crime and there is no such thing as an inferior or a superior rape or assault, let it be very clear that what happened to this girl child was different indeed and more heinous for the society at large.
First from time immortal, it has been the most barbaric of practice to teach a family or an entire community a lesson by assaulting their women. From Indra who did this to Ahilya, from Kaurvas who attempted the same with Draupadi, from invaders who made it a point to rape the womenfolk of their enemies to bring them to their feet, the practice has been considered the final insult. A wound that scars not just the body but the soul for life. For generations.
The master mind behind the girl child’s gruesome rape and murder, Sanji Ram committed this act with no personal malice or lust for her but to teach her family and her community a lesson. He brought India back to that same medieval period and it is clear that in sixty plus years of his life, despite having a lifetime of service as a government revenue official and a custodian of the local temple, his views were still barbaric. And the same applied to the local Policemen who actively took part in the crime. Times have changed but not the mindset of such men.
Secondly when this incidence came to light it was tried to be kept a low key affair. Yet when it was investigated and the truth exploded out in open, it was given a communal color by displaying the investigation as an act to malign the eight Hindu perpetuators. As if they were doing a yeoman service to the Hindu community by teaching the Muslim community a lesson by putting them to their place so that they can never rebel again. As if any act against the rapists was an act against Hindu religion and that the view of the majority and the noise of the mob could easily silence the lowly. They almost succeeded but for the outcry on social media and the firmness of a few Policemen, a firm lawyer and few in media. Alas to a large extent they have still succeeded with the majority looking at this with distorted lenses till date. Hopefully in times to come the light of the truth will be able to remove the darkness from human minds.
Thirdly the ruling party BJP, which prides itself in being the torch bearer of Hindutava agenda took this as an opportunity to strengthen their Hindu vote bank and actively supported the rapists with the BJP ministers lending voice to their cause. Even till date, their federal unit is trying to create an image that there is some injustice being committed towards the Hindu community or that the act on the part of the local BJP leaders was an act of ignorance and that they were not a party to being a blockade to justice. Till date, these leaders remain members of BJP and no action to remove them from the party has been taken. It looks a strong possibility that BJP feels that their act in support of their Hindu brethren may look ugly in media but will strengthen their position in the hearts of the Hindu community and lead to strong gains in their vote bank. Only time will tell but looking at the divide being created, the strategy seems to be working.
Lastly another reason why there is a muted reply from most Indians is also because this goes beyond religion. It is also about class. The girl in question belonged to a nomadic community, a lower economic class in the minds of middle class India. One who do not belong to the new India but are a part of the miseries of Bharat that should be hidden from human eye as they are worthless. The slum dwellers, the nomads, the road side people, the lowly, exist in India in millions and yet are just an eye sore for most Indians. Their lives, their concerns, their miseries do not bother the middle class India and so shall it remain. Alas that creates another barrier for not letting the cries of the dead child reach Indian hearts.
What can be done?
The case has now got so much news coverage that it cannot be just forgotten and done with. India cannot allow that what with even the UN secretary taking cognisance of this act. The PDP government has asked for a fast track court procedure and hopefully justice would be delivered to the girl child and her family. Yet is that enough? The child can never come back. The life would never be the same for her family or even for the community that she lived in. The divide between the two communities in that local area may now widen for generations to come.
What is most bothering is what has happened to India and can India recover from the after-shock of such a tone deaf response from its majority population. Have the Hindutava forces been so successful in dividing India that we now even accept crimes against women, nay girl child as part of a collateral damage in the scheme of developing a wider agenda? Has India totally lost its morality and its mojo?
I have no answers as I am not able to understand this modern India. Many like me cannot.
But we cannot be silent spectators. Nor can we allow this to happen again. Not to any child or even to any woman. The face of our mothers, sisters and daughters should stare us every time we rationalise such am act or decide to remain mute.
India shining. Acche din. Ram rajya. Forget it.
The least you can do is to keep your soul alive in such dark days for the sake of the womb that gave you life!
Posted in Times of India on 15th April 2018. Link below-