There is something rotten in the state of India, and the stink is getting mighty unbearable.
On January 22, 2015, the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign was launched, earning accolades from the ruling party’s supporters, and grudging acknowledgement from the rest. Three years later, the slogan has become a bit of a joke. Beti Bachao wasn’t a promise but a threat, they say while sniggering as they send the now viral ‘forward’ to their favourite WhatsApp groups. The rape of a minor in Kathua, and a teen in Unnao has triggered a reaction in the woke masses. But it is tinged with unintentional apathy.
In the era of hashtags, outrage has the shelf-life of a banana peel.
To wake up in the morning and read of sexual harassment, rape and molestation is now the new normal, you see. We’ve grown numb. Our anger is satiated by simply posting a status on Facebook or RTing a tweet on Twitter or sharing a forward that invariably expresses much better what we think ourselves. We were horrified when a 14-year-old boy raped his three-year-old neighbour, we were shocked when a 50-year-old inserted a wooden object into a minor, we were stunned when a teen was gangraped and her organs systematically ruptured by the accused. But we did nothing concrete, nothing drastic, nothing even remotely resembling a social revolution to teach our men better. What, you ask? I do not know. But perhaps as a community united against sexual harassment of any kind, we could have come up with something better than the social media nothings we indulge in.
In June of last year, a teenager accused Uttar Pradesh’s Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a BJP lawmaker of raping her. It is being said that her case was earlier not registered because of ‘discrepancies’. The family, which has been fighting for justice, suffered a severe blow earlier this week, when the girl’s father died in police custody. He had been arrested with severe wounds on his body. Wounds, he claimed were caused by the BJP MLA’s brother who wanted him to take the case back. It has taken the father’s death and imminent threat to the girl and her uncle, to get everyone to notice.
On January 12 of this year, an eight-year-old was lured to an isolated spot in Kathua, abducted, sedated and hidden inside a temple premises and gangraped for five days. She was found murdered, her neck snapped and plummeted, her legs broken, her body bruised beyond recognition. All because the alleged rapists wanted to teach a lesson to the Bakarwal community the girl belonged to. They wanted the nomadic Muslim group to move away from ‘their’ locality.
Eight people, including a police personnel, have been accused of the crime. And here comes the horrendous bit that should wake us up from the apathetic stupor we’ve sunk in. For the first time in this country, we have witness protests not against the alleged rapists, but against holding them in custody.
A mob Lawyers in Jammu staged a protest against the state police and the charge-sheet they had drawn up accusing the eight of brutally and deliberately planning the whole incident. The protests were backed by local BJP lawmakers.
The next time you read something horrifying and think humanity cannot sink any lower remember those protesters who thought their political agenda was more important than a viciously-raped minor. Remember those who took the sides of the alleged rapists, because nothing ever will be as sickening as that.
We’ve been saying for quite a while now that people in the country have been growing increasingly intolerant. Intolerant of minorities, intolerant of dissent, intolerant of law and order, intolerant of food habits that don’t ascribe to the ruling party’s toxic agenda, intolerant of winks, intolerant of love marriages that say religion no bar.
But perhaps to this growing list, we must now add women.