By- Vidya Bhushan Rawat ~
Unnao’s rape survivor has just passed away. The accused are well identified and arrested. There is another Unnao horror story where the accused is well identified and for whom we saw some marches in that city. So far, I am not hearing the same cries about hanging the accused. The TV channels are not beaming the names of the accused. Nor are we witnessing the candle light marches. Nor are we seeing cries of hand over the culprits to the ‘Janata’ so that they can do the justice.
We all are ‘shocked’ over the celebrations of the joy on the custodial killings of four rape accused in Rangareddy district of Telangana. More so, the justification was coming through our political class as well as former police officers who blamed the judicial delays for the same. It means, judicial delays is ‘responsible; for the ‘bad’ performance’ of the police .
As I wrote the other day, our political class and more than that the hegemonic savarna class is ‘expert’ in manipulating facts and diverting the debate on any issue. The story and narrative built up to justify the custodial killing has two reasons : One to cover up the failures of the state to protect women in public places and second convert a horrendous tragedy into a ‘victory’ so that people do not speak of improving legal system or speaking against the culture of misogyny.
Look at the uttering of media at different occasion. Compare all the arguments during Nirbhaya, Kathua, Unnao and now ‘Disha” case. The narratives are according to the suitability of the hegemonic communities and not really to help support women. In Kathua, the lawyers refused to fight for the girl, who happened to be a Muslim nomad but neither High Court nor Supreme Court could take any cognigence of it. Hindutva trolls were blaming ‘seculars’ for ‘defaming’ the Hindus. In Unnao, BJP was attempting to defend Kuldeep Singh Sengar till last moment. There was no demands from the Karni senas and other senas to hand over the accused to them so that they can do the instance justice. In Disha rape and murder case, the identity of a Muslim accused was revealed and used to create a narrative and built up sympathy around that Muslims are the real culprits while the fact was that among the four accused, three were supposedly Hindus. But the question is why should the accused have any sympathy from us except that they must face fair trial ? But in reality, our sympathies and solidarity depend on the ‘identity’ of accused or the victim. Frankly we are living in a hugely divided times and media is building the narrative according to the comfort of its political masters and owners.
It is well known fact that during the Nirbhaya debate too ‘individuals’ became the target to cover up our institutional failures as well as the cultural prejudices. When there are public protests, politicians know it well that the issue of women in public places, cultural and religious practices, political environment will come for public scrutiny and debate. Women’s openness is basically a threat to the cultural biases in our society for which our political class as well as those who gained from these prejudices, will never agree and hence the best way is to highlight the issues where the offenders belong to poor and marginalised sections, or mainly the Muslims but cover up when the offenders are Savaranas or their big leaders or Babas are concern.
Look at the ’emotions’ when Asha Ram Bapu was arrested as rape accused. Mavericks like Subrahmanyam Swamy said that it was a ‘conspiracy’ against the Hindus to defame their ‘saints’ and Mahatmas. In Kathua they built up the same narrative and created all the hurdles against the woman who was fighting the case for the girl. Her life became a horror story of complete isolation from the rest of the society.
In the entire scheme of things the media is the real villain and playing the dirtiest role. Now after the judicial killing of the Rangareddy rape accused, the media immediately went to interview the family members of the victim who seemed to be ‘elated’ that ‘justice’ is done and now their daughter will ‘rest in peace’. Some other went to Nirbhaya’s mother who too was elated. There were others too who spoke the same language. Politicians spoke the same way. Police people who are engaged in killings were given a ‘heroic’ welcome though if you see the entire photograph, you will not find a single woman in these protests and celebrations.
Celebration of the killing of the four accused is nothing but a serious crisis that we are facing and the political media nexus is destroying sanity in this country. As I said, these narrative are according to political suitability of the ruling parties who continue to thrive on using the ‘identity’ of the accused to polarise the social atmosphere. So if the accused are Muslims or Dalits, then their names would be everywhere and there will be protests asking the government to handover them to public. If the accused are Savarnas, their names are often not repeated or shown in the media. They are simply referred as accused. We have no candle light marches in the street. There is no protest in Unnao asking the accused to be handed over to public for an instance justice. It is the ‘power’ of protests and ‘power’ of ‘media’ that decide whose narrative and story should be promoted and make a ‘national’ sensation otherwise keep quiet or distort facts.
Mass rapes and mass murders paid rich dividend to netas and political parties. Every time, it is the minorities who are made the villain and victim. Delhi 1984, Gujarat 2002, Mujjaffarnagar 2013 are the stories of horror of our system but those who supported and encouraged accused became our ‘leaders’ in the subsequent period and the victims never got justice. Do we remember anything happened to Muslim women in Surat and Mujjafarnagar ? No, all those charges leveled by them are neither highlighted nor taken seriously.
If police became the judge, jury and executioner, then we dont need a judicial system. Can we ever imagine the horror if such things are justified. It will the poor, the marginalised, the minorities and the political opponents who will be victims of executions and media will be there to report as an obedient servant. It will go to those who ‘celebrate’ on your death and therefore you become the heroes. This is serious and the Supreme Court must take not of it. It is a deliberate attempt by the media and politicians to justify these killings by putting the blame on judiciary. The same media and political class use the judiciary to delay cases othewise, why the people of 1984, 2002, 2013 getting justice ? Why we say ‘law will take its own course’ when the offender belong to powerful leaders and communities.
On 6th December, we remember Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar but look at it. On December 6th, 1992 they raged the place of worship in Ayodhya and therefore demolished what our constitution stood for, providing religious freedom to all and respecting it. Yesterday, we saw the Telangana police’s act of building up a narrative around the custodial killings.
I repeat again we have a cultural crisis. Gender sensitivity should be made part of curriculum from the very beginning and among all the public institutions. Public places must be made safe for women but that apart your homes and cultural spaces too need democratisation. Make police more effective to investigation and the response should be quick on the call on distress. No character assassination or ‘speeches’ in Thanas on why she was out in night or whether she drink or smoke ? Most importantly file charge-sheet on time and send the cases to fast track cases and all this must be under a judge who should not be transferred. We have seen many cases when the judges are frequently transferred and that delays the cases.
We sincerely hope that supreme court and NHRC will monitor this case so that in future such lapses do not happen in the greater interest of justice. It is also important that the police should not be allowed to close the case as all the accused as well as the victims are now ‘dead’. The investigations must go on a faster pace to know the real facts behind the case so that the findings are used to strengthen safety of women in public places and guilty are truly punished. We should also know whether these four had a criminal background or support of any neta or policemen. Was there a bigger network of such gangs engaged in similar things. Therefore investigations in this case must continue and for the rest of the country and media we will request to focus on the accused of Unnao. Will we all cry for the similar punishment for them too as j’ustice’ is done in Telangana .
~ Vidya Bhushan Rawat
December 7th, 2019