In the scorching heat of April, 2018, the youths of this country were out on the street demanding justice for the daughters of India as the country was outraged by the barbaric details of how an eight-year-old child was raped in Kathua following which the local politicians and muscle men batted for the accused and did everything in their power to influence fair investigation in the case. Deepika Rajawat, the lawyer fighting the Kathua girl’s case went on record to say that her life is in threat and that anything could happen to her, all because she was fighting to get justice for a child who was not even old enough to understand what had happened to her.
What Deepika Rajawat dreaded ended up becoming the fate of the father of the victim of Unnao rape case, a minor girl, whose cry for justice fell on deaf ears for two long years eventually leading to the death of her father in his fight for getting justice for his daughter. The accused in this case was a BJP MLA and muscle man from Unnao, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the same man who did not shy away from smiling at the cameras. Even, the Allahabad high court questioned the credibility of the state machinery working in the case and observed that the law and order was actually working in collusion with Kuldeep Singh Sengar.
I was one amongst the thousands of youth of this country who was sitting at Jantar Mantar asking for justice for the daughters of India but little did I know that a disturbing trend awaited me, a trend of defending the rapists, sometimes in the name of religion and on other occasions simply because they are too influential and have access to the corridors of power. The general discourse was easily diverted from the increasing number of rape cases and the violence against women to the religion and caste of the rapists and we have nobody but ourselves to blame because like every other time we were happy to take this bait and indulged in selective outrage after carefully examining the religions of the victim and the rapist.
The result of our selective outrage stares us in the eye today when Brajesh Sharma, the owner of the shelter home in Muzaffarpur where over 30 minors girls were repeatedly raped and tortured, just simply smiles at the camera and walks off with ease. He knows that many would shield him because he can open a can of worms and those in power would not like that. In fact, Manju Verma, the Social Welfare Minister of Bihar has already given a clean chit to her husband Chandeshwar Verma who is also under the scanner stating that she has lived with her husband for years and she knows him really well.
She has also refrained from taking moral responsibility of the incident and has shown no inclination towards resigning. If this was not enough, a girl who was a victim in the case mysteriously disappeared from the NGO in which she was shifted and all this happened under the nose of the state machinery led by Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar who finally said that he was ashamed of the incident. There is no doubt that Mr. Kumar should be ashamed of the incident but that is not the only thing he should be ashamed of, this apparently visible nexus of politicians and rapists is also something which he should be ashamed of and strictly act upon.
If this was not enough, then gruesome details have emerged from another shelter home in Deoria in Uttar Pradesh where over twenty minor girls have been raped night after night. The stark similarity which Deoria shares with the Muzaffarpur case is that both the shelter homes enjoyed government funding at one point of time highlighting the nexus of politicians and those who claim to be a part of the civil society but are only in it for money and exploitation of those who they vouch to serve.
In this shielding of rapists, we are dealing with two very grave problems in our society, the first is rape and violence against women which emanates from a highly patriarchal society like ours and is a social problem which can be only tackled by an overhaul of the social fabric of our country. A dream which may take years to come true but is not impossible to achieve, if we make efforts and move in the right direction. However, the sad part is that currently we are moving exactly in the opposite direction with communalization and politicization of rapes and violence against women and therefore the problem has now soared to alarming levels.
The second big problem is the extreme power which politicians enjoy in our country which makes them believe that they are above the law and therefore they blatantly smile at you and challenge you to stop them if you can. They know that we shall not stand united for justice because they will simply say that rape occurred in a temple or in a mosque and in a minute we shall be divided and start questioning everything that justice stands for.
I urge to you all that not all is lost yet and we still have time to realize that rapists, murderers and criminals have no religion. Show me one holy book which encourages such barbaric acts and I will rest my case but there is no such holy book which exists and if it does exist then I must tell you that it is an unholy book. The least we can do for justice for our daughters is to stop getting divided on communal lines and speak in one voice for all the daughters of India and their safety and only then this disturbing trend of the rapists getting shielded in the name of religion, castes and politics will come to an end.