‘I will not protect you in this place,’
Said an IPS officer to the father of a sixteen year old young girl, after she was gang-raped twice and murdered at her village in Madhyamagram by a gang of thugs last year. How much more deranged can that possibly sound? Girl gets gang-raped, files a police complaint, following which she is raped again by the same group of thugs in retaliation for her “blasphemous” act, soon after which she is set ablaze in her own home by local goons.
Aren’t we already worn out enough, reading article after article about rape incidents that take place in yet another godforsaken rural town in India? While we plonk ourselves down on that favorite brown leather couch, feet resting on the coffee table, with an expression of superficial concern across our faces as we intently make that important Facebook status update about the saddening story of yet another young girl humiliated by anti-social diabolic fiends, it’s about time we seriously question where exactly it is that our supposedly “developing” society, in general, is heading?
In a country where rape incidents have spouted fierce protests against the state’s waning interest in women’s freedom and security, every successive incident emphasizes not only the indifference by the government, but also a saddening degradation of human society. Ballot papers cast in favour of any party in the state elections are always underlined with expectations of reasonable protection and promotion of public and individual interests of the people in the state, and with the goal of progression, and not regression in mind. Looking back on the promises made in West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government’s continual hostile and shockingly insensitive outlook towards the apathetic level of security to women currently existing in the state is indeed disheartening.
The Madhyamagram rape case has garnered public attention to a large extent on account of the flabbergasting denigration of human society that it represents, as well as the reigning government’s failure to address the worsening situation of crime against women in the state. The case involves a young adolescent, abducted from her home, who was gang-raped by thugs. On her return the next day, the girl and her parents visited the Madhyamagram police station to lodge an FIR against the culprits. Not surprisingly, as it is in a large number of such cases, not only did the cops at the local police station seem largely unconcerned, but for some strange reason, more than inclined to cover up facts. The father, a taxi driver, alleges that they were forced to wait for hours to file the FIR. Moreover, on their way back home, the daughter was abducted from the taxi and raped a second time by the same thugs. When the father went back to lodge a second complaint, he was apparently made to file one with distorted facts. It is indeed shocking that instead of intervening and providing a survivor of rape and sexual assault with the necessary protection at a time when her life and self-dignity could be at stake, the police chose to not only keep silent on the matter, but to side with the perpetrators of the crime by their reluctance to ensure persecution.
By this time, not only was the girl severely traumatized, the family too was terrified by the thugs’ brazenness and shameless audacity. The girl had been ruthlessly tortured by these men a second time, and scarily enough, for having the courage to bring her assailants to book, forcing us to question the reason for the alarming lack of morality and righteousness that appears to be spreading through no specific section of society. While we agree, sarcastically of course, that a government that functions with public welfare as the objective in mind perhaps does have more important matters to deal with, the government was obliged to take stringent action to protect the young girl.
The entire family, worried for their daughter’s security, moved to another place near the airport. This development was apparently recognised by confidantes of the accused, soon after which ( hold your breath ) the girl was set ablaze in her own home! The father admitted his daughter to a local hospital, but predictably enough, the child was denied minimal treatment allegedly on account of a lack of financial resources at the time, despite the father’s repeated pleas for the girl’s transfer to the burns ward in the same hospital.
What was worse was that to add to this shockingly disheartening series of events, the police, instead of taking charge of the matter and booking these monsters for murder, were allegedly desperate to cremate the body before daybreak to prevent any further speculation and second-guessing with regard to the matter, grossly failing in performing their duties as the only protectors of the public. As if the daughter’s death wasn’t enough, there was more to come. Instead of providing the family with necessary assistance, the cops allegedly asked the man to stop plying his taxi and to go back to Bihar.
The Mamata Banerjee government tried relentlessly to cover up the incident and dismiss it frivolously and outrageously, even attempting to suggest that the girl’s death may have been an act of self-immolation. Sadly enough, instead of taking up this opportunity in view of the multiple previous lost opportunities to establish a safe and less-hostile environment for women as it currently exists in the state, the government has chosen to save its own behind by refusing to acknowledge any failure to perform required duties on behalf of the state itself, when quite evidently, lack of interest expressed by the state and a possible nexus between the cops and the accused locals appears to be the real reason behind the unfortunate incident.
It is undoubtedly essential that there be a grave thought given to understanding whether the leaders we bring to authority at the Centre and State really are all that capable of handling the raging social problems that exist in our society today, in addition to reasons behind the incapacity and indifference of an important state mechanism to fight crime — the police.