The recent case of the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu has shaken the conscience of the entire nation. Reading reports of the trauma that the child underwent have left me in tears time and again. She was drugged, gang-raped, strangled, bludgeoned to death and then dumped in a forest.
I wonder if there is anyone in India whose blood doesn’t run cold after reading the reports. How can our heads not hang in shame? But what horrifies me more are the people who are supporting the accused instead of the victim and communalising the whole issue.
According to reports, Hindu nationalists shouted, “Jai Shri Ram” to save the accused from being prosecuted. The rape was committed in a temple, with the consent of the priest. Not only that, the lawyers who are supposedly responsible for delivering justice, failed. The Jammu and Kashmir bar association threatened the victim’s lawyer to withdraw the case.
Shockingly, Hindu activists argue that some of the police officers who are working on the case are, like the victim, Muslims and thus cannot be ‘trusted’. Dozens of Hindu women have helped block a highway and organized a hunger strike.
We have heard outrageous arguments like “They are against our religion”, “It’s the plot of the Muslims and the opposition to distract everyone from the issue of Rohingya Muslims”, “Why don’t you care when women are raped in Assam and Bihar?” and more to condone such a heinous crime. According to the accused, the rape was to scare the Bakharwal Muslims away from the Rasana village in Kathua, a district in Jammu.
But the bigger question is, why did the media cover this case three months after it was reported? Why did the so-called protestors not raise the issue then and there?
When you delve deeper into the issue, you realise that every protestor has their own hidden agenda. No one cares about the girl. Corruption and vote bank politics are so deeply rooted in our society that this has become a political play, not a quest for justice.
This case leaves me wondering. Have we lost all our humanity? How can we make an eight-year-old girl the scapegoat of our religious prejudice and hatred? How can anyone justify such beasts?
Political and societal reactions have revealed the internalised misogyny and the religious biases that still run strong in India. Someone has rightly said, “ab to gaaye Hindu aur bakra Musalman ho gaya hai, bhagwa Hindu aur hara Musalman ho gaya (now the cow has become Hindu, the goat Muslim. The colour saffron has become Hindu and green a Muslim).”
To those who justify this act by saying that Hindu girls get raped too – two wrongs don’t make a right. We thought that there would be a change in India after the Nirbhaya case, but it has actually become worse. The increasing levels of brutality are giving the entire nation nightmares. How many such cases do we need to realise that rape is not right? I just hope that “Beti Bachao” doesn’t become a warning, rather than motivation.