“She couldn’t tell her arms from her legs, couldn’t tell which hand was right and which left. She never thought who was a Hindu, who a Muslim,” said the 35-year-old father of the rape and murder victim in Kathua. This is exactly why the gruesome crime was committed after all; to drive away the Bakarwal Muslims from that area.
Today, almost every picture that we see on social media is about getting justice for the eight-year-old girl in Kathua. But every second picture that we see is about explaining why religion and politics should not be involved in her case. By doing this and ignoring the root cause of this hate crime, can we truly grant justice to the Kathua rape and murder victim?
According to the charge sheet, this horrendous crime was a planned conspiracy to instill fear and dislodge the Bakarwal community from Rasana. Hence, it is an act of terrorism and nothing less. It is extremely important for us to identify, that this terrorism is a manifestation of religious extremism, or else we will be too late to deal with it.
This conspiracy was driven by hatred towards a community, and this is what happens when hate consumes us – we hit new lows of humanity. Though it seems difficult, the accused might be punished. But till such time this degree of hatred prevails, many more such girls are waiting to suffer the same fate. Hence, to demand justice for the eight-year-old girl, we need to urgently work for ending communal hatred in the society.
This incident caught the attention of the media after a rally was organised to defend the accused. In one rally taken out by the newly formed Hindu Ekta Manch, two BJP ministers of the J&K government (now former ministers) also spoke in the favour of those accused.
I find it very essential to link this with another disturbing incident which took place in Rajsamand a few months back. An innocent labourer was hacked to death with an axe and burnt, allegedly by Shambhulal Regar, while his minor nephew allegedly filmed the attack. Police reported that he was motivated by communal hatred. Everyone was seen saying there cannot be something more horrible than this, but a few days later hundreds of people flooded the streets of Udaipur in support of Shambhulal Regar and waved a saffron flag in the premises of the district and sessions court. Lakhs of rupees were also collected as a donation for his family and recently a tableau was taken out on Ram Navami honouring him.
Today, he is probably a hero for thousands of extremists in India. He is in a high-security cell at Jodhpur central jail but is still allegedly managing to release videos spreading more communal hatred. It is very intriguing that in his last video he hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also said, “ Jihad ka pura matlab dhoka hai…yeh hamara desh ke sare system aur har warg mein farzi dastawez banakar unmen ghus kar deemak ki tarah hamein andar se khokhla kar rahe hain.” (The entire meaning of jihad is betrayal… They are getting inside every system and class in our country by making fake documents and like termites, making us hollow from within.) He clarified that he is not ashamed of his act and he did it to save the women of this country. This was a holy cause for him.
Very similar events were witnessed once again in Kathua, where rituals were allegedly conducted before committing the crime. People came in support of the accused; and interestingly, the outfit formed to defend them was named the ‘Hindu’ Ekta Manc. The chants echoed in both these rallies were similar. The only difference was that the saffron flags were replaced by the tricolour and the workers by the ministers.
The police investigation also points out that people had a rivalry with Bakarwals because they believed that they were involved in drug trafficking and cow slaughter. “During investigation it transpired that a particular community had a general impression that the Bakarwals indulge in cow slaughter and drug trafficking,” says the 18-page chargesheet filed by the police in the court.
However, after seeing the unimaginable outrage, the supporters have changed their stand. But no matter how impossible and disturbing it might sound, the rapists and murderers of the eight-year-old may be hailed as heroes in the near future for carrying out those extremely inhumane acts against her. A justification will be given which is going to be much bigger than the wrongdoings for them. Because this is how terrorism works. People having pure personal and political motives, mobilise others by using the name of religion and make them believe that this needs to be done for a holy cause.
We have seen what extremism in Islam has brought to the world. It has no doubt destroyed the lives of the victims as well as the culprits. But the unimaginable difficulties it brought to an ordinary Muslim are enough for us to be aware and make sure it doesn’t happen with any other religion. That is why we need to resist the hatred which is being constantly fed to us. But is resisting this hatred that easy?
Just four months before the murder of this 8-year-old girl, a 55-year-old woman was killed. A group of people celebrated her death on the internet. Nikhil Dadhich was one of them who made headlines for justifying Gauri Lankesh’s murder. This is because our Prime Minister personally follows him. Nikhil is one of the many serial abusers who are continuously involved in harassing women online and is followed by PM himself.
An online campaign was started against this called #BlockNarendraModi. It was followed by news reports in major newspapers. PM Modi hasn’t unfollowed him even today. How can we then separate politics from the crime against women, when the moral motivation to spread hate is received from the top leaders themselves? While explaining her experience working with the BJP IT cell, a former volunteer Sadhvi Khosla alleged in the book “I Am a Troll”, “It was a never-ending drip-feed of hate and bigotry against the minorities, the Gandhi family, journalists on the hit list, liberals, anyone perceived as anti-Modi,” she is quoted in the book as saying.
The message which is making rounds on the internet which say religion and politics should not be involved in this, mentions that we should not make it ‘BJP vs Congress’; which is technically true. Though many of the members of the Hindu Ekta Manch are associated with the BJP, the Congress leaders were also seen defending the accused. Hence, both the parties should be held answerable.
By separating this issue from politics, how can we allow the government and opposition leaders to run away from their responsibilities; or even worse. allow them to help alleged rapists in order to get votes?
Chargesheet against Gurmeet Ram Rahim was filed by the CBI back in the year 2007 and an order to frame charges of rape against him was released by the CBI court in 2008. In spite of this, before the Haryana elections, many major leaders went there to seek his blessings. This went on for several years by different political parties, where the parties would help him and the baba would help them in getting votes.
How can we not relate politics with a rape case when the accused rapist is himself an MLA of the ruling party? How can we ignore the fact that it is the arrogance of power that threatened the family for months and then killed the father of the survivor by thrashing him mercilessly?
We have already ignored the politics when it comes to rape cases. The result of it is that the man who provokes a mob to say that they should bring 100 Muslim girls, if they take one; was made the CM of the largest state of India.
When even primetime television had finally dedicated it’s time to discuss only Kathua and Unnao rape cases, Yogi Government amidst all this outrage decided to withdraw rape and kidnapping case against a former union minister, Swami Chinmayananda. How can we still not relate politics with rape?
We have very little time to understand that the enormous hate being continuously fed to us is to polarise the citizens and gain votes. This hate leads to the abduction an 8-year-old girl, her being drugged, gangraped and then mercilessly murdered. While sometimes it leads to the hacking and burning of a poor labourer. It may also lead to a ruthless lynching of a 52-year-old man by his own neighbours.
But this will also hot be enough and hence rallies will be taken out to defend these crimes and the tricolour will be wrapped around the dead body of culprits. All this will be done to make sure that more hatred is created against the victims, which will help in forming an ‘ekta’- a majority vote bank. To honour the Kathua rape and murder victim, we must renounce this hatred in its entirety.
A new photo was seen getting viral lately saying “#JusticeforChild – kyun ki naam mein log mazhab dhund lete hai.” The intentions of the people sharing this might be good, but thankfully the mission of spreading hatred hasn’t reached its completion. The sensitivity of the Indians has not being ended entirely. The protest against such a heinous crime will continue irrespective of her identity.
But to truly demand justice for the girl we must do exactly opposite of what they want us to. She was killed to spread communal hatred; we have to spread communal harmony instead. She was tortured so that one community goes away from the other; we have to make every attempt to bring communities together.
Organising regular multi-cultural meetups or simply visiting the place of a hate crime victim will not only save many more such girls but will also help us in making a society which will know no difference between communities, just like how the eight-year old girl didn’t know the difference between her hands.