There are celebrations all around because of the encounter of the four accused in the Hyderabad rape case. But I think this action is more dangerous and requires re-thinking before the celebration. Here’s why:
When the police make an arrest, unless your action is proven guilty in the court of law, you are under police custody, and according to our constitution, when you are under police custody, you have the right to state protection. Instead of state protection, if you are killed in the process without any trial, it is called a custodial killing. If we start celebrating custodial killings, it might have far dangerous consequences for us. Where is state protection?
When one form of violence is answered with another form of violence, it just becomes a violent game. Research says, it often does not stop anyone. Political scientists who have tallied the successes and failures of violent and nonviolent movements show that the evidence is piling up that Gandhi was right—non-violence is a better strategy.
In a book ‘Civil Resistance Works’, Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan found that about three-quarters of nonviolent movements get some or all of what they want, compared with only about a third of the violent ones. Sr. Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth”.
A PhD research has interviewed 100 convicted rapists at Tihar Jail in New Delhi post the Nirbhaya incident over three years. Her research finds that most of the men she met there were uneducated; only a handful had graduated high school. Many were third or fourth-grade dropouts. She also writes about the absence of sex education in our Indian education altogether, and therefore, no understanding of ‘consent’.
“When I went to research, I was convinced these men are monsters. But when you talk to them, you realize these are not extraordinary men; they are really ordinary. What they’ve done is because of upbringing and thought process”.
Hence, by killing four men, you did not give any education to the men who needed it; you did not question our culture and practices that perpetuate rape at all.
We need to demand fast delivery of justice, fast-track court proceedings. According to NCRB, 2017, there are 92.9% violence against women cases pending in city courts: a total of 41,302 cases are pending for trial in six district courts of Delhi alone. Are we all falling for an easy way to kill all these 41, 302? We need to demand faster processes from the state machinery, not celebrate their action of killing and keeping all the cases pending.
If killing is the answer to rape, what do I do to the men who stare at us and make us feel uncomfortable, to the men who send unsolicited messages, to the men who pay women less for their work? What exactly are you suggesting?
It has been reported that the encounter spot at Chetanpally became a tourist spot where people showered the police with flowers and cheered their action. It is the same police who did not register the complaint of the missing person case when the victim’s family approached them. They sent them from one police station to the other; we need to hold our system accountable—not celebrate systemic breakdowns!
It is time we rethink about our celebrations once again. The victim, in this case, was denied the justice of a fair trial in the court of law.