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Hathras-The henious crime of rape & murder overshadowed by dirty politics of selfinterests

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With so many claims and counterclaim, it’s really difficult to judge what’s the truth in Hathras’ case. To date, no one really knows the mystery behind Sunanda Puskar’s death. The Sushant Rajput case too becomes a political playground and no one is sure about what happened to SSR. Had he committed suicide or really strangulated? As a neutral person, I find myself very difficult to write anything on the Sunanda Puskar case or even on the SSR case. But I will try to explain something on the Hathras case focusing on low-level politics in such cases.

But before that let’s discuss some facts. Fact number one is that the victim is murdered for sure. No one can deny that. Point is, was she raped? Well, contradicting facts are coming out. The initial video clips show that both the victim and her mother were denying the rape charge (although admitting that there’s an attempt for rape). In a later stage, both the victim and her mother are claiming that she was raped. This may amount to an afterthought. Initially, the accusation was against one person called Sandip but after 22nd September 2020, another three people listed as accused.

The next revelation is the CDR (Call data record). Further, some villagers are corroborating that the accused and the victim were in love and ready for marriage although both families weren’t agreeing to that. Some even claim that the girl was a victim of honor killing. Some women of the village even claim that when the girl was on the ground after being assaulted, her mother was working nearby without caring for her daughter. Later on, by the insistence of villagers, the girl was taken to her house and provided water. Interestingly the guy who gave her water is now one of the accused.

How faired UP Police? I feel even if the girl denied initially (on 14th September) they should have referred for internal examination for possible rape. Sometimes a victim girl and even her mother avoid speaking about being raped due to social stigma. Then a sensible immediate investigation would have unearthed the real truth as there wouldn’t outside intervention and villagers would have cooperated. That didn’t happen for reasons best known to them. Then burning/cremating the girl in the dead of night without the consent of the family is really a horrible act. Yes, the UP government submitted an affidavit in the Court citing that they had to cremate because there could have been severe law and order situations including caste-riots. Even some retired DGPs are endorsing the police act of cremating the dead body in the night citing precedence.  But my point is simple. Law and Order is the responsibility of the Police. Thus, they can do the immediate deployment of required forces to avoid any riot and do justice to the dead body of the victim. You just can’t burn a body fearing a law and order situation!

Anyway, SIT has taken the responsibility of investigation and even Courts and CBI investigation is being referred. Something will definitely come out. But it’s unfortunate to see the dirty politics in such cases.

Although I am a believer in gender equality I know the ground situation. Women especially poor ones have no caste at all. In Indian society, such women are the most abused, suppressed, tortured, and assaulted sections irrespective of religion or caste. Forget about the poor and lower-middle-class, the recent video clip from MP where an ADG of police is mercilessly beating his wife even proves that the condition of women in many well-to-do families also not so good.

Rape is almost rampant in society. The reasons are plenty. The apathy of society (male-dominated), poor law enforcement, delayed-judicial process, and poor conviction rate in fact most important reasons. Now add to this is the dirty politics (some say vulture politics too) is making the case worse.

Suddenly Congress and many opposition parties jumped into the Hathras incident. Even PFI and some urban Naxalites also indulged in creating a social divide and inciting caste riots. We have observed how the Delhi riot was conspired and executed. The same was attempted in Hathras too, but thanks to media intervention and exposing of the conspiracy for a riot saved many innocent lives.

Well, I am not saying that opposition shouldn’t raise their voice when government machinery fails to save a victim. My point is why this anger and rioting attitude for selective cases only? In a social media platform, I find an important argument. According to that post, Congress and all the opposition parties will take up the case of gang-rape and murders if three conditions simultaneously satisfied. First, the victim must be Dalit. Second, the state must be ruled by BJP, and third, the accused must be a caste Hindu. If any of the conditions not satisfied then Congress and other opposition will remain silent. In Balarampur, there’s a rape and murder case. Two conditions also satisfied like the victim is a Dalit, the government is BJP but the accused is not a caste Hindu. Thus, they remain silent. After Hathras’ case and even before that there’s a lot of rape and murders in UP, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and in fact in every state in India. But no one is concerned because the political dividend is not there for the opposition.

To make our women folk secure and maintain their dignity the society, government, law enforcement machinery, and judiciary have to work in tandem. At the same time, the political fraternity must be united against this horrific crime. Rape is rape and the victim has no caste, religion, or section. If the political fraternity will try to take political mileage out of such heinous crimes, then I am sorry to say that such crime won’t stop.

Will all the stakeholders of the society and nation wake up and smell coffee before it’s too late?

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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