Dear Youth Citizens of India,
On August 23, 2021, I was reading the newspaper like every other day and what I stumbled upon left me shocked, to say the least. That a rape accused in Guwahati has been granted bail by Assam’s High Court only because he was young and considered a ‘future asset’ for the state. Unbelievable, right? Yes, we are living in the 21st century, an era of modernisation and advanced thinking, and yet, incidents like these leave me in a complete state of shock, anger, hopelessness and fear about what lies ahead.
The ridiculousness of the judgement took time for me to comprehend. But slowly, as I let this sink in, I remembered one of the sayings of Dr BR Ambedkar, commonly referred to as the ‘Father of the Indian Constitution’. He had famously said that no matter how good a country’s constitution is, if the people who are supposed to protect it and regulate according to its laws are not good, then that constitution doesn’t hold any value. And this is exactly what I have been thinking about ever since I read this news.
To me, this seems like a mockery of the law. The impunity of one’s actions and no accountability for them is what my friends and I have been fighting for. Granting bail to a rape accused on these grounds has sent a wrong message — that the accused is free and beyond the purview of law and rules, while the survivor’s complaint is not valuable. In this case, the accused was set free since he is a student of a prestigious academic institute and hence an “asset” to India. Asset on what grounds? For whom? Which India?
Secondly, such judgements are not just shocking, they are disheartening as well because we (SAANS, a leaders’ collective) have devoted our lives to fight against these injustices in society. As I write this, I feel weak and disillusioned. Something tells me that our struggle for justice, a world free of crime, violence and slavery has somewhere taken a huge hit. I truly feel for the survivor and can only imagine the degree of hopelessness and betrayal she must has felt.
Thirdly, do we really understand the crime and aftermath of rape? Such a crime traumatises and stigmatises her for life; she is rid of her dignity as society forces her to believe that she isn’t worthy enough for justice. How could the judge look past all of this and let the perpetrator go? What about the asset of faith and dependability on the justice system that the survivor had when she lodged this case?
As a youth leader fighting for gender justice, I have witnessed similar judgements by judges in various Courts that are huge setbacks to me and this generation. But still, I have hope. It is something that comes from my will to fight, not give up and continue struggling against the odds as we move on this journey of life. I believe that the judiciary, the government and the citizens of India will follow constitutional values and principles. I still have hope in the Indian justice system and wish that the youth today are able to keep that faith.
To all the judges — our hope is that the judiciary will make bold moves that turn out to be examples for others to follow, and not decisions that people despise and hate. This is my only request. And my right to expect.
With hope, patience and a lot of strength,
Note: SAANS (Shramik Adhikar Aur Nyay Sangathan) is a survivor’s leaders collective that fights against gender-based violence, human trafficking and exploitative labour, access to justice and rights, and a life with dignity.