India is a tricky country. With all it’s cultural contradictions, outrages and societal issues, India still works as a single cohesive entity. The vastness and diversity is just mindboggling. There are agendas and there are forced marriages. Some people want more than what they have, some people are happy with what they have. Sometimes, things turn into a caustic, vicious, targetted campaign. If that meets with an agenda, we are going to see some serious trouble. It’s not as if India never seen such. The country saw many such but it came out of every of them literally unscathed.
Take for example, a recent occurence, the supposed rape of an eight year old girl in Jammu, in a place by name Rasana, near Kathua. What is the case, what happened, all of that is of a later consequence. Suddenly, three months after the crime, the news erupted on the world stage in a sustanined campaign lasting for a few days before it almost disappeared from the world. So, what is it all about?
A Single Death is a Tragedy; a Million Deaths is a Statistic – Stalin
Somewhere in the mid of January, a girl disappeared. Two days after her disappearance, her family filed a police case. Two or three days after the disappeance, they find her dead body thrown away somewhere. A regular crime – one of the likes of the lakhs of disappearances. And if it is a rape crime, it is no more than the 19675 child rapes anywhere in India(2016 statistics) – this is a major issue regarding safety of girl children and there should be no reason to make this particular case a focal point, and as expected, it was not made a focal point.
The local investigation concluded that a juvenile in the village with some character issues kidnapped the girl in a lust crime and hid her in their family barn. He caressed her, but didn’t rape her – when he attempted to rape her and when she threatened to complain to her parents, scared, he bashed her head and killed her.
That should be the end of the story. But, it didn’t. Why is it different from the 20000 odd crimes in India? The state is Jammu and Kashmir, the death happened in Jammu and the person killed is from Kashmir. An overtly Kashmir leaning government sensed an opportunity in this. It rejected the initial investigation report and sent a crime investigation team, not from Jammu where it happened, but from Kashmir. One of the main members of the investigation officers himself was once an accused and arrested in murder of a boy and rape of his minor sister. The case takes a drastic turn now. It’s no more a lust crime, but it is a hate-crime conspiracy where half of the village is implicated in rape and murder of the girl so that the community the girl belongs to – a tribal nomadic community which is based generally in Kashmir. The investigating officer of the first investigation himself is made an accessory, the juvenile who is arrested, his uncle with whom he is staying, he is made the lead conspirator and his son who studies somewhere in Meerut is arrested for rape of the girl, the rape happening inside a temple. Even now, it shouldn’t have become an outrage. And it didn’t.
The villagers protested and wanted a CBI enquiry, not a biased state enquiry. The women of the village sat on a fast unto death. When they were near death, they were forced into a hospital. It was supposed to become an outrage at this time. Nothing happened even then.
The polcie decided to file the charges in the court. Whole of Jammu erupted over that. Slowly but steadily, the issue has turned from a lust crime to a hate crime conspiracy to a demographic invasion of Jammu. There are three different complaints from the people regarding this – settlement of Kashmiris, settlement of Rohingya and making life tough for people of Jammu. In the meanwhile the government issued a directive(which was incidentally stopped by the courts) that nomads can occupy government and forest lands. The main settlers will be Gujjars and Bakerwals, mainly Kashmiri Muslims and constituting 11% of the total population of the state.
Remember, Arab Spring started when a street vendor committed suicide on police abusing him. A trivial incident which led to the toppling of some of the most stable governments in the area. Half of the Arab world is in chaos today because of that single incident.
May be, the harrassing of the villagers in Rasana broke the restraint in the people of Jammu. All of this crystalized into a massive protest with the lawyers disallowing filing of charges in the court and along with that, protesting against everything they are holding a grouse against. Some ruling BJP members also supported it. Suddenly, it caught the attention of the country. Everything was obfuscated and it was blared at the top of the voice that Lawyers prevent charges to be filed against rape accused and BJP supported it. A massive campaign was created, and according to some sources, orchestrated – Bollywood, Press, everyone started saying we want justice. Everything else was drowned in that cacophony.
The accused also asked for justice for the poor girl. Besides that, they are also asking for a fair trial. Everyone started talking about how BJP is supporting the rape accused. Parallel to this, another incident caught the attention of the media – another rape case involving a BJP MLA. Now, these two fused together and helped create a unified movement – BJP supports rapists and Hindus are rapists. By the way, there were two other major incidents – one from Bihar and another from Assam, but no one bothered about them. A few days after this when the movement was at it’s peak, two more incidents came – one from Jammu and the other from Kerala, but no one bothered even about them.
No one, not even once, thought of questioning whether the facts they are quoting are sacrosanct. Did anyone go and visit the village where the incident happened? No. Did they go and check if the chargesheet is watertight? No. Did they ask why are the protestors in favour of a CBI enquiry holding Indian flag? No. When the Forestry Minister resigned, he said, Geelani threatened Kashmir will burn if there is a CBI enquiry. Why will Kashmir burn if CBI checks whether the girl is really raped and if raped, is raped by those people? Or is he hiding something?
And then, the vulture politics began. Information over all other cases was suppressed. Some were ready with placards, some were ready with atrocity literature, all pointing to the fact that they want justice to the girl(which is fine) and that the incident happened inside a temple. Too subtle a hint!! Repercussions started. There are rumours of Hindu exodus from parts of Kerala. Hindus are being specifically targeted as rapists and this is being crystallized into an anti-Hindu protest. FIRs are filed against some people who collected money in the name of providing succor to the family of the deceased but siphoned off. It’s a field play for all the vested interests till the outrage fizzled off towards a new issue. The outrage is not confined to India. Protests were organized and funded across the countries. As like during Nirbhaya episode, India is again shown as the rape capital of the world.
The question one should really ask is, what triggered the outrage against a three month old news? Who orchestrated the protests and the hate campaigns? How did they gain the attention of the people? What did they achieve out of this? How did it fizzle off? Why was the demand for a CBI trial completely obfuscated? While BJP on the ground is supporting the protests, BJP in Delhi is supporting the government? What’s the meaning of this clash of interests?
Sometimes, I really feel, do we want justice for that poor girl, who was killed? Or are we just using her as a front to further our agendas, whatever they are? This reminds me of an old poem I wrote –
Vultures vultures vultures everywhere,
Waiting for the carcasses to feed upon
We wait for an opportunity and gloat on it
And then feast upon the bodies with glee
Is it of a Hindu killed in a terror attack,
Is it of a mercenary raiding our lands,
Is it of an aggressive and noisy neighbor,
Is it of a government flexing strong arms
It doesn’t matter us, what the carcass is,
Till we have a carcass to feast and enjoy
We will feed noisily, we won’t let dispose –
Where is relevance without vulture politics?
Let the masses be turned off by what we do,
Let the governments be discomfited and outraged,
Let our political fortunes dip by the day,
We don’t care, we have our carcasses to feed.