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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 17 New Delhi April 14, 2018

Rape Victims face the Music, BJP Style

Saturday 14 April 2018, by SC


In the midst of several major developments across the nation, two horrendous incidents of crime against women—in one case sexual assault on an eight-year-old girl child—in UP and Jammu respectively have rocked the country and shocked the people’s conscience of late. And yet those ruling India today are straining every nerve to obfuscate the crimes if not doing everything to save the accused.

The two incidents are of such a nature that women’s organisations should have been the first to take them up on a priority basis and seek justice at the earliest. While other women’s organisations have not been found wanting on this score, the one representing the BJP has remained conspicuous by its silence.

In the case of the Unnao (UP) crime, the 18-year-old rape survivor’s father had, days before his death, named BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar’s brother as the one who had assaulted him and disclosed that the police, even if present at the time of the assault, remained mute spectators. As far as the rape survivor was concerned, she had alleged that Sengar (who is still at large) and his associates had raped her in June 2017; she had tried to immolate herself in front of the UP CM’s residence on April 8, 2018 and a day later her father had succumbed to septicaemia in judicial custody—autopsy on him suggested that he died of infected wounds.

The incidents brings out several issues. As The Indian Express underlines,

Impunity for a ruling party MLA is not really surprising in a dispensation....focus on the personality of the muscular Chief Minister.... But the manner in which district administration was used to restrain the victim is certainly extraordinary. And the assault on her father by the perpetrator’s family is impunity at its most audacious. It is also surprising that the father was in judicial custody when he should have been hospitalised instead.

In the case of the Kathua (Jammu) violence, a small girl being drugged, raped and brutally killed was in itself abominable and horrific. But more ominous was the communalism this crime generated thanks to the powers that be. As The Times of India notes,

.....the case has now been thoroughly communalised as the Jammu protests against the chargesheet bear out. Two Ministers from the ruling coalition have rallied in favour of the accused. What “sentiments of the people” could possibly want to cover up such a heinous crime? What ideology could justify it, what security is fortified by torturing a defenceless child?

There is no doubt that India’s stature as the world’s largest democracy stands diminished in view of the scales being tilted against the rape victims, courtesy the communal elements in power at the Centre and in States. Should the secular-democratic forces in the Opposition continue to remain mute even at this stage?

April 12 S.C.

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