The last few weeks have been distressing for India with multiple reports of minors being raped and sexually assaulted across the country. Rape, no matter what, is a heinous crime. Irrespective of the religion, caste or creed of the accused and the victim, irrespective of how powerful the accused is, it is imperative that they are tried and punished by the law. All of us need to work towards a society where our children are safe and parents don’t live in a constant fear of their kids getting raped or sexually assaulted.
In Surat, on April 6, an 11-yr-old girl was found raped and murdered with 86 injuries. She was raped for eight days. In Delhi, a 12-year-old was raped and her family was sent the WhatsApp video of the crime. Similar to these, on April 22, report of a 10-year-old being abducted and allegedly raped in a madrasa came from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. The girl went missing on April 21. The father registered a case with Ghaziabad police. The police then found her in a madrasa.
Let us know the facts related to the case based on the police statement:
- The 10-yr-old girl was abducted on April 21, when she went to buy milk at 2:30 pm. She said the accused took her to the Madrasa to make her meet his friends.
- Police found the girl inside the madrasa on April 22 and she gave a statement in front of a magistrate and the MLC on April 23 which pointed to sexual assault.
- Police arrested a 17-year-old boy under IPC section 376 and Sections 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act for the alleged rape of the girl.
- Considering that the accused is a minor, he was sent to a juvenile home.
- Family of the victim said that they don’t know the accused and alleged that the Maulvi (Cleric) of the Madrasa was involved.
- After outrage, the case was transferred to crime branch from east district police on April 24.
- Alok Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, told The Indian Express that the police might conduct a bone ossification test to ascertain the age of the boy arrested.
- Reported by The Indian Express today, the girl has nowhere spoken of gang rape in the police statement and said that the accused 17-year-old first took her to the madrasa’s terrace, and then to the second floor after the Maulvi left. Nonetheless, the crime branch is questioning three other men to know if they were present during the alleged rape.
- Maulvi was arrested on Friday(27th April).
The case took a political turn on Wednesday, April 25, when East Delhi BJP MP Mahesh Girri accused the Maulvi and alleged that the rape was part of a larger conspiracy hatched by the Maulvi. The MP demanded his immediate arrest. He claimed that the girl was sedated and was in mental trauma hence he could not meet her, so he was relying on the family’s statement. He also alleged gang rape.
After meeting the family on Wednesday, Delhi BJP workers led by MPs Mahesh Giri and Manoj Tiwari, took out a candlelight march from the Central Secretariat metro station to India Gate in the evening, demanding #JusticeforGeeta (name changed).
— Manoj Tiwari (@ManojTiwariMP) April 25, 2018
The protestors also asked why Bollywood is not outraging on the issue as it did earlier this month in the Kathua rape case. When Bollywood did respond, this is the response they received
Dear Hindus, if you have any self respect or dignity left, PLEASE do not watch any movie that stars @ReallySwara, Kareena Kapoor, @humasqureshi Kalki Koechlin, Sonam Kapoor and all other placard wala B grade actresses. Hit them where it hurts.
— Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) April 16, 2018
E-commerce giant Amazon distanced itself from Swara Bhaskar and deleted a promotional tweet made by her after the actress spoke against rape. This is how the news was covered by international media:
Since the Ghaziabad rape was reported, the ones protesting “in support of the victim” have indulged in whataboutery, asking – why are the ones who were vocal during the Kathua and Unnao rape cases are now mum when a 10-yr-old victim was raped in a “Madrasa”? Few of the questions circulated on national and social media are:
आसिफा और गीता में फ़र्क क्यों ??
देवस्थान के नाम पर तमाशा,
मदरसे के नाम पर सन्नाटा ??#JusticeForGeeta
— ROHIT CHAHAL (@rohit_chahal) April 27, 2018
— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) April 27, 2018
Kathua & Unnao vs Madrasa – Not all rapists enjoy political patronage
Kathua rape happened in January and initially, none of the national media outlets reported it. On February, Hindu Ekta Manch led by two BJP ministers took out a rally with national flags in their hand, demanding the release of the police officer accused of raping and murdering the minor girl, even then there was no buzz on national media.
Appalled by the marches & protests in defense of the recently apprehended rapist in Kathua. Also horrified by their use of our national flag in these demonstrations, this is nothing short of desecration. The accused has been arrested & the law will follow its course.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) February 16, 2018
It finally got media’s attention in the first week of April when Jammu Bar Association prevented the crime branch from filing the charge-sheet of the case. The Supreme Court also took cognizance of the matter and questioned lawyers for obstructing justice.
The point of consideration lies in the fact that in Kathua rape-murder case, lawyers protesting to prevent the filing of charge sheet and two BJP ministers defending the rapists is what outraged most sensible minds including those in the media and Bollywood.
They demanded justice for the 8-year-old victim who was brutally raped for five days and later murdered. Her family was not even allowed to bury her body in the village. The whole crime was committed to force Bakarwal Muslim community out of the village.
In Unnao rape, the victim struggled for a year to get an FIR registered against the accused BJP MLA even after meeting CM Yogi Adityanath. She and her father tried to commit suicide in front of CM’s residence. Her father later died in police custody after being brutally beaten up by the MLA’s brother and his goons.
Even after all this, BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar was not arrested and UP government and the Centre was lacking in action. Finally, Allahabad High Court ordered the CBI to arrest Kuldeep Singh.
The MLA is still in BJP
Both these cases, where the rape accused were given political patronage, angered the public and prompted some from Bollywood and other influencers to take notice because people sitting in power turned arrogant to the point of defending the rapists.
The Prime Minister was silent too. There is still no statement of condemnation from him on his ministers being a part of the protest defending rapists and one of them even being accused of rape.
Let’s Make Sense
Now let’s compare the above crimes with the rape in Ghaziabad Madrasa. BJP, which was silent in Unnao rape case and protesting in Kathua rape-murder case, is now protesting and taking out marches. A protest by the ruling party is appreciable. However, the question it leaves behind is for what and against whom? What are the demands and who is supposed fulfil them when they are the ones in power?
Here are a few contours which The Logical Indian believes every individual must run through their rational minds:
1. In the Madrasa rape case, the accused was already arrested and the police are investigating the matter. BJP MPs are demanding the rapist to be hanged. Who is their demand directed toward when they are the ones in power in Uttar Pradesh?
The incident happened in Ghaziabad, UP and the UP Police is under the state government. Uttar Pradesh is a BJP-ruled state. The ones in power in the state have the power to ensure justice is served. The only ones who can fulfil their demands are they themselves. So what is their protest really for (or against)? Is their protest against the rape, against rape in a Madrasa or against Bollywood’s silence in the case?
2. It is needless to mention that the recent online and offline outrage on the Kathua and Unnao rape cases trigged the government to take stern action against perpetrators of rape and a cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 21, 2018, approved an ordinance to allow death penalty for rape of children below 12 years of age. This affirms that the outrage by common people, media and Bollywood worked and resulted in bringing a stringent law, which was not present earlier. Now that we already have the ordinance signed by the President to pave way for awarding stringent punishment, including death penalty, what outrage do the protestors want from Bollywood?
3. In the Ghaziabad rape case, no one is defending the rapists. No citizen, no minister has taken out a protest march in favour of the rape accused.
4. No lawyers’ association is preventing the charge sheet from being filed.
5. In the Ghaziabad Madrasa rape case, the ones in power are neither apathetic to the rape victim’s plight, nor have any of her family members been harassed/ killed allegedly on the directions of a sitting MLA. The accused is already arrested.
6. BJP leaders, including PM Modi, appealed not to politicise rape, but the manner in which members of his own party are “protesting” in recent times, a heinous crime like rape is not only being politicised but also communalised.
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) April 19, 2018
Rohit Chahal is the National Media In-Charge, Bharatiya Janata Party (Youth Wing)
A question that needs answers from each of us is: Does rape become important to us (or not) depending on the religion or caste of the accused or the victim? What BJP and some people on social media are doing is a dangerous polarisation as it tries to project that the gravity of rape depends on the religion of the victim and the accused.
A request to BJP leaders – you are in power; you have the police, the machinery and the law at your disposal to make a better system where rape victims are not harassed for trying to get an FIR registered. Don’t give tickets to rape accused, ask your ministers and leaders to not make misogynist/sexist comments, make the judicial system better by appointing judges on time (over 120 recommendations for High Court posts pending with the government). The lab test in Kathua rape had to be done in Delhi because Jammu & Kashmir didn’t have good labs. Build forensic labs in each state so that the investigation is done on time. An astonishing 12,072 number of sexual assault cases are currently pending due to lack of forensic labs to examine DNA samples.
And finally, let’s do our bit for justice in cases where the system is not listening and work towards a society where rapes and sexual assaults are not common in the way it is today.