HANG RAPIST JUDGE
- Mahatma Gandhi
After practicing law for 15 years in Delhi courts, she passed the MP Higher Judicial Service exam and was posted in Gwalior on August 1, 2011. After training under Justice D K Paliwal, she was posted as additional district and sessions judge in Gwalior in October 2012.
In April 2013, she was appointed chairperson of District Vishaka Committee. Her annual confidential report of January 2014 termed her work "excellent and outstanding". But that was not enough. The administrative judge from Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh HC kept pestering her to visit him in his bungalow alone, she alleged.
Responding to her complaint, Justice Lodha said, "This is the only profession where we refer to our colleagues as brothers and sisters. This is unfortunate. I will take appropriate action after the complaint is placed before me."
The very next day of sending a message to dance in his residence, the administrative judge told her that "he missed the opportunity of viewing a sexy and beautiful figure dancing on the floor and that he is desperate to see the same", she alleged.
The judge got angry when she did not pay heed to his "various advances and malicious aspirations". She was subjected to intense scrutiny by the administrative judge. He got more agitated when no fault was found, she said.
"I started commencing court at 10.30 am instead of 11 am and extended the working hours in the evening by one hour to 6 pm," she said but complained that this did not appease the administrative judge, who continued to harass her.
Tired of harassment, she along with her husband on June 22 went to meet the administrative judge, who was "irritated" to find her with her husband and asked her to meet him after 15 days. But even before 15 days could have elapsed, she was served with a transfer order.
In her complaint, she said, "The administrative judge, along with district judge and district judge (inspection), possibly made a false, frivolous, baseless and malicious reporting to the chief justice of MP and got me transferred on July 8, in the mid-academic session of my daughters to a remote place Sidhi by overruling the transfer policy of MP HC."
Her representation for eight-month extension to allow her daughters complete the academic session was rejected. Left with no choice, she called on the administrative judge and pleaded against the abrupt transfer saying it would affect the studies of her child who was in Class 12.
In her complaint, she said, "Mockingly, he replied that I faced this mid-academic session transfer to Sidhi for not fulfilling his aspirations and for not visiting his bungalow alone even once and he also threatened me that now he will spoil my career completely and make sure that I face ruinous prospects all my life."
She claimed the HC chief justice declined to meet her when she wanted to apprise him of the situation. "I was left with no option but to resign, so, I resigned on July 15 in compelling, humiliating and disgraceful circumstances to save my dignity, womanhood, self-esteem and career of my daughter."
Seeking justice from the CJI, she said, "Only because the perpetrator is as powerful as an 'administrative judge' that he can cast an evil eye on me, and I do not even get a hearing. What system are we following and leading this democracy to? If this is how a mother, sister and wife can be treated, who is herself no less than a judicial officer duty-bound to protect society and law, what constitutional goals are we serving?"
Madhya Pradesh sexual assault on Woman Judge
As if this was not enough, the woman Judge was asked to dance to a Bollywood item song by her harasser. According to reports, the administrative judge asked her to “perform dance on an item song” at a function at his home and influenced her transfer to a remote location despite her requests. However, she excused herself citing her daughter’s birthday.
In her complaint, she alleged that the High Court Judge also forced her to visit his bungalow alone, which she never did. The woman Judge was transferred in the middle of her daughter’s Class 12 academic session. When she protested, she was told this was happening because she did not fulfill his aspirations. In her complaint, she said, “Mockingly, he replied that I faced this mid-academic session transfer to Sidhi for not fulfilling his aspirations and for not visiting his bungalow alone even once and he also threatened me that now he will spoil my career completely and make sure that I face ruinous prospects all my life.”
In her compliant to Chief Justice of India RM Lodha and Supreme Court judges Justices HL Dattu, TS Thakur, Anil R Dave, Dipak Misra and Arun Misra, as well as the Madhya Pradesh HC Chief Justice, she said, “Only because the perpetrator is as powerful as an ‘Administrative Judge’ that he can cast an evil eye on me and I do not even get a hearing. What system are we following and leading this democracy to? If this is how a mother, sister and wife can be treated — who is herself no less than a judicial officer duty-bound to protect society and law — what Constitutional goals are we serving?”, a Times of India report said.
She further states that the administrative judge, along with district judge and district judge (inspection), possibly made a false, frivolous, baseless and malicious reporting to the Chief Justice of MP and got me transferred on July 8, in the mid-academic session of my daughters to a remote place Sidhi by overruling the transfer policy of MP HC.”
The Times of India report further quotes Justice Lodha saying, “This is the only profession where we refer to our colleagues as brothers and sisters. This is unfortunate. I will take appropriate action after the complaint is placed before me.”
The victim passed the MP Higher Judicial Service exam and was posted in Gwalior on August 1, 2011. After training under Justice DK Paliwal, she was posted as additional district and sessions judge in Gwalior in October 2012. In April 2013, she was appointed chairperson of District Vishaka Committee. Her annual confidential report of January 2014 termed her work “excellent and outstanding”. But that was not enough.
It has been more than a year since the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act was passed. But it seems that the Act is powerful only on the paper and nothing more as several companies fail to implement them. The vast majority of companies and several establishments are still trying to figure out what to do. According to the Press Information Bureau of the Government of India, “The Act will ensure that women are protected against sexual harassment at all work places, be it in public or private. This will contribute to realisation of their right to gender equality, life and liberty and equality in working conditions everywhere. The sense of security at the workplace will improve women’s participation in work, resulting in their economic empowerment and inclusive growth.”
However, it is an irony that this case comes at a time when the Central Government has directed all the State Governments to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in their police forces to effectively deal with cases of sexual violence and crime against women. Only time will tell if this will become a reality soon or not.
An Indian woman has said she was gang-raped by four officers at a police station, the latest in a string of sex attacks in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The woman said she was attacked when she went to the station overnight on Monday in the Hamirpur district to seek her husband's release.
"At 11.30pm when there was no one in the room the sub-inspector took me to his room and raped me inside the police station," the woman told CNN-IBN.
She filed a complaint with a senior officer on Wednesday over the attack, which allegedly occurred when she refused to pay a bribe to secure the release of her husband. Virendra Kumar Shekhar, a police official from Hamirpur, said: "The procedure will be followed. The victim has filed a complaint and the guilty will be arrested soon."
Sub-inspector Balbir Singh said a criminal case had been lodged against four officers from the station.
The case is the latest in a string of rapes and murders in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, where the chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, is under growing political pressure over his handling of law and order.
Last month, two girls, aged 12 and 14, were gang-raped and lynched in their village. They were attacked after going into a field to relieve themselves at night because they did not have a lavatory at home.
Their families refused to cut the bodies down from the tree for hours in protest, saying police had failed to take action against the attackers because the girls were from a low caste.
The prime minister, Narendra Modi, , in his first comments on the issue since the hanging of the girls sparked public outrage, on Wednesday urged all politicians to work together to protect women. Modi warned politicians against "politicising rape", saying they were "playing with the dignity of women" in his first speech to parliament since sweeping to power at last month's election.
India brought in tougher laws last year against sexual offenders after the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi in December 2012, but they have failed to stem the tide of violence against women.
Also on Wednesday, a 45-year-old woman was found hanging from a tree in Uttar Pradesh. Her family said she had been raped and murdered. A police officer said five men were being questioned over the incident, which occurred several kilometres from her home in Bahraich district. "They [her husband and son] have alleged that the woman, before being strung up from the tree, was raped and murdered by these men," the district superintendent Happy Guptan told AFP.
By Indira Jaising
A midst the rising din of the demand for death penalty for rapists comes the news that three judges of the Karnataka High Court have been involved in what has come to be described as a 'sex scandal' on the outskirts of Mysore at a place called Roost Resorts.
Our attention is now directed to those who dispense justice rather than those who knock at the doors of justice. In both cases, we are talking about the use and abuse of women — those who are victims of sexual abuse, and those who are used as sexual objects, willingly or unwillingly.
After the reports in local newspapers that three high court judges were found with women at a resort, there was the usual crop of denials. Although the Mysore police were called in to settle a brawl, on being told that the persons in question were judges they said that they heard no evil and saw no evil.
And everyone thought the matter ended there.
Attempts to get the names of the judges or of the women in question drew a blank. The bar association also drew a blank as most people said, "Don't quote me… but…"
On November 30, the Bangalore edition of The Times of India published a front-page story giving the names and photographs of the three judges and confirming that the Intelligence Bureau had done an investigation and come to the conclusion that the incident had indeed occurred. There were still no details of the incident, though it was stated that the report has been given to the chief justice of India.
There were reports on the same day that the Karnataka High Court chief justice had sought the transfer of the three judges to Patna, Jammu and Kashmir and Guwahati. Apparently, the chief justice has agreed to this request and the transfer orders have been issued.
Then came the news that the chief justice of India has set up a committee of inquiry under the 'in-house' procedure consisting of the chief justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, the chief justice of the Madras High Court and the chief justice of the Patna High Court.
There were still no details in the press about the actual incident and the entire episode continued to be referred to as a 'sex scandal'.
What is interesting about these reports is not what they reveal, but what they conceal. It is a conspiracy of silence. If the information is now available to the chief justice of India, why is it not being made public? Do we, the public, not have the right to information? Ironically, the morning newspapers brought the news that the Freedom of Information Act has been passed. What are the legitimate limits of the right to freedom of information and the requirement of keeping information a secret? This episode would make an interesting case study.
What exactly is at stake here? There is much that should concern the nation about the incident. This is not a case about the private morality of the judges, be that as it may, but about the abuse of office that they hold. What has not been made known is that the three women in question are women lawyers practising in their courts.
What is at stake here is the pollution of the stream of justice at its very source. There must be countless cases in which these women appeared before these very judges day in and day out of their routine practice. Can one honestly say that in such a situation justice is being done "without fear or favour"? Judges swear on oath of allegiance to "bear true faith" to the Constitution and do justice "without fear or favour". How well have these judges honoured this oath?
What is at stake here is the cynical use of women as sexual commodities. The usual justifications have already begun making the rounds. If the women have not complained, what objection can anyone else have, it is asked. What is lost sight of is the fact that the judges are in a position of dominance vis-à-vis the women, in a position to do favours that pertain to their office.
What is at stake here is the cynical use of public office, the seat of justice, for personal petty gain. It is irrelevant whether the women consented or not. The usual blame game will now begin — blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator; the usual loose talk about the character of the woman in question; the usual attempt to cover up by diverting attention from the actual incident to the motives of those who brought the incident to light.
What is at stake here is the perception of women as sexual commodities by those who are responsible for sitting in judgment over cases brought for and on behalf of women.
The issues at stake here concern one half of Indians. With what faith can Indian women approach the courts demanding the right to equality, the right to be free from sexual harassment or rape and the right to live with dignity, if the persecution of judges who sit in judgment over them is non-negotiable?
In the circumstances, the suggested solution is worse than the offence — to transfer them to Patna, Guwahati and Jammu and Kashmir. Why these particular cities? Are they not an integral part of the country, or are they mere islands within the country that are considered 'punishment postings' where people are sent a la 'crossing Kala Pani' of the old days? To the credit of the Guwahati Bar Association, it protested against the proposed transfer.
The only decent thing to do is for the chief justice of India to disclose full details of the incident so that rumour-mongering comes to an end. This would be in the best interest of the judiciary itself.
As things stand, the rumours are making the rounds that there were more than three judges involved, that the women were professional call girls, many of which are baseless. We, the people, have the right to know. The conspiracy of silence must be broken.
The judges in question must neither be assigned any judicial functions pending an inquiry nor be transferred to sit in judgment over others. Two of the judges are stated to be additional judges. They must not be confirmed. If there is prima facie evidence against the one remaining judge, the chief justice must recommend his impeachment.
It is time for all concerned bar associations, bar councils and other male-dominated bodies of legal professionals to act and ensure that there is no cover-up. There is little point in showing sympathy to women in judgments and in seminar rooms, or in recommending the death penalty for rape if we cannot deal with the men who dispense justice.
There are contempt of court petitions pending in the Karnataka High Court against some of the publications for disclosing details of the incident. Civil society and women's organisations must demand that justice is now done when it comes to the judges themselves.
The law of contempt can offer no solution to the crisis of credibility in the judiciary that this incident has thrown up. One positive aspect of the incident is that it is only after the chief justice of the high court issued a public notice inviting information that he received 20 representations, which led to the discovery of the truth.
Let the truth now be made public.
Ajay Sura, TNN | Jun 2, 2012, 04.09PM IST
CHANDIGARH: The family of Ruchika Girhotra, a minor girl who allegedly committed suicide after molestation by former Haryana director general of police (DGP) SPS Rathore, has given up its fight for justice in the court of law after 22 years.
The special CBI court Panchkula on Friday accepted the closure report submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in two cases - attempt to murder and forgery of documents- filed against former Haryana DGP SPS Rathore.
Ruchika's father Subhash and brother Ashu raised no objection to the closure report.
Admitting that he was not in a position to pursue the matter further, Subhash said, "I do not see any hope now. We feel cheated. My family is vulnerable. The circumstances have pushed us back by 20 years."
"When Rathore was convicted in 2009, I met union home minister P C Chidambaram who assured me of justice. I thought time and system had changed and dared to move fresh complaints against Rathore." On January 12, 2010 the CBI registered three fresh FIRs against Rathore - attempt to murder, abetment to suicide and doctoring of documents. However, in November 2010, the CBI submitted the closure report in two cases. The closure report was accepted by the court on Friday.
"But now after finding that the system cannot be changed, we decided not to pursue it further," Girhotra said.
Ruchika's disillusioned father said that he had presented a lot of material and some witnesses related to the fresh cases before the agency. "But the agency was adamant on closing the case."
Subhash forced his son and family into exile after Ruchika's death, fearing further harassment at the hands of the former DGP. During this period, the family shifted between several cities and returned to Panchkula many years later only to lead an inconspicuous life.
The third case against Rathore- abetment to suicide - is still pending. The CBI could not file any report as the Punjab and Haryana high court has ordered status quo on it. Besides Rathore, former Ambala SP KP Singh, sub-inspector Prem Dutt and assistant sub-inspectors Jai Narayan and Sewa Singh were also named in the FIR.
In its closure report, the CBI has said that the allegations levelled by Subhash Girhotra and his son Ashu against Rathore were unfounded. The CBI also claimed that the allegations could not be substantiated "as per the documentary evidence and oral testimony of witnesses."
August 12, 1990-- SPS Rathore, then IG and President, Haryana Lawn Tennis Association (HLTA) molested Ruchika
September 1990--Ruchika expelled from school for 'indiscipline' following her allegations against Rathore
September 3, 1990-- An Inquiry report indicts Rathore
October 23, 1993-- Ruchika's brother arrested in several theft cases
December 28, 1993-- Ruchika consumed poisonous substance
December 29, 1993-- Ruchika died
August 21, 1998-- High Court directs CBI to conduct inquiry
December 21, 2009-- CBI court sentenced six months' rigorous imprisonment to Rathore
January 12, 2010-- CBI registered three fresh FIRs leveling charges of attempt to murder, abetment to suicide and doctoring documents
November 10, 2010-- CBI filed closure
Fighting Sexual Violence In A Country Whose Police Doesn’t Respond To Distress Calls
The calls were not getting answered, not a single one of them. The friend was recounting the tale of a female friend held hostage by some people in her own house with horror. I was calling the Senior Superintendent of Police and other officers, district administration, the local police station. Every passing minute was sending shivers down my spine, he continued.
Worst was the response of the police station where full rings went with nobody answering them. What for these police stations are if they cannot respond to such emergencies? The story, in short, was eerily similar to countless other stories of bodies of women being turned into the site of ‘honour’ and battles for the same. The younger brother of the woman in this case had married a girl out of love and then the couple eloped for safety. The case did not involve any caste conflicts, ironically, as both of them belonged to the same caste. It was the girl’s decision to choose her life partner on her own that had irked the family members, self-designated custodians of the girl in any patriarchal society. It was this they wanted to avenge and had, therefore, landed on the woman’s house in the dead of the night and held her hostage.
They had also confiscated her phones for stopping her from seeking any help. She was asked to tell where the couple was and threatened with rape and getting paraded naked if she did not. She, in fact, did not know. Yet, she asked for her phone on the excuse that a friend might know the couple’s location and she will ask her. That is how the friend I was talking to came to know about the incident. She, in turn, tried to contact every possible person who could help starting with the local police.
As I said before, the police did not answer the calls even once leaving her flummoxed. Then she started contacting her friends in media and women’s movement who could, finally, reach the police and make them act. The hostage situation was broken next morning after hours long ordeal for the woman. . Thankfully, she was rescued before getting violated despite being kept in illegal confinement. That too, it broke because the woman was well connected and her friend could reach people in positions of helping What would happen to an ordinary woman with no such contacts is anybody’s guess.
This happened in a country which saw a national outpouring of anger against violence against women after brutal gang rape and subsequent death of a young girl in Delhi last December. The popular protests had shaken the government of the day into action and it came up with new laws against rape and promised heightened security for women across India. That the changes were cosmetic gets betrayed by stories after stories of violence against women being committed in the country. Uttar Pradesh, most populous province of the country has been in news for spate of gang rapes and murders. Madhya Pradesh which has not been in news despite performing worse is officially acknowledged rape capital of the country. Even places which were considered safer for women in the past have seen a rise in incidents of sexual violence. Mumbai, for instance, witnessed a passenger attacking a female bus conductor and tearing her clothes in broad daylight.
The new law, evidently, has not worked on the ground. It will not for laws, however good, need institutions to work and if institution are defunct and/or deviant they are bound to fail. What law can save a woman if the police would not do as much as taking a distress call? What law would save someone from getting raped if she is held hostage for hours in her own house? What law would save a girl wanting to marry out of her own choice if the police cannot offer as much as protection to her? The country has seen cases of Khap Panchayats (caste councils) killing couple having police protection and then threatening the judge who sentenced those responsible. Interestingly, the local police did not beef up the security cover for the judge despite her repeated pleas as they were hand in gloves with the murderers.
Introducing newer, harsher laws is not going to curb sexual violence in India. Only thing that can is radical restructuring of the criminal justice system by making it responsive and responsible. Having dedicated teams to respond to emergencies might be a beginning but until and unless impartial investigations ending in speedy convictions become the norm, nothing will change on the ground.
Till then, we can make do police stations which do not respond to distress calls.
Rethinking Rule Of Law In The Times Of Rape Bid On A Judge
An attempt to rape a judge, that too in Judges’ Compound in Aligarh which remains under twenty four hour vigil of the Provincial Armed Constabulary speaks volumes about the status of law and order in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India. Who will be safe on the streets when even a judge is not spared by the rapists? No one, in fact is, as evidenced by the recent spate of incidents of sexual violence against women from marginalised and dispossessed backgrounds. The gruesome gang rape and murder of two minors in Badaun, the most ghastly of them, has caused a national outrage just a few days before this incident. The brazen attack on the mother of a rape survivor in order to force her to withdraw the complaint against the accused, currently in jail, in nearby Etah was another glaring example of total collapse of rule of law in Uttar Pradesh.
Sadly, the state has never been known for maintaining even law and order, forget enforcing rule of law. It has rather had the dubious distinction of being the proverbial Bad Lands, the countryside run by might and not by rulebooks. With both political and bureaucratic leadership oscillating between the denial to dodging mode, the recent cases of sexual assaults have merely reinforced the image. Think of a Chief Minister saying that rapes were common and a Google search would return many “Badaun like incidents’. Think of his father, a former chief minister and current parliamentarian, terming rape as minor mistake. The Director General of Police of the state, however, took the crown by justifying the incidents of rape as ‘normal’ in a state of the size and population of Uttar Pradesh.
There were others, largely in the secular liberal intelligentsia of the country, who saw a political conspiracy hatched by the Hindu right behind defaming the state. They came up, rightly, with the data from the National Crime Records Bureau that shows Madhya Pradesh as the rape capital of India and raised questions over the undue scrutiny of Uttar Pradesh. The intelligentsia, unfortunately, seems to have got it wrong once again, first time being its silence on the cases where victims came from dispossessed and marginalised communities. The lack of outrage over sexual violence against women from Dalit, tribal, minorities and other such communities until the cases are really gory, as Badaun was, has led to a section of people losing faith in them, it would do better not to lose all.
The question, however, is if the failure of a state in providing security to its women can be used as an excuse to defend the total collapse of rule of law in another? Should not a single case of rape be horrifying enough for the state to wake up and fix the system? Can a state really take refuge in competitive statistics and shirk from its responsibility of maintaining law and order, at least? This is exactly where that the government of Uttar Pradesh has failed and failed absolutely. That’s not bizarre if one sees the number of criminals in it right from its ranks and files to the ministry. After all, the state has a dubious distinction of seeking the withdrawal of rape charges against a minister in ‘public interest’.
It is in this context that the rape attempt on a sitting judge must be seen as a wakeup call for both the citizenry and the state. No people can live in perpetual fear of violence against women and state's inaction will merely increase both vigilantism and control of the mobility of women in the name of safety, a dangerous thing for a democracy. Parrying away the questions over the state of governance in Uttar Pradesh is not going to serve any purpose, only bringing the criminals to justice will. The state government must ensure speedy and impartial justice to the victims and their families to restore their faith in the system.
A Few Minutes With The Iron Lady Of India
By Ravi Nitesh
It was a meeting, an interaction with not a celebrity, neither any famous educationist, nor a politician, but for me, it was more than that. It was an interaction wherein I found that she is not an educationist, but is a subject of research papers and that her life itself is a source of learning. I found that she is not a politician, but her fight was such that it became one of the very important political movements. I found that she is not a celebrity but people were fascinated with her, media wanted to click her and the police surrounded her. Afterall, it was the case of World’s longest hunger striker who has been on a hunger-strike since last 14 years in the Manipur state of India with the demand to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA.
AFSPA is a special act that empowers the armed forces of India with an extraordinary power when they operate in a conflict area where AFSPA is imposed. These extraordinary powers include the right to shoot, torture on mere suspicion and arrest without warrant. The forces are also empowered with legal impunity. No offence can be registered without any prior approval of central government. This act has led to extra-judicial killings, rapes, kidnapping, torture and fake encounters by security forces but not a single permission was ever given by the Government of India to prosecute any army personals.
In protest against the havoc created by AFSPA, in 2000, Irom Chanu Sharmila decided to sit on a hunger-strike against AFSPA for a day in the hope that the Government that will listen to her. Today, she is in her 14th year of hunger-strike. Yet, her faith has remained unshaken. She is hopeful that the Government will listen to her. As her supporter, I have not only admired her but have been deeply amazed and inspired by her relentless faith and determination. Even after 14 years of awaiting justice, even with health problems, she remains strong and determined. It has always been a mystery to me and it was this one thing that I took with me when I got the privilege to interact with her.
Throughout the interaction, she had a smiling face. She resonated positivity and calmness. She was soft-spoken but her determination was powerful even in her words.
She had started her talk with the story of King Ashoka who as a warrior had fought many kings but had became tearful and sensitive after the Kalinga war which had claimed thousands of lives. He had become so moved that he had renounced war and had started working for peace. She hoped that the Government may also become like Ashoka. She expressed her hope that the Government will also realize. They will improve themselves. They will understand that war/violence is never the solution.
Since her demand to repeal of AFSPA is shown as confined to Manipur, I inquired about it and she said that AFSPA is an inhuman law and it does not deserve to be in any region. On my question that what will you do if the government will be agreed to lift it from Manipur but not from J&K. She remarked (with smile), “Let them lift from Manipur first and then they must do it from all other states including Jammu and Kashmir”.
On asking that what keeps her going? What has motivated her to have continued their struggle for so long? She smiled and replied, “conscience”. Her conscience doesn’t allow her to see this injustice. She refuted the claim that she is committing suicide. She remarked that she loves life.
I was moved by her simplicity. She is a simple person and in that simplicity, lies her strength. She has been awaiting justice even though she was never a direct victim. She was not a political activist yet she decided to devote her life for justice. She was not doing it for any reason, any political motive but for humanity. She decided to fight because she wanted that everyone should have the right to justice. Everyone should possess the same rights. She is an ordinary citizen, she said, but with a conscience.
Report Of The 14 May 2014 Accident At The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant
By VT Padmanabhan,R. Ramesh, V Pugazhendi,Raminder Kaur, Joseph Makolil
Badaun Case And The Conspiracy Of The Upper-Caste
By Devika Mittal
The tragic badaun case wherein two Dalit girls were gang-raped and their bodies were hanged from a tree has created an uproar in the Indian public sphere. There are widespread protests, regular media reports and debates on this case. It has also found 'concern' internationally. It has managed to touch upon the 'sensibilities' of the upper caste urban Indians but not without their hypocrisy.
While they are 'sympathetic' and consider this as 'tragic', they sniff over the mention of the caste of the victims. Why to mention the caste? How is it relevant at all? I see people even condemning the newspapers for mentioning the caste. "Shame on you for mentioning the caste. Every rape case is equally tragic", "Don't promote caste system!”
I find that while they find it 'tragic', they are not ready to 'accept' it as a case exposing the shameful reality of caste-based discrimination. They demand to see them as "victims", as "human beings". They even argue that a victim is a victim irrespective of her caste, class and they say it with a sense of pride, with a self-declared sense of being ‘fair’ and ‘just’. I find this tragic as it shows that how they are so privileged and so alienated from that reality that for them, mentioning the caste is unnecessary, that caste is a non-issue. They, who do not experience caste system as victims, fail to understand or imagine the caste factor here. They see caste only as "politics", as "a debate about reservation" and nothing else. They are not able to imagine that how there is a strong link between caste and rape. Rape is used as a weapon by upper or dominant castes to assert their identity on the underprivileged castes. They are ignorant that this is among the few cases of caste-based violence that has managed to get the attention of mainstream media and is witnessing such a widespread ‘outrage’. They are ignorant that such cases especially of sexual violence against underprivileged caste women are a common reality of this caste-based society.
If some of them do also 'acknowledge' this caste-based discrimination, they regard it to be a 'tragedy' of rural India. They feel 'sad' and condemn it to be so 'unprogressive', showing a 'bad picture of India'. Caste is a horrible thing, they would argue. We are all equal. This is such a strong conviction that it ends the moment they get to know that their friend is from a "reserved" category. This strong conviction lasts when their parents struggles to find a suitable match for them.
This apathy and ignorance towards caste shows how deeply-rooted the caste system remains. They are unable to see the caste factor not because it is just a political tool but because they are privileged enough to see it as a non-issue. As the dominating section, they are alienated from the lived experience of the underprivileged castes. They cannot see caste because they do not experience it as victims. While there is a section among the upper-caste urbanites who think it is nice to say that caste system is absolutely unprogressive and should be done away with, there are also those who though condemn the discrimination but uphold the caste system. This bunch of the self-declared ‘liberals’ are convincing people to believe that caste system was nothing more than a division of labour based on consent. The problem was when it became arbitrary and binding. They refuse to believe that the caste system in its core is inhuman. We are still a deeply casteist society. What ‘modernity’ seems to have added are these contradictory views and this new level of alienation achieved by the upper-caste urbanites. They not only neglect the caste issue, they are not even able to ‘recognise’ it. But the reality remains intact. By ‘denying’ caste in the Badaun case, they are ‘denying’ the social reality of caste-based violence.
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A Member of Amnesty International