One cannot think of a more gruesome crime than the rape and murder of a minor girl. When the eight-year-old girl from the nomadic tribe of Bakherwal at Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir fell prey to the most brutal designs of gang-rapists and murderers, it spelt a new low in both crime and communalism. In yet another traumatic incident, a girl in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh was raped allegedly by none else but the law-maker of the area. And the father of the victim was tortured to death with the connivance of the police. These two incidents, along with similar ones in other places, shame the nation as reactions from across the globe indicate.
Besides the inhumaneness of the crime, the Kathua incident exposes an emerging diabolic trend in wiping out minority community from the country. Apart from the vicious comments of BJP and other Sangh Parivar leaders, the charge-sheet in the case states that the accused committed the heinous act to drive away the Muslim tribe, which the girl belonged to, from the area dominated by the majority community. It is the most appalling act of using rape as a weapon to get rid of a community. This message has been reinforced by the protests organized by an outfit, the Hindu Ekta Manch, in support of the accused. By holding Tricolour in hand, the protesters tried to give a touch of nationalism to an anti-national and anti-people protest. Capping it all, the protesters included Ministers in the State government who had taken an oath to protect the Constitution and what it stands for.
It will be naïve to see these incidents in isolation. A few months back, Hindutva groups had taken out a tableau in honour of a man accused of killing a Muslim labourer in Rajasthan. What is even worse is the support of the BJP and other Hindutva leaders to such cruelest of cruelties perpetrated on minority communities to keep them as second-class citizens, or to get them out of the country.
In the case of Unnao rape, a BJP MLA himself is the accused, but he continues to be ensconced in the party despite being arrested and put behind bars. It is the same party which screamed for the blood of Mani Shankar Aiyar of the Congress for calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘neeche aadmi’ (low-minded). The Congress lost no time in suspending him from the party. In contrast, the rape-accused MLA and the Ministers who supported Kathua rape accused are shielded by the party. What more, Mr Modi, after a long silence, opened his mouth just to state that rape is rape and it should not be politicised. It is contrary to what he said in 2013 when he exhorted people not to forget Nirbhaya while casting their votes.
It is obnoxious that sants and swamis too come out in support of the rape accused and blame the victim for ‘inviting’ the crime. A case in point is Sakshi Maharaj, the BJP MP from Unnao, who had come out openly in support of godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim who was convicted of rape. Such support gives an aura of religious sanctity to rapacious acts. Supporting rape and rapists is no less than the crime itself. Yet that is the tragedy of India and its politics.(Published on 23th April 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 17)