In spite of putting in place strong laws with severe punishment for sexual crimes against women there seems to be no let-up in the atrocities on women in India. The latest incident is the stalking of Varnika Kundu, a twenty three year old law student in Chandigarh by Vikas Barala, the son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala and his friend, Ashish. The alertness and courage of Varnika averted another tragedy similar to that of Nirbhaya. She deserves appreciation and applause for her courage to stand up to goons from influential families.
Varnika was driving alone a car in Chandigarh on 4th August at 12 O’clock in the night on her way home. Two young men stalked her for about six kilometers. She drove the vehicle with extraordinary courage, not giving chance to the stalkers to attack her and informed the police. Chandigarh police immediately responded to the frantic SOS calls of Ms. Kundu and arrested the two young men. But when the police came to know that Vikas was the son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barale, Vikas and Ashish were let off within hours of their arrest and they were only charged with bailable sections. If they were charged with kidnapping they would not have got bail.
The Hindustan Times reported that even as Varnika and her father arrived at the sector 26 police station around 2 am to file a complaint, “BJP leaders from Haryana started coming to the station, sources said. Desperate calls to various senior police officials with ‘Dekh lo’ (‘please see’) requests started forcing many of the officers to either put their phones on silent mode or switch them off… Before the accused duo got bail, many Haryana leaders were there at the police station throughout Saturday.” Attempts were done by the BJP leaders to depict Varnika a woman of bad character. The statement of BJP vice-president of Haryana vindicates the mindset of the BJP leadership regarding the tragic incident. He said, “Women should not go out in the midnight. The time and atmosphere are not at all good. We have to take care of our own safety”.
Sensing that she is fighting against a politically influential family, Varnika appealed to the public through her Facebook post. She wrote on her Facebook the story in detail as it happened. She concluded her Facebook post as follows. “If this is what women deal with in one of the safer cities in the country, where are we going? I find it shocking that in a place with camera at every light and cops every 200 meters, these boys thought they could either get into my car or take me into theirs, just because they are from influential background. I am lucky, it seems, not to be the daughter of a common man, because what chance would they have against such VIPs? I am also lucky, because I am not lying raped and murdered in a ditch somewhere. If this can happen in Chandigarh, it can happen anywhere”.
After Ms Kundu's Facebook post went viral and led to massive public outrage, the spotlight was on the police, which was accused of trying to dilute the case under pressure from the state's ruling BJP. Varnika’s father, Virender Singh Kundu, an IAS officer in Haryana, also resorted to the social media for public support to her daughter. On August 6, he described the circumstances of the crime in a Facebook post. He concluded his Facebook post as follows. “Our clear intention is to bring the culprits to book. We do not intend to harm the families or relatives. However, we know it’s not going to be an easy struggle. The possibility of harassment and witch-hunting, threats and even physical harm is undeniable, even though unlikely. Influential families can sometimes take desperate measures to discredit or disable the complainants. Sane friends may advise us against our course of action. We may be foolhardy.
However, I know that the trauma and hurt my daughter has undergone cannot be undone. If we do not persist in trying to bring the guilty to justice, more and more daughters will suffer this hurt. Maybe some may not be as lucky as Varnika. Someone has to stand up. We are standing so long as we can.”
Because of the public outrage the Haryana police was forced to arrest Vikas and Ashish on August 9, after being charged with trying to kidnap a woman they had stalked and followed on the streets of Chandigarh a week back.
The BJP has always claimed that it is a party with difference, placing itself on a high moral pedestal. The activists of the Sangh Parivar used to hunt boys and girls on the Valentine’s Day if they sat together in a place and exchanged pleasantries. Even brother and sister were not spared by the goons. They used to do moral policing, dictating what women have to wear and how to behave in public.
After the Chandigarh incident, involving the son of the BJP chief no one from the BJP or from the Sangh Parivar condemned the incident. If the culprit were the son of a politician belonging to the opposition parties the social media warriors of the Sangh Parivar would have flooded the whole atmosphere with the hate-filled messages. The hypocrisy of the moral policing by the Sangh Parivar outfits is evident from its silence on the Chandigarh incident.
If a cow dies even in an accident the cow vigilantes create havoc and indulge in violence. When 30 children died in BRD Government Medical College in Gorakhpur, the parliamentary constituency of UP CM, Yogi Adityanath, on August 10 and 11 due to the stopping of supply of oxygen, there was no protest from the Sangh Parivar members. Why did the Sangh Parivar outfits not protest against a human tragedy caused by human negligence? The Hindu newspaper reported on August 13 that 60 children died in the pediatric section from August 7 to 11, of which 30 died on 10 and 11 alone. The Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi termed the incident a ‘massacre’ and not a human tragedy. At the same time, the CM and the state health minister have denied that children died due to cutting of supply of oxygen. This is another example of hypocrisy.
On August 12, the newspapers reported that a BJP MLA from Gujarat was convicted for life imprisonment by the Gujarat High Court. Jairaj Singh Jadeja, BJP MLA, was found guilty of killing Neelesh Rayani of Rajkot in a land dispute case. Criminals and deviants are found in all communities. But it has been a strategy of the Sangh Parivar to depict the Muslims as terrorists and Christians as a community involved in conversion because of the deviant behavior of some individuals. Is this not hypocrisy?
When the former Vice-President, Hamid Ansari mentioned in an interview that the Muslims in India feel insecure he was vehemently criticized by the BJP and VHP spokespersons. Hamid Ansari had made an observation based on various incidents that have taken place after the BJP came to power at the centre and in many states of India. Almost all victims of the lynching by the cow vigilantes are Muslims. The livelihood of large number of Muslims is snatched away by the laws restricting the sale of animals for slaughter. The Sangh Parivar members, including the members of parliament and ministers, often spit the venom of hatred against the Muslims. It is quite natural for the Muslims to feel insecure in such an atmosphere and Hamid Anasari voiced a concern of the Muslims in India. The BJP and the governments at the centre in the states should have taken initiative to remove the causes that create feeling of insecurity in the minds of the Muslims instead of attacking a person who had expressed a genuine concern of his community. The criticism of Ansari by the Sangh Parivar is unwarranted; it is nothing but hypocrisy.
The Hindutva ideology of the Sangh Parivar is based on hatred against Muslims, Christians and Communists. Many policies adopted by the BJP governments at the centre and the states are in tune with this ideology. Whipping up the religious sentiments of the Hindus on the sensitive issue of cow through various policy decisions and legislations by the BJP governments are more motivated by the hatred against Muslims than the protection of cows. If the Sangh Parivar outfits are so concerned about the welfare of the cows they would have taken care of thousands cows wandering in the streets of the towns and cities of India instead of attacking and killing the innocent Muslims. When someone exposes or protests against the fascist agenda of the Sangh Parivar he/she is attacked through the print, electronic and social media. Is this not hypocrisy?
A strange phenomenon observed in India is that along with ascendance of religiosity in all religions, crimes also have increased in the society. It clearly indicates that religious fervour is not leading to growth in spirituality, characterized by the practice of core ethical and human values. Politicization and commercialization of religion appear to be an important reason for the increase in crimes. Often religious sentiments are the causes for violence and killing. Very often people are drugged with religiosity that kills creativity, rationality and scientific temper. Along with putting in place an effective mechanism to punish those who indulge in crimes there is also an urgent need for liberating religions from politicization and commercialization. Only then the people of India, especially women, will enjoy freedom and security.
email@example.com(Published on 21st August 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 34)