Selective Silence & Outrage: The Unnao Story

Written by Vidya Bhushan Rawat | Published on: August 2, 2019
The stand taken by the Supreme Court of India on the Unnao case is a slap on the face of the tall claims of law and order in Uttar Pradesh. That all the four cases related to it are now transferred to Delhi and that the accused will face a swift trial --to be concluded within 45 days from yesterday-- reflect how deliberate were Uttar Pradesh government's effort to deny the Victim Survivor justice.

Unnao rape case
 
Can you imagine the horror and terror that this brave girl faced through the henchmen of the MLA Kuldeep Sengar who enjoyed patronage of all the political parties?
 
The issue of women's safety should  be of paramount concern but look around, at the people. The b..... village is sleeping, not reacting, as if nothing happened. Where are the political parties in Uttar Pradesh? Why has the issue not been raised as sharply and powerfully as happened during the Nirbhaya case (2012)?  Can you even imagine how much misery has been brought upon the , this case has brought so much misery for the girl's family? Her father was arrested, tortured and ultimately died in custody. The girl has been blaming herself for his death. Her mother has faced trauma. The girl and her mother were gang raped by the goons of Sanger. Her uncle too was arrested on false charges. And finally, when she did not leave her struggle and continued to fight for "justice", the powerful MLA and henchmen planned a murder of the entire family so that the cases could be closed.
 
How poorly this reflects on our system when a victim nearly dies a case is closed. It is important that these thugs and cheats are boycotted publicly and punished by the courts of law.
 
The BJP moved after the high tone adopted by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and expelled Senger but with a faint heart. Of course, the party, will compensate his wife or brothers with some position  as they did to the politician who abused Ms Mayawati. Then she was rewarded with an elected MLA post. The woman is now a minister. Look at how the BJP leader Jagdambika Pal has defended Sengar by accusing the opposition of plotting the murder of the family of the Unnao survivor but has not uttered a word against the goons of the same fraternity ?
 
As I said before, we have all failed.
 
The Thakur leaders remained mute and in fact protected their own community goon masquerading as leader.  The Thakur community remained under the grip of their male leadership and did not stand up. The 'others' who felt that it is not an important issue since the 'victim' does not hail from a 'marginalised' or 'minority' community. This incident happened during the Kathua case. The 'nation' new about Kathua at the time but not Unnao. I do not say that Kathua incident was not important. I have all support for those brave legal fighters who fought and I can understand the limitations of ours, resources and everything but we do understand also the dilemmas of people. 
 
The Kathua verdict is already out. It was actively followed up and taken up by activists. But unfortunately the Unnao incident was not taken up that seriously resulting in state brutality. The state tried to muzzle her voice. She was desperately going from pillar to post. The case in the CBI court has not yet begun. Why? There was no judge appointed! Her uncle faced false charges while father was arrested, tortured and killed in police custody. In the meanwhile, the girl and her mother were also gang raped. This incident reveals just how powerful these terrorists are.
 
Frankly, in India, incidents become stories when the perpetrators of crime belong to other communities. Have you ever imagined what would have happened if, the criminals had belonged to other community particularly Muslim, in the case of Unnao ? I can bet we would have seen Karni Senas, Ram Senas, Kshatriya Senas, Hindu Yova Vahinis, Bajrangis and what not in the street and country would have been in the boil and prime time fake warriors would have been debating about this all the time instigating people to boycott or even take revenge.
 
But this is not the case with the Thakurs alone. We have seen this in all the communities including Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims too where certain matters are treated 'internal' and people do not speak up. Women's issues are basically treated internally and become volatile only when the aggressor belong to another community. 
 
A crime is a crime is a crime and we need to stand up and speak against. This country is losing its soul, its conscience. My worry does not merely concern the constitutional court's supremacy. Hopefully, both the girl and her lawyer will survive.
 
The real concern is selective anger and selective silence. The principles of 'convenience' need to be given a go by if we want to survive as a democratic nation which can truly be called civilised. 
 
I hope the brave girl of Unnao will survive and continue to speak up. Her story can only inspire many others who are forced to remain silent. I can only salute to this girl for her indomitable spirit, her courage in the face of adversity. She has lost so many family members. This is an insurmountable loss. However her strength is an abiding inspiration. Exemplary punishment to the perpetrators is one non-negotiable. The system needs to do more. The culture of impunity needs to be ruptured once and for all.
 
Will the Supreme court monitoring of this case, send the much-needed message to the all powerful who think they are above the law?
 
Let us see how our political parties take up this issue and ensure that no such leader is given any space in their parties. Will they rise up and make an operation clean up in their respective parties ? Will our society stand up when the matter comes from the communities. Will communities stand up and boycott who are found of such criminal acts.
 
The Supreme Court guided court verdict in this case will come soon and hopefully, within months we will have some semblance of justice. The larger question is for us all of us as a society ? Will the society remain mute to 'internal' violent crimes, human rights violations and only take to streets when crimes are committed by 'others'?

This is the biggest challenge. Treat crime as a crime whoever does it is a criminal. Ofcourse everybody has a right to have a fair trial. We hope the terror regimes which have many enclaves like this in many places of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other parts of India will come to an end if there are clear cut guidelines. And hopefully, one day, these people will also called 'terrorist' by the government. Will they ? Not at all because, the action against Sengar has only happened after the outburst of the Supreme Court. 
 
If the Supreme Court can widen and monitor this case regularly and give an ambiguous order regarding the behavior of the police officer or investigating agencies, it will go in a long long way. Nothing substantial happened after Nribhaya case but now time has come when we all have to sit and ponder over as why we are unable to grow and become a civilised society. Dont leave everything for politicians and government to 'think' as larger ownership in this case is of the society which failed to rise up.