“India outcries for #JusticeForAsifa”, “Asifa pulls India together to seek justice”, “Civil society outraged, demands justice for Kathua, Unnao cases” – I get mixed feelings after reading these headlines. Happy, because at least we have decided to stand up for the victims and not against the perpetrators. Sad, very sad, because it gives out a strong déjà vu of all the protests, outcries and demands for justice we make – every single time and it gets brushed off until next atrocity. It must be stopped, not just protested against.
From V K Singh to Rahul Gandhi, from Dia Mirza to Sania Mirza, from local to national news media, from you to me – everyone is on the same page, asking for justice for the eight year old rape victim from Kathua in Kashmir and the teen rape victim from Unnao in UP, finally. Finally. Don’t get this wrong, it is good. After some groups from among our society – in fact lawyers, who are supposed to fight for justice – tried to intervene and obstruct justice and shift the attention from the crime and its enormity to low politics in Kashmir. In a parallel process play out, the victim of Unnao case was victimised even more when the accused perpetrators seek protection by impugning the credibility of the process. It all happens when lawmakers become lawbreakers. But yes, India is protesting on the streets finally. There is an outcry across the social media. The tag #JusticeForAsifa is now “trending”. Finally.
How does one even begin to get the grip of the story? The crime itself is so heinous, so brutalised and unimaginably horrific. But what happened after the crime was conducted in Kathua and in Unnao has been so despicable that it can be said, without exaggeration, that India’s moral compass has been completely obliterated, carpet-bombed out of existence by the very custodians of law, morality and virtue who give daily sermons on national pride. The political, cultural, communal or whatsoever differences among us have reached to such a pass, that the death of a child is, with glee, used as a pretext for exacerbating divisions for cheap political benefits.
For a moment, put aside all the communalism and think what the reactions to this crime say about us? I mean, just politicians cannot always be blamed for the crimes committed. Sure they are responsible for setting a moral tone when any crime is committed. They are expected to understand the distinct between right and wrong – and reassure a liveable society, if not the most just one. But, it is not just them who are at the blame. We voted them, we made them our leaders – whosoever they are. And this isn’t even the saddest part. The saddest part is that this is not the first time such a dark act has occurred in India, this is not the first time I am ranting here like this, this, by no means is the first time we are protesting for “justice”.
What will happen is – these two cases has already gained momentum, the processing of FIRs filed and so forth, will once again give us the sense of normality and closure to the case, just like it has help us move past every such crime that has occurred. The Shopian case, Geeta Chopra case, Jalgoan case, Bhanwari Devi case, Imrana case, Nirbhaya case.. horrendously enough, this is an endless list – only to add more. We have moved past all these, we will move past the current once and we will keep repeating that. The sense of revulsion that is so overpowering at this moment will quickly dissipate till the next atrocity. That is the saddest part. It is an evil that, whether we like it or not, we have authorised and let pass. It must not be allowed to be brushed off easily, not unless we can say with confidence that the Kathua case and Unnao case will morally haunt us for a long time to come. Not unless we don’t need to protest for justice ever again. That is the stand India needs to take.