Communalisation of Kathua Rape: Why Did the 8-year-old Not Become India's Daughter?
The Kathua rape is a national shame. It shows how powerful people can get together to create divide among the commoners for their own benefit. It shows, yet again, that women are not safe – even if it’s an eight-year-old.
(Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18)
This morning, if you haven’t checked the television channels, you will not know that about 500 kilometres away from the capital city, an eight-year-old was confined to a temple for four days, drugged, repeatedly raped, and finally killed with a stone.
Four years ago, thousands of Indians came out on the streets, raging against the rape of ‘Nirbhaya’; she became ‘India’s daughter’. The country faced the police and their lathi charges, they didn’t run away after the police fired tear gas shells. It was a moment that brought the country together where they put up a unified message - ‘Enough is enough’.
Today, the same streets are at peace. There are no candle light marches, there are no silent protests. For some reason, the eight-year-old did not become ‘India’s daughter’.
The chargesheet that noted the brutality involved in the crime mentioned that one of the accused rapists (eight men have been arrested in connection with the case, including local police officers) was reportedly “invited” from Meerut, hundreds of miles away, to participate and "satisfy his lust".
The 15-page document is a chilling account of what happened when the girl from the Bakherwal community had gone out to graze her family’s horses in the forests. She never returned.
Police say that this was a part of a planned strategy to instill fear and to drive the nomadic tribe out of the region.
The investigation reveals that after the girl was repeatedly raped by powerful people from the region, a police officer also reached the spot and asked the other accused to wait as “he wanted to rape her before she is killed”.
The chargesheet said the girl was once again gang-raped. She was strangled with her own scarf; a stone was then slammed on her head to “make sure that the victim [was] dead”.
You cannot read the chargesheet without feeling a lump in your throat, and without being horrified at the monstrosity of the accused.
And yet, the crime has now turned into a political and religious fight. It is now a battle of Us Vs Them. The suspects are Hindu, and the eight-year-old girl was Muslim. Days after the first news reports came out, our usually angry country still hasn’t shown the outrage that it often does at these times. In fact, what it proved was that we as a nation do not care much about things that don’t happen in our home, or when we feel threatened.
In Jammu, there were protest marches organised, and shops were shut down in solidarity with the suspects. Two ministers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party were also in attendance. They walked through the town, holding the national flag, screaming “Jai Shri Ram” in an attempt to prevent the police from filing the chargesheet.
And despite all of this, there has been a deafening silence from all politicians.
But what is worse is, we as a country have failed that eight-year-old, who probably didn’t even know what religion meant.
On Facebook, we are sharing a picture of the girl calling for justice, and on Twitter, we are furiously asking the politicians to speak up. But, what about us?
The Kathua rape is a national shame. It shows how powerful people can get together to create divide among the commoners for their own benefit. It shows, yet again, that women are not safe – even if it’s an eight-year-old. She didn’t take an empty bus, or watch a movie late at night or wear revealing clothes.
While we came together after the 2012 Delhi gangrape putting the powerful people to task, and questioning our authorities, what’s stopping us now? It’s time to put together our collective consciousness and demand justice, for yet another ‘India’s daughter’.
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