-By Abhigna L Narasaiah & J. Nikhil
Women are strong, Men need to be disciplined.
On September 14th 2020, the gang-rape of a 19-year-old Dalit Girl from Boolgarhi, one of the villages under the Hathra’s district of Uttar Pradesh, was a crime committed by a man who was known to the victim’s family. The crux of the case took a drastic turn when the media was granted access to cover the story. The caste-based atrocity was an inevitable side to the story that garnered attention from the media, political outfits and organizations such as the “Dalit Women Fight”, the single largest Dalit women-led organization who strive to deliver justice to Dalit women who are victims of caste-based cruelty. The severity of the injuries and the degree of torture experienced by the 19-year-old was a horror that India was reliving after 8 years, the gang rape of a Physiotherapy intern in Delhi, who was termed ‘Nirbhaya’, meaning the one who was brave at the face of adversity. The dilemma posed here is, this is not the first case after Nirbhaya and the crime against women and children in India. The data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) corroborates the grim scenario that resides in the country. Rather the ray of hope is eclipsed under communal disputes, corrupt political systems and even at times the utter humiliation that comes along with the revelation of certain acts. The comparison to the Nirbhaya case is an amalgamation of political tiff and media uproar.
Nirbhaya of Hathra’s, Political Strategy or Hierarchy of Cast?
The untimely cremation of the victim’s body during the midnight, lit the fuse. The imposition of Section 144, confining the victim’s family in their house amidst heightened security and restricting entry of political personnel or influential media houses to step in and get a closer look at the ground reality. The U.P government defended the act of the Police cremating the body by claiming to have taken the consent of the family. Rahul Gandhi was stopped at the Delhi-U.P border and detained in Delhi due to section 144. The ‘Nirbhaya of Hathra’s’ narrative trickled down from the vine which the ruling party (BJP), the opposition party and the Indian Media Networks had channeled narratives suiting the interests of each and every individual or institution. While certain MP’s and MLA’s of BJP, like Ranjeet Srivastava vehemently categorized the girl, remarking the alleged nature of relationship between the victim and the accused (Sandeep), maligning the integrity of the victim, certain women organizations, political bodies and local organizations related the incident to the Nirbhaya case. The Draconian administration under Yogi Adityanath has turned a blind-eye on crimes that have been incited based on caste and this is no exception. While that maybe a possibility, it is not the reason to completely rule out hate crime against women based on caste, especially in U.P where 11 women out of 84 rapes that happen in North India are Dalit women (NCRB data). The case should be dealt unbiased to obtain justice. Hunger for Power or Fight for truth, which one will be the Catalyst for Justice?
The Nirbhaya case that shook India, jolted the judiciary and the barbaric laws that prolonged the prosecution for eight long years. The Nirbhaya Act in 2013 was a step forward in dealing with crimes against women, which were previously dealt under neutral laws. The elections, ruling parties, the laws that just provided more time for the criminals to be alive, made the process arduous to sustain and observe for eight years. The U.P government has set up a SIT (Special Investigation Team) to look into the proceedings during the initial days. The Supreme Court has assigned the case to CBI to investigate and granted the Allahabad High Court to monitor their process. The justice is solely based on the UP Govt. The Valmiki-Dalits were 34% of total voters in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, the caste from which the victim belongs to. If the BJP has to retain the vote share, then it has to deliver speedy justice to take stand and portray the image of a government which is not discriminatory, a claim Yogi Adityanath fails to deliver. The Thakurs on the other hand blame the victim’s family. Yogi Adityanath cannot support the claim, being a Thakur himself. If the Govt. does however, turn to be complicit with the upper-caste criminals, future of BJP in Uttar Pradesh is best at bleak. If the narrative is what it is portrayed to be and the bureaucrats are complicit to the law, no signs of evidence tampering is found from the investigations by the SIT and CBI, then justice will prevail, “from political will, for political power, by politics” of politicians.