Our collective conscience is dead as a nation. There was once an India, a land lauded for being a beacon of democracy where the rule of the law and freedom of expression reigned supreme. The female form of Goddesses is worshipped in temples. The girl child is revered as Kanya, where prayers are offering in honoring her for being close to Goddesses. Temples are sacred.
We woke up to the brutal murder of little Ashifa, a tribal girl ruthlessly gang-raped and murdered where not a single voice rose when the gruesome crime was committed. We have mutilated the soul of a rosy little girl who must have seen in grown-up men, father figures, and brothers, a protector who would shield her from evil. A child sees the goodness in people. An 8-year-old knows nothing about physical violence, evil ways of this world and perhaps was alien to twinkling stars in the sky, expensive frocks city kids wear, toys, race, and her body. It was not her age. Perhaps, the poverty or simplicity of leaving a peasantry life didn’t allow her to dream in the small town of Kathua. She had her horses for company. I try hard to think about the sheepish smile on her face, trotting with her friends the animals and running to her ammi for food. At this age, little Ashifa was unaware of the challenges faced by her community or what it means to be a Muslim, rich or poor, prejudices or hatred.
We have bruised every child in this nation and in the vast sea of humanity. I dread that no child will ever trust the adults that we are and it’s horrendous to see half of the world on Twitter justifying this heinous crime or come up with their whataboutery. Breaking the trust of a young child is the worst of crime that we could ever imagine and that too in the name of Lord Ram. What do we see? A group of hyper-nationalists lawyers shouting Jai Shri Ram, politicians of the ruling party and the Bar Council in J & K indulging in mudslinging to side with the rapists. What are we becoming as a nation? The law is being violated. It’s not a question of Congress or BJP. The Congress Party hasn’t done better in the recent past nor condemned the two rapes in Kathua and UP immediately when it came in the public domain. The guilty silence of Congress leaders playing politics and soft Hindutva led to Rahul Gandhi issuing a statement, buckling under popular pressure or some of their members siding with fringe Hindu extremist group in the attempt to protect the rapists was an eyesore.
Better not speak about BJP, a party famous for using muscle power with their RSS friends to come up with insensitive remarks on the child growing to become a terrorist or a banker under the extremist Hindu ideology celebrating the death before he was fired. Our own Prime Minister who never misses an opportunity to thump his chest on clicking a selfie with daughter or the beti bachao campaign went into silent mode. It’s only very late that he made a statement condemning the rape but cut a sorry figure. Following his landslide victory, the first time I saw Narendra Modi emasculated and unconvincing for the guilt was wearing thin on him. The Unnao rape case in the land of Ajay Bisht-Yes I call him that. He is no yogi and time not to make Mahatmas or Yogis out of tainted politicians. Cases were withdrawn against one of his minister on the ground of alleged rape or the time taken to arrest Kuldip Sengar, the BJP MP pushes us to ask several questions. Why so much time was taken? This man should have been dragged and handcuffed at the first instance. The biggest tragedy is the father of Unnao being tied, beaten to death and humiliated to death in a police station. Is this what the people have asked?!
Oh! The silence of BJP women ministers cushioned in their ivory towers, right from Sushma Swaraj to Smriti Irani is telling with Meenakshi Lekhi, the BJP spokesperson who went on an insensitive rant questioning protests and playing the communal case referring to several other rape cases. Madam! A rape is a rape. Certainly, not sane voices are condoning rape happening in every nook-and-corner of India except your blind supporters wearing the Hindutva blinkers and little Ashifa and Unnao belong to the obscure places in the country which don’t make headline news.
The bigger question that we should ask ourselves: What happens after the candle vigilantes to protest rape and should every crime taking place whittle down to the urban landscape? The class divide can be and is evident. Media has a huge part to play in the way coverage is given to crime against women or young children. Why should it make us fume three months after the child was brutally murdered? Just because it doesn’t fit with the high-class narrative. Some media channels have much to answer and they got no right to pass the buck where we have seen them preaching hatred openly against a particular community. From every Muslim is a terrorist to label minorities enemies of the state, the rabble-rousers are making the country sit on a ticking bomb which is bound to explode anytime. Sad that many of us didn’t see it coming and the hatred spread at decibel volume at prime time was designed to brainwash the minds of people who have just one opium, religion or for that matter, saffronization of the Indian state. Tragic that an innocent child had to pay a heavy price. There are many children like her, unnamed and voices stifled in dark alleys where the latest is the gruesome rape in Gujarat. Yes, right Gujarat!
The right-wing trolls in the garb of hate activism on social media channels have spewed venoms in celebrating the rape of an innocent child. The vilest crime ever committed by scum bags sinking lower and lower. As far as critics saying that the whole issue is being politicized or being made on religious ground, it has been in the first instance when politicians took part in a rally to protect the perpetrators of the crime. First, the entire rape was planned in Kathua since the girl’s family belonged to the poor tribal Muslim family, Bakerwal whom the proponents of Hindutva agenda wanted to displace. Second, the soul of a child was violated making her family walking 8 km from her homeland to be cremated which is the extreme of torture and harassment. Would you still argue that there is no communalization of the crime? How much hate can be spilled that we cannot spare an innocent life? Yes! She was murdered for being a Muslim. Period.
As far as asking, why Ashifa and not someone else? The child has become a symbol for entire India and rape victims in the country or the Hindu Talibanisation core agenda in say no to the usurpation of the constitution. I am a Hindu and not in my name, haters should commit a crime on defenseless children just by chanting the name of Lord Rama or yelling Bharat Mata ki Jai. It’s the biggest insult ever done to the Indian tricolor and religions. The sanctity of the temple has been violated. An irony, the temple’s name is Devi Sthan and we have killed the Devi.
Let’s not call Ashifa, ‘daughter of India’. We are doing a disservice to this tender soul killed in the flower bud. The staunchest defenders of the criminals who don’t deserve to live or voices went silent are as guilty as the rapists. Is this the new India with the ruling power’s desperate attempts to do cover up and protect criminals? Is this the change that people asked for in 2014? There is no point of clicking selfie with a daughter or the smug Beti Bachao campaign. Make no illusion, it’s Beti Uthao.