It was 3 am in the morning when Hathras Nirbhaya breathed her last, I presume, she must have cursed herself at least once for being a woman and for venturing out of her home with her brother and mother wen to gather fodder for their cattle. Just because she was a 19-year-old girl, belonging to the Dalit Samaj, she could be violated with impunity, thrashed, strangulated, her backbone broken, her tongue slashed off – yes, all because she was a girl and she was a Dalit.
The heinous crime was committed on 14th Sept, yet the FIR for gang rape was registered about a week later. Initially it was considered to be a case of family dispute – “family dispute”, when a 19-year-old had been brutally raped and had herself gone to the police station with her family to register the FIR. Imagine what the teenager would have gone through, all this while with her physical condition and her mental agony.
In between her shifting from one hospital to another, given her near death medical condition, Hathras Nirbhya didn’t become national headlines, as news outlets were too busy covering whatsapp chats of alleged drug dealings by a few famed B’town actresses.
How could Hathras Nirbhaya, ever match up with the famed female leads of silver screen – after all she was a village girl.
Some regional newspaper did carry her plight in single column news reports. But its her death in Safdarjang Hospital which has finally caught the media attention – for a while at least.
By 7 pm, I am sure the nation would want to know only and only about Sushant Singh Rajput's alleged death mystery or the alleged insolvent arguments put forth by Rhea Charaborty's lawyer's in Mumbai High Court.
Media apathy apart, please see the administrative insensitiveness. District Magistrate of Hathras has tweeted that district administration has provided assistance of Rs. 10 Lakhs to the family of victim as compensation for what has happened to the 19-year-old. Ten lakh rupees, for being gang raped by 4 men, for her broken back as she resisted rape, her sliced tongue as she shouted to prevent rape.
Can any form of compensation, even compensate for the loss Hathras Nirbahya suffered while she was alive for the past 15 days. Can a family be compensated by blood money for loosing their daughter, because a few high caste men couldn't hold on to their animal lust.
To camouflage his incompetence, the district magistrate of Hathras further goes on to claim that the matter would be tried in fast track court and justice would be served.
Does the DM of Hathras, realise what he is offering is not a favour, by a duly established process of law. Now, lets look at the following NCRB ( National Crime Records Bureau) data. Since 2016 till 2020, Uttar Pradesh has seen an average increase of 20 per cent in gang rapes.
More than 5,000 cases of rapes have been registered between 2019 - 2020. Over 50,000 cases of atrocities have been registered in UP alone in the list year. And the point to be noted is that since Akhilesh Yadav’s government to the present Yogi Adityanath's government in UP, Uttar Pradesh has the dubious distinction of being the second highest state in terms of recorded violence against women in the country.
This brings us to the much touted slogan of the central and state government - "Beti Bachawo, Beti Padhawo". Seriously, do the central government and state government really believe in what they propagate. Women and girls are molested, abused, raped, burnt alive with impunity in this country and this is treated as a social evil.
Can you, Beat that. When caste inequities and religious persecution present a deadly cocktail of violence against women as a outlet, how can India as a country and society ever presume that women and girls are safe in this country.
In 2012 December when Delhi was reeling with protests, the belief was, change is about to take place. But 8 years down the line, Nirbhaya funds are left un-utilized by all states including Uttar Pradesh. The Nirbhaya legislation hardly finds its actual use as the accused usually are let off, due to corrupt and devious policing.
The Nirbhya movement today lies in dumps as it finds no political resonance for votes. Unless, we as a society rise up against the politico-social vested interest groups, I can say with conviction - thousands and thousands of Nirbhaya would die, but we - we the people of India would be cushioned in our deep slumber.
(Writer of the article, Ajay Kumar, is Consulting Editor, India TV)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The opinions do not reflect the views of India TV )