Governance Now Masterminds

Kathua horror: Can we deliver justice to Kathua girl?

No lessons learned after the barbaric crime on Nirbhaya in 2012

GN Bureau | April 13, 2018


#women   #rape   #Kuldeep Singh Sengar   #Nirbhaya   #Aasifa   #Unnao rape   #Kathua rape  
Candlelight vigil at India Gate over Kathua, Unnao rape cases (Photo: Twitter/Congress)
Candlelight vigil at India Gate over Kathua, Unnao rape cases (Photo: Twitter/Congress)

The 15-page chargesheet by J&K Police’s crime branch is a chilling revelation of what all is wrong in our society. The eight-year-old girl who was kidnapped, drugged, brutally gang-raped and strangled to death is now being labelled as “the new Nirbhaya”. Instead of categorising her, a question which needs to be asked loudly is, ‘Why do we have another Nirbhaya?’ Was the atrocity and barbarity done to one daughter not enough to shake our conscience? Have we not learned any lessons?

 
The child, yes a little child, was punished for belonging to the nomad Muslim community of Bakarwals in Jammu’s Kathua district. A little far from Kathua, in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh another girl waits for justice after her father died in judicial custody for complaining against a BJP MLA for allegedly raping his daughter. Both the states instead of supporting the victims are shielding the perpetrators of crime.
 
Prime minister Narendra Modi is yet to break his silence and condemn both the incidents in strongest words. It was VK Singh, MoS, external affairs, from the ruling party who first said that "we have failed Asifa as humans" and assured "...she will not be denied justice."
 
But can justice be delivered to the Kathua girl? Here are some reasons which make justice a long, tiring, and elusive:
 
  • Just like in 2012, after the Nirbahaya shame, some arrests will be made in both the cases, and some heads will also roll, but the lengthy and frustrating procedure of delivering justice will again test our patience. The four convicts were sentenced to death on September 13, 2013, by the Delhi high court for Nirbhaya’s rape. Their sentence was upheld by the supreme court in May 2017, yet the culprits are still not hanged. The accused will soon file a review petition in the SC and further delay the justice. 
  • A minor is accused of raping and murdering the Kathua girl. A minor also brutally raped Nirbhaya in 2012. The identity of the minor who raped the Kathua girl will be kept top secret just like the one who raped Nirbhaya. His fate would be exactly the same and would be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act and sent to remand home for some years and then later can move on in his life, like nothing happened. After spending three years in a remand home for raping Nirbhaya, the juvenile was released in December 2015. 
  • A few days after the rage and anger boils down over the Kathua incident, debates will be conducted on life imprisonment vs death penalty. Instead of making the laws more stringent to make our daughters feel safe, there will be numerous debates whether the barbaric crime falls under the “rarest of rare” category and will death penalty be enough a punishment.
  • Just like the Nirbhaya fund, another fund would be set up in the name of Kathua girl. Numerous promises would be made to save the “beti” but nothing will be done on the ground. According to Dr Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research, and chairperson, Women Power Connect, “Nirbhaya fund can be called a political casualty. The funds have been utilised without vision. The schemes have been formulated by the ministry of women and child development, the ministry of home affairs and the ministry of railways, with no proper implementation and vision.” A similar fate awaits the Kathua girl and for India’s daughters.
  • Remember Lok Sabha member Kirron Kher’s advice to a rape victim against boarding the auto that had three male passengers in Chandigarh? Let’s wait for some time and there would be comments as to why the child ventured into the forest alone? Victim blaming and shaming is already in full swing in Unnao. 
  • Soon, we may have another documentary depicting the plight of India’s daughters, which would be banned again for projecting the country in a poor light. The honour and pride of the nation will be protected no matter how helpless and unsafe the women feel.

The earlier version of this article named the the girl in Kathua. Now her identity has been witheld to protect her privacy.

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