The news was shocking! 18 days after a girl was mercilessly gang-raped in the heart of the national capital, her friend decided to share the ordeal with Zee News. When the 28-year-old began narrating the details of the fateful night of December 16 on the channel, I wrote a few of his statements in Hindi and posted them on Twitter. Within 10-15 minutes, they were re-tweeted several times by people who were keen to know what had happened that night. A few of them replied back asking for further updates which is when I decided to tweet major parts of the interview of Delhi Braveheart’s friend.
The interview went on for almost an hour and throughout that period, Indians from across the world expressed shock towards the incident and hailed the 28-year-old software professional. The victim’s friend had been very brave. He had the guts to come on national television and share the incident with his fellow countrymen.
The entire nation went into a state of shock as he narrated what had happened on that fateful night with misty eyes. He recounted how he was dumped with his friend on the road - wounded, without clothes and helpless on a chilly winter night. When he pleaded for help, it became a ‘tamasha’ for the passersby. The inefficient police, like always, arrived when most of the damage had been done, only to cause further delay.
We have seen in films and have heard a million times that the police arrived after climax was over and critical moments well past. Delhi Police looked somewhat like its celluloid avatar. Even on December 16, when they rea
ched the spot where the two victims were lying in a dreadful state, they wasted ample time in deciding under which police station`s jurisdiction the case fell even as the two innocent souls battled for their lives.
The victim’s friend also bemoaned the public apathy shown by those who passed by. “Several auto rickshaws, cars and bikes slowed down but no one stopped for about 25 minutes,” he said. When asked why people didn’t offer help, the victim’s friend mentioned a very valid point - “They would be scared that by offering help, they would become a witness of the case and then the police will harass them.” I am sure there were people who wanted to help, but didn’t, because of the same reason. But what was even more shameful is the fact that none of the passersby could share a piece of cloth with the two of them who badly needed it.
The police’s attitude was normal, but the terrible incident once again reminded us of the kind of insensitive human beings we have become over the years. It could possibly also be because of the sense of fear we all witness in the national capital. Nothing seems trustworthy in the fake capital of India.
The role of the police though cannot be ignored. They are on duty to make the citizens feel comfortable, but the reality is just the opposite. Whenever we come across a policeman, all that comes to our minds is bribe, something fishy and a sense of fear. Forget rape, a common man is reluctant to file an FIR regarding even a robbery because they know that the end result would be zero. With such a mindset, a rape victim would do anything but approach a policeman with his grievances.
The public-police relationship has to be improved. Sensitized policing is the need of the hour. Several cases aren’t even reported to the police as the women fear the treatment they might be meted out in the police stations. The Delhi government needs to take lessons from southern India, where there are separate police stations where they have set up an all woman police team to deal with cases of crime against women.
While the incident saw an outbreak of protests and massive support from all across India, people like Asaram Bapu and Mohan Bhagwat cashed on the opportunity to bask in the limelight by coming up with their own bizarre remarks about the incident. While Asaram’s ‘Bhaiya theory’ sounded insane, Bhagwat’s remark on a man-woman relationship was equally derogatory. It was difficult to say whether the mercury in the country was stooping lower or these men were.
It has been a month since the heinous crime took place. The incident was widely covered by the international media. But the irony is that, while countries like Singapore, Malaysia and others have further amended their rape laws with some considering the option of chemical castration, our government is still in a state of deep slumber, even though they have made attempts to announce a slew of measures to make the women safer. But the need of hour is a stringent rape law. Cases of several rapes, gang-rapes have occurred since then. Hopefully, Justice JS Verma panel can come up with suggestions for new law that will deter future rapists in the country. Also, we the people need to be more humanitarian in our approach when we come across such cases.
Before her original name was made public, the society hailed her with the names of Damini, Nirbhaya, Braveheart and so on. However, her name isn’t important. The 23-year-old’s case has awakened the public consciousness to some extent. Since December 16, the society has been thinking of what we can do as individuals to prevent such cases, before it happens to a member of our own family. We will forever remain indebted to the para-medical student for whatever changes she has, and will bring for the safety of women in India. May her soul rest in peace.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)