Delhi gang-rape: Where was the ‘Indian’?

If you find a girl lying injured and naked in the middle of the road, what will your immediate reaction be? The least one can do is to cover the person with any cloth at hand. But it came as a shocking and heartrending surprise when the Delhi gang-rape victim’s friend revealed in an interview that “nobody gave us clothes or called an ambulance”.

Isn’t it agonising? We are the first ones who yell that incidents like rape happen because girls wear provocative clothes; if this is so, where were these so called ‘custodians’ of ‘sabhaya samaj’ in our country when that girl was lying on the road asking for help and her modesty was being ripped apart? Isn’t it a shame, a big shame on our part that a nation that worships its women behaved in such a numbing manner on the fateful night of December 16!

The horrendous part is not yet over. The rape victim’s friend also revealed that when they “tried to stop passersby. Several auto rickshaws, cars and bikes slowed down but none stopped for about 20 to 25 minutes”.

We are busy blaming the system, the administration and the government, but have we blamed ourselves? Aren’t we too, to a large extent, responsible for ruthless incidents like rape cases, sexual harassment and eve teasing? I mean if any of those ‘mute’ spectators would have taken the pain to help the victims till the time police arrived, who knows - the victim might have survived? How can we show such apathy towards our fellow countrymen? We proudly pledge that “All Indians are my brothers and sisters”; where was that Indian missing on that fateful night?

From the next day after the incident happened, public protests took place in New Delhi at India Gate and Raisina Hill. The whole world saw the public anger on the incident. We were shouting, screaming for our rights, for the wrong that was done, for the loss. But did we realise that somewhere we were too late? Too late to realise that Delhi’s braveheart died not just because of the failure of the system and the accused, but also because of the failure of normal humans to act as humans?

My question is – are we afraid? Afraid of what? Of acting responsibly?

Let’s face it. An average Indian faces incidents like eve-teasing almost every day in the local buses or trains that we travel in or on the road when an unwanted paw rubs your shoulders and your eyes seek help from others, but no one utters a word not because they can’t; but because they just don’t bother to. Who is to be blamed in such a case? How can we overcome our indifference? Why can’t we stop these jerks right there? No, we don’t do it and wait for incidents like these to happen; and finally, one day, vent out our anger. It is our ‘shameless silence’ that has given these criminals a free run.

But I feel, my dear fellow Indians, we can’t just keep blaming the system each time. Of course it too is responsible for the lapse, but it is our moral responsibility too to help each other in times of need. To speak up, to stop being indifferent, to stand up and condemn the wrong. I seriously feel that just lighting candles or protesting will not help unless we all look into our hearts and awaken our souls, so that we can ACT and REACT when it matters the most.