The week before last the women in the country had to once again face how unsafe things are for them in the most nightmarish way possible. A young veterinary doctor in Hyderabad was stranded on the highway because of a punctured tyre on her scooter. She was abducted, raped and killed by four men who then set her body on fire in order to destroy the evidence. As usual when something horrific like this happens there is public outrage, the news channels indulge in short lived hysteria and the politicians jump in with their two bits. More often than not it’s the wrong two bits where they not only put their foot in their mouths but also swallow it whole.
It is surely a sign of the times that lawmakers instead of worrying about the implementation of the laws, stand up in parliament and call for public lynching, in total disregard of the Constitution, the justice delivery system and the oath that they have taken; all to win brownie points with the public which is baying for blood. Forget about ensuring law enforcement or providing security for women, since these things are all too difficult for our politicians to handle and would require actual work, they would rather make stupid statements to garner maximum attention. Not that we can expect any hard work, effort or thought processes from people who win elections by handing out money and then making more money to make up for it through their years in office.
Then there are the great and wonderful police who caught the Hyderabad perpetrators pretty much immediately but then couldn’t handcuff or anklecuff them and couldn’t even secure their own weapons. This resulted in the four accused succeeding in wresting guns from the cops during the crime scene recreation and were then shot dead by the weapons they had not managed to grab hold of. The country along with most politicians jumped to applaud the police and celebrate a “quick delivery of justice”. It hardly seems to matter that the police are not meant to be the justice delivering authority. This definitely works for the cops who have gotten rid of a political hot potato and copped out of having to carry out a detailed investigation or having to prove guilt in a court of law. Since the police involved are now being lauded as heroes, no one is asking how they show no shame in having allowed their weapons to be taken from them by men under custody.
Is this the new way forward? And will this method of justice delivery be applied even to politicians and their ilk who have also been accused of similar crimes? Shouldn’t the extra judicial methodology be equal for all?
The topping on this mess of a sordid tale is an advisory of dos and don’ts issued by the Hyderabad police to women. It would be pathetically patriarchal if it wasn’t so laughable. The sad part is that the police seem to think that all the points in the advisory like “stay away from isolated areas” have never ever occurred to women at all. What about ensuring isolated areas are safe for women instead of just falling short of telling women to observe purdah and stay at home?
The courts and lawyers are not devoid of blame either. They show incredible alacrity and willingness, at all times of day and night, to hear urgently the political, big ticket cases, but cannot find the inclination to dispose of cases where some girl or woman has been brutally raped and killed. Such cases are usually relegated to the back of the list after admission in appeal. Since the families of these victims do not have the clout to push for urgent hearings, the cases lie forgotten, gathering the dust of oblivion. They are dusted off and talked about for a few days only when another shocking incident happens and then consigned back to the list of forgotten cases. If anything, the incident in Hyderabad has really proved that delaying justice will only allow it to be hijacked since the public’s patience is wearing very thin. In this age of instant everything, justice delivery cannot afford to take ten years.
Hardly surprising that bananas are one of the most popular fruits of the Indian Republic, since everything seems to be heading that way.