When an eight-year-old child has been violated repeatedly and killed, it shames us all to no end. It diminishes our humanity. It does not matter to which religion or community the victim or perpetrators belong. That the people of Jammu have been discriminated against for decades is no secret. There is justifiable anger with regard to that discrimination. However, the issue that has been taken on hand to express that anger is wrong.
If Kashmir police and politicians are using the rape and gruesome killing of the eight-year-old child to target the Jammu population, then it is deplorable. Then, the demand of the lawyers and law-makers should be to hand over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Arguments like ‘such a cruel thing could not be done inside a temple’ are weak, to say the least. Child abuse have occurred inside temples, churches, and mosques many times in the past. A rapist and murderer of a child will care the least about the sanctity of a place of worship! Schools or madrasas also do not matter to those who abuse children. I have painfully watched for years how children have died mysteriously in Christian institutions with absolute media silence over such events. So, in this case, the only statement that one can make is that one who does not care about the sanctity of a human life cannot care much about the sanctity of a temple and hence, he cannot be called a Hindu or does not deserve to be called a Hindu or even a human being – if the person accused of such a crime turns out to be a Hindu by birth.
All over the world, nomadic communities have always been discriminated against, feared, and abused by communities who live in settled habitats. By and large, traditional Hindus have been free of such biases. Jammu, however, has already turned volatile by the influx and settling of Rohingya Muslims. In 1988 in Kashmir, the Islamist ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus took place as the nation silently watched it. After three decades, with over nine years of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule and more than two decades of rule of Nehruvian polity, Kashmiri Hindus still live as refugees in their own land while in Jammu, Rohingya Muslim settlements come up. This can create a real sense of fear, anger, and frustration in the minds of Jammu Hindus. And it is justifiable.
But what is not justifiable is the way that Jammu lawyers and law-makers are positioning themselves in the rape and murder case of a little girl.
There is no doubt, given the deep mistrust between Jammu and Kashmir, that the case should be handed over to the CBI. But let us not insult our own humanity by blaming the victim or her community as encroachers. Right now, justice for the little girl is the most important thing. That the victim and perpetrators belonged to different religions should not arise as a factor in the demand for CBI to take over the case. If religion and politics are dragged into this case, tomorrow when we demand justice and safety for our children, the criminals will hide in that same space that we now create in our misplaced anger.
I’m worried at several levels. As a father of two girls almost the same age as the victim, I share painfully the agony of her parents. Second, I worry about the safety of my children. If, in case, the accused were falsely accused, then it is also a great injustice for the victim and a shame for Kashmir police. Third, I fear that the vulture-like media and pan-Islamist and breaking-India forces can force this matter to snowball into an embarrassing controversy and also to create a strong sense of injustice and fear psychosis among the Muslims all over India.
However, unlike the false hysteria concocted by the media around lynching, here there is a genuine case for outrage – and a reason for moral outrage. So, the Prime Minister should intervene quickly, personally, and decisively to ensure that the girl gets justice. As author and India Today deputy editor Uday Mahurkar pointed out in a tweet, it is time to enact a stringent law against rapists in India.
I believe in my Prime Minister to help deliver justice to this eight-year-old girl.
Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.
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