How many stories of injustice have we heard in 2010? Yes, it was a year of scandals and controversies… so we all do remember the CWG scam (which got a really delayed reaction), the 2G scam, the war widows housing scam, the IPL controversy and the Radia drama (funny how we have neat names for each one of these things).
But what we perhaps forgot was those spots where we didn’t get justice despite years of fighting.
Aarushi and Ruchika are the two names that spring to mind… perhaps because of the movie about Jessica Lal, whose murder – despite being an open-and-shut case took nearly a decade to be brought to justice.
In a democratic country, we expect our basic rights to be protected. But rarely does that happen. There are various lines of bureaucracy to tug and fight, the red tape, the politicians and all that drama. The protectors become the abusers.
Why? The value of a life is incredibly small in India. People die on sidewalks everyday. People are run over on sidewalks and cases are hushed up. We all are aware of it. We have lived with it. And being model citizens of the country, we have even offered to pay off for an accident, instead of formally filing a complaint and taking the insurance way.
“It’ll take a long time to sort it out officially, yaar,” is the common consensus.
It is easy to fix the damage to a car. But to a life? I have no idea what happened to Salman Khan’s case where he supposedly ran over a few people sleeping on the pavements while he was drunk. And then the case where he shot a black buck, violating Wildlife Protection Laws.
Ruchika – she was molested as a 14-year old. The case should’ve been solved with a few months, particularly when the evidence was so blatant. But it took another decade for the culprit – a cop in this case – to be finally convicted.
Aarushi – yet another young girl murdered and the CBI messed it up so badly that we wonder if justice will ever be done.
And then the ‘honor killing’ – there is an oxymoron, if ever! The first case I remember reading about was a couple found dead in a car… the man was married or the woman was the daughter of a bigwig in Punjab. Swept under the carpet.
And these are cases we hear about because of the high-profile status. What about those tons of others which do not even come to light? Female infanticide? Honor killings? Rape? Where women are scared to report it, and even if they do report it nobody takes the complaint or it isn’t followed? How many women die like that everyday, slowly suffering, even as Kali is worshipped across the country?
I supported Phoolan Devi. I know she murdered and pillaged and perhaps did enough damage. But here is a woman, without any education or access to ‘modern’ facilities, who used the tools available to her – the gun. The courts wanted to punish her for murdering several men. But where were the courts when she was married off at the age of 11? When she was divorced and treated as an outcast merely two years later, when she was by all accounts, still a kid? There are conflicting reports about why she was divorced. But the point remains – she was 13. Even assuming kids are mentally older in such circumstances, she was a kid! And the fact also remains that she was raped brutally several times by men who had no other control over her. She refused to bow down to their archaic and cruel customs, so they took the only way they could break her. Force her and exploit her in the most brutal way possible. The law did not stand up for her then either.
What happened after she took to politics is a different story. But till that point, it is the story of a woman who was trying to survive.
Today, I wonder if we will ever progress to even the stage where a woman can wear a skirt on the road and not be teased. Where she can choose to openly say that she does not want children and not be looked down upon. Where she can really, truly make the choices of her life. Where she doesn’t have to shield so many thoughts simply because it isn’t ‘being Indian’. Where she can sit in a pub with a bunch of her male buddies and not be looked upon as a groupie, a tomboy or worse. Where she can sit in a local pub with just her friends. Where she doesn’t have to pretend to be traditional after that so she will not get tarred by some black tag.
I wonder. And I am getting tired.