Let death be the verdict
The brutalisation of a young girl in a private bus in Delhi, along with her male friend, has justifiably raised national outrage. There is widespread angst, anger and disgust at the horrific incident where the magnitude of violence, pain, humiliation and degradation inflicted on the girl cannot even be imagined or paraphrased in a language of normalcy.
In many ways, this reflects a sick, declining and perverse social order, driven by no fear of law or values. Even as the male friend remains hurt and devastated inside the hospital, the girl, with her mind and body and the insides of her body wounded at the extreme, is still struggling for life in critical care.
The entire country’s wishes, undoubtedly, remain each moment with her, praying for her physical and mental recovery, even while students from JNU and elsewhere protested outside Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit’s house, breaking police barricades, and facing lathicharge and water cannons.
The sharp and collective public outrage is justified. But what’s amusing is the reaction of politicians such as BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who has asked for a death sentence to the accused. Has she not heard about the rapes in Gujarat? Why not demand the same punishment for those rapists? Can she say that there were no rapes during the 2002 Gujarat riots?
So what about death penalty for those who went about raping women in Gujarat under the leadership of Narendra Modi, many of them well-known Sangh Parivar functionaries? And the police and administration and chief minister’s office which presided over it all with a certain blind and cold blooded detachment -- what punishment should be given to them?
In the same vein, atrocities and violence against women, across the spectrum, across the rural-urban, caste-class, religion-ethnicity divide should be put in perspective, from the open-to-sky collective rapes of hill-women at Rampur Tiraha demanding Uttarakhand, to tribals raped and killed in the dense forests of Chhattisgarh branding them as Maoists, to a thousand stories of invisibility across the ravaged Indian landscape which are buried, ignored, condemned to their tragic fatedness of eternal injustice and despair.
Remember Soni Sori? With stones found in her vagina after police torture? She is still in jail, and the cop presiding over this torture, got a president’s medal. To brand all those fighting against the government for their rights as terrorists is sign of failure of a democratic, welfare State. A distinction needs to be made between cases of human revolt and human depravity. Human revolt is many times for betterment of society, whereas human depravity has no such aspiration.
It is irrational to call for abolition of death penalty at a time when heinous crimes such as rapes, genocide, and paedophilia are on the increase around the world. As long as such inhumane crimes continue to be perpetrated in this world, there is need for capital punishment. As long as beasts in the form of human beings lurk around, death sentences need to hang over society as a Damocles sword.
The Delhi rape case is an opportunity for the Indian justice system to show that it indeed delivers justice. If the trial is held in a fast track court, and the accused are found guilty, a death sentence will be welcome verdict.