Govt’s hollow assurances and tall claims on law and order situation belied by rise in heinous crimes

Rapes and related murders are accelerating to such an extent that one is provoked to comment that there seems a nexus between the political mafia and the legal machinery

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Humra Quraishi

The alleged rape and murder of a nine-year-old Dalit girl child in the capital city of the country is another of those reminders that we are living in dark-barbaric-ruthless times. Nah, no human form is safe and secure, in spite of all those governmental claims that there’s a machinery to look after the welfare and well-being of the citizens. Bogus seem those hollow assurances and tall claims.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but only a very small percentage of the rape victims are treated with utmost sensitivity. If left alive, they suffer severe dents on their psyche as well as on their forms. They continue witnessing hopelessness, amidst false hopes and promises.

Needless for me to add that the most vulnerable are the children of the country. Yes, both girls and boys. And that vulnerability has only go compounded in these Coronavirus ridden times. With lakhs of them not being able to attend schools, they are out there in the fields and lanes and by-lanes.

Of course, in this particular case, the Dalit girl had entered a cremation ground near the shanty where she lived with her family to fill cold water from the water-cooler, where she was allegedly raped and murdered by the priest and four other men.

Somehow, this girl child’s rape and murder reminded one of the rape and murder of another young girl. In the spring of 2018, an 8-year-old Bakkarwal Muslim girl was raped and murdered in Kathua, on the outskirts of Jammu. Never before in the recent history of the Kashmir region had a child been gang raped with such brutality. That girl was lured from the forest where she had gone grazing sheep and horses, confined in a village temple, drugged and then raped repeatedly before being bludgeoned to death.

When her body was finally recovered from an isolated spot in the forest, communal politics came into play, to such an alarming extent that even the child’s burial was not permitted in her village. Her family had to carry her battered and bruised and broken body for eight kilometres to another village, where she lies buried.

Rapes and related murders are accelerating to such an extent that one is provoked to comment that there seems a nexus between the political mafia and the legal machinery. Another case springs to mind: the Dalit girl in a Hathras village, who too was allegedly gang-raped and murdered, and then cremated by the UP police in the middle of the night.

Ironically, journalist Siddique Kappan and his colleagues, who were travelling down to Hathras to report on that gruesome tragedy were not just detained, but even booked under UAPA, and are languishing behind bars.

Re-watching Vinod Pande’s film in COVID times

Veteran filmmaker Vinod Pande turns 81 this coming week, on August 15 to be precise. And I recall that last year he gave himself a unique gift by hosting many more talk shows and also completing all his unfinished projects.

Recently I re-watched one of his recent films, Undertaker. It’s a film on human bonding taking off amidst much hopelessness and helplessness. After all, the tale revolves around Lakhpat, an undertaker for unclaimed bodies.

One day, he is followed by a dead woman’s young son to the cremation ground. The boy turns up at his door again at night, demanding two rotis. Lakhpat feeds him and thereby takes off an emotional bond between the two. And that paves way for the story to unfold, bringing into focus other emotional connects and also the disconnects that are bound to intrude.

In fact, I watched this film in the backdrop of the Coronavirus times we are destined to be living in. With hundreds of deaths taking place, the role of undertakers is of utmost significance. As is the role of filmmakers like Vinod Pande. His positivity holds out in real life. At an age where most would sit back retired, he is seizing every moment to come up with films and host talk shows and discussions. It is creativity at its peak.

Jawhar Sircar: A rarity in today’s India

The good news is that Jawhar Sircar, former Prasar Bharti CEO, has taken oath as member of the Rajya Sabha. He was nominated to the Upper House by the TMC. Though he’d been a bureaucrat for over four decades, I would like to describe him as a creative genius with a secular strain.

He is a man with a personality, equipped with strong views. His dislike for the communal and fascist forces is apparent and he is unchanging in his views and outlook. He comes across as a strong fearless man who is well-versed and articulate.

I have read Jawhar Sircar’s writings, and heard him discuss any given topic. For the last several years, he has been writing in great detail on each and every festival observed in the country. It’s not along some religious strain but more to inform his fellow citizens of the diversity of the land and its people.

In fact, about five years back when I had completed the manuscript of my book on the Dagars and Dhrupad, I wanted Jawhar Sircar to write the foreword to that book, because I was well aware of the fact that his knowledge of our traditional and classical arts was thorough. I requested him and he did write a detailed foreword, which could be described as one of the two strong points to that book. The other being the rare photographs of the Dagars, provided by the Dagar family.

Jawhar Sircar comes across as a man who speaks with strong convictions and an unchanging stand on secularism. His writings and works carry that mark of thorough research and that definite passion to write on the various aspects to our country and us.

He is indeed a rarity in today’s India!

(Views are personal)

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