Kavita Krishnan: Never seen a ‘Balatkari Bachao Abhiyan’ by ruling party

Never seen before has this country seen ruling party leaders marching to defend the accused of the rape and murder of a child, while waving the National Flag

Photo by Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
Photo by Yawar Nazir/Getty Images
user

Kavita Krishnan

As long as the Balatkari Bachao Abhiyan was going well, and not generating outrage in national and international media and the Indian streets and political circles, the Prime Minister maintained a studious silence.

He finally broke the silence and made a few vague, anodyne assurances that daughters would surely be protected, only when it seemed that the Balatkari Bachao Abhiyan might be costing him politically. But what he didn’t say still resounds louder than what he said.

He said 'what has been discussed in the last two days is shameful and does not befit a civilised society.' So—the Prime Minister is reacting only to the discussion—i.e the protests and the media coverage—and not to the events. The Unnao teenager accused BJP MLA Sengar of rape a year ago. Her father wrote to the UP CM and the PM
about it. But he was arrested and beaten to death in custody—three days before Modi spoke. Modi said not a word about the conduct of the UP police on this matter. He said nothing, not a word, about the fact that Adityanath ordered a rape case accusing former Union Minister ‘Swami’ Chinmayanand of raping a woman in his ashram withdrawn. He said nothing about the Allahabad High Court’s observations, while
ordering the arrest of Sengar, that “law and order appear to have collapsed in UP.” If Modi, while seeking votes in UP, promised ‘Beti Bachao’ and instead his party’s government is defending rapists and letting law and order “collapse”, surely he owes the people of the country an answer?

The Kathua rape and murder happened in January 2018. The much-maligned JNU students (whom Modi bhakt anchors like Arnab Goswami love to accuse of ‘silence’ as though they were the government) raised their voice then—and were rewarded by violence by the Modi Government’s police. On February 23 again, several of us raised our voices on Kathua in Delhi at the Indian Women’s Press Corps. The media ignored
the event. Meanwhile, between January and April, BJP Ministers Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga led Hindu Ekta Manch rallies against the arrest of the accused. Remember, according to the chargesheet in the Kathua case, the incident is a planned conspiracy to “spread terror” in the nomadic Bakarwal Gujjar community, a
vulnerable scheduled tribe. The BJP Ministers’ speeches not only defended the accused in the gruesome rape-murder of a child; they contributed to the climate of terror.

Kavita Krishnan: “Let’s ask what emboldens the Kathua accused to claim support in the name of ‘Hindu Unity’ – is it not because that tactic has worked in the case of those accused of rape during communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, Gujarat and Kandhamal?”

At a Hindu Ekta Manch rally for the accused on March 1, 2018, attended by no less than seven BJP MLAs, Chaudhary Lal Singh, then the Forest Minister, said "One girl was killed here. They don’t understand that many women have gone missing since 1947. No one is asking about them...” These words in Dogri were taken by Jammu-based reporters to be a sinister reference to the massacre of Muslim Gujjars in Partition violence in 1947. This reading of the BJP leader’s words is borne out by the fact that on 18 May, 2016, at his official residence, he had told Muslim Gujjars who had gone to raise the issue of their eviction from forest land, ““O Gujron, 1947 pulligaya hai tuse ge? (Gujjars, have you forgotten 1947. Why have you come here?)” Needless to say, Modi said not a word about the Hindu Ekta Manch or about the hatespeech by his leaders. He said nothing about the fact that though the two BJP Ministers submitted resignations from their Cabinet posts, they and the other MLAs who (sent by the BJP leadership attended the Hindu Ekta Manch’s pro-rape and pro-hate rallies, continue to be members and leaders of the party.

He said nothing about the fact that Talib Hussain, the lawyer and activist from the Bakarwal community who has been raising the issue right from the start was beaten up by BJP men in Udhampur.

Above all, Modi refused to acknowledge that people’s outrage that had forced him to break his silence, was not just at the fact of gruesome rapes. It was at the visual images – never seen before in this country in such a naked and shameless manner – of ruling party leaders marching to defend the accused of the rape and murder of a child, waving the National Flag and speaking of ‘Hindu Unity’; of lawyers in black coats physically preventing the chargesheet from being filed against the accused in Kathua. He refused to acknowledge that BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi’s whataboutery (she raised the issue of the brutal rape of a child in Nagaon, Assam where the accused are Muslim youth as a counter to Kathua and Unnao) is the cause of people’s anger, because no ‘Muslim Ekta Manch’ is holding pro-rape rallies waving the Tricolour in Nagaon, no lawyers are blocking arrests and chargesheets, and the rape was not part of a conspiracy to terrorise Hindus.

It has now become unacceptable and embarrassing to defend the Kathua rape-accused openly – and so many hate-mongers are making a token gesture saying they want ‘justice for the victim’. But let’s acknowledge the toxic climate of hatred (towards Muslims, towards Bakerwals, towards Rohingyas, towards Kashmiris) created by BJP and RSS, by influential sections of the media, and in Jammu, even by Congress leaders, that made it possible for the Kathua atrocity to happen and be ignored for four months. The hate campaign against the nomadic Bakarwals has been building for a long while now, alongside the anti-Rohingya rhetoric. You have the Jammu Bar Association President (a Congress man) who called the flop Jammu Bandh in defence of the Kathua rape accused, threatening genocide against the Rohingya refugees. You have Congress spokesperson Ravinder Sharma writing that he supported the issues of ‘encroachment’ by Bakarwals and the ‘Rohingya issue’ raised by the Jammu Bandh while holding an unspecified ‘different view’ from the BJP on the ‘Kathua rape and murder’. Really? Congress in Jammu joins BJP in its hate campaign against the Bakarwals and Rohingya refugees but equivocates on the Kathua rape and murder which was a part and parcel of the hate campaign? Fascism can’t be fought or defeated by feeding such hate, that can’t be dispelled by the light of midnight candles.

Kavita Krishnan: “Modi refused to acknowledge that people’s outrage that had forced him to break his silence, was not just at the fact of gruesome rapes. It was at the visual images – never seen before in this country in such a naked and shameless manner – of ruling party leaders marching to defend the accused of the rape and murder of a child”

Yes. I believe that we are at a unique and unprecedented moment in our history. At no previous time – no, not even in 2012 December – have we seen so brazen a Balatkari Bachao Abhiyan by a ruling party. But, even as we acknowledge this, we have to recognise how we as a country got to this place. What callused our consciences and allowed things to reach such a pass?

I ask: when the media lionised Adityanath and told of his pets’ names and his daily diet, did it not know full well that he authored a piece peddling the Manusmiriti line that women must always be kept under the control of father, husband or son? Did it not know that in his presence, a leader of his Hindu Yuva Vahini (soul-sister of Hindu Ekta Manch) called for dead Muslim women to be dug up from graves and raped? When such a man was made UP CM and BJP star campaigner, could the cruelties of Unnao, Chinmayanand and Kathua not be foreseen? When he boasted of that his police killed 38 men, declaring them ‘criminal’ without a trial, could we not foresee that the same police would and could declare Adityanath and his own men ‘innocent’ without trial; and that they would be emboldened to arrest and murder the rape complainant’s father?

When former Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh was made a Minister, did the media and Modi not know that when he was Police Commissioner, he blamed “promiscuous” women and sex education for rape? If the media failed in its duty to hold Modi accountable for choosing such as man for his Cabinet, is it any surprise now that Singh suggests that the Unnao complaint could be a liar and Sengar need not be arrested?

Are we really surprised that Vishnu Nandakumar, (RSS cadre and the son of EN Nandakumar, a senior RSS functionary in Kerala, who in turn is the brother of Kerala state BJP general secretary, AN Radhakrishnan) posted on Facebook that it was a 'good thing' that the eight-year-old girl in Kathua has been killed, because 'better that she was killed early, otherwise she would have grown up to be a bomb to the nation in future'? Many of us have been seeing such posts and tweets celebrating atrocities against Muslims and against anyone of us speaking up for minority rights, everyday, including by handles followed by the Prime Minister and employees of slavishly pro-Modi channels.

Did you let ourselves be part of the backlash that says women file false complaints of rape; that the rape law is draconian? Did you celebrate the Supreme Court upholding that a woman’s ‘feeble no is a yes’? All that contributed to normalising rape culture that isolated complainants of whom the Unnao complainant is just one.

Finally, let’s ask what emboldens the Kathua accused to claim support in the name of ‘Hindu Unity’ – is it not because that tactic has worked in the case of those accused of rape during communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, Gujarat and Kandhamal?

To be continued...

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines


Published: 25 Apr 2018, 9:18 AM