Dr. Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad is an eminent psychiatrist who discovered an illness that is named after him – Prasad’s Syndrome. He is also a qualified barrister with an LLM from Harvard and doctorates from Oxford, Cambridge and North Carolina. If you’re not impressed yet, try getting a disease named after you.
The Hypocrites in Parliament
For a change there was a rare unanimity is both houses of Parliament on December 18, 2012. While the country was in a state of shock after the gruesome rape in Delhi, the parliamentarians were united in expressing their revulsion and outrage. Even the calls for stricter laws and death penalty for rape cut across party lines.
The victim in question is thankfully on the road to recovery. And I am happy to see that she has not been reduced to a “zinda laash” (living corpse) for the rest of her life, as suggested by Sushma Swaraj. The Deputy Commissioner of the Delhi Police was on one of the channels attempting to re-assure the population that that his organisation was up to the job – not very convincingly as it turned out and he soon lost his cool on Arnab’s interrogatories and became unacceptably officious – and completely overlooked the fact that the prima facie performance of the Delhi Police not just in this episode but overall leaves a lot to be desired.
But it was the posture the politicians had adopted that left me flummoxed. I found most of what was said completely surreal. I personally do not believe that our politicians harbour the abhorrence for a crime – even a crime as heinous as this – to the extent they should. There have been many instances in which our politicians cutting across party lines have tended to de-prioritise the most inhuman and dastardly crimes when it has suited them.
In effect, what I am saying is that I do not trust our politicians when they spout platitudes on crime and morality. A parliament in which nearly 20 per cent of the members are being tried for a range of crimes which include murder and rape is not credible when it expresses revulsion. This is despite Renuka Chowdhury’s very high decibel indignation at the incident. To many, her posturing may have appeared feigned.
And there is a good reason for this unfortunate state of affairs as I will attempt to adumbrate here. I would like all the readers to rack their memories and try to recall the name Gurkirat Singh! A common enough name, but those who were following the Indian political scene in 1994 would remember that he was the main accused in the rape of a French tourist.
Gurkirat Singh happened to be the grandson of the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh. And some of the leading lights of Congress (I), at the time, openly advocated downplaying the incident as Beant Singh according to them had played a heroic role in subjugating terrorists in Punjab. In other words, for the sake of political expediency, it was completely acceptable to overlook the dictates of justice. Again, not a very uncommon precept in India – happens here all the time when it comes to politicians.
Footnote: The French girl in question was allegedly subjected to severe threats and left the country not appearing in the farce of the criminal trial. This resulted in the dismissal of the case. Gurkirat is leading a life of material luxury and is a member of Congress (I) in good standing which even considered him seriously for a ticket to the legislative assembly. He has always maintained that he was framed without explaining why a French tourist would want to frame him.
At the time, the incident made headlines. The media seems to have completely obliterated it from its memory now. I did not hear a single reference to it in any of the news bulletins/debates until now. And surely the time is apposite to raise it. I would have expected at least one of the news channels to have made the effort to interview the girl in question. Not only was she betrayed but the entire country stood demeaned on account of this dastardly act – the United States of America even placed India on its list of unsafe places immediately after this.
The tendency among the media to raise an issue to an unprecedented pitch and then to allow it to fade from public memory is disconcerting and is to be deprecated. Earlier, in the case of Baby Afreen I had felt that she might be reduced to a statistic. That is exactly what has happened and I worry that this is the fate that might await this egregious injustice.
Unsurprisingly, Renuka with all the indignation and sneer at her command in full flow did not feel the need to raise Gurkirat’s name. More surprising was how even the Opposition was reluctant to mention this episode.
Jaya Bachchan waxed and waned on how women continued to be victimised and did not receive a fair deal. Her words would have carried greater conviction had she not represented a party, one of whose stalwarts is Amarmani Tripathi. Now serving life for killing his pregnant girlfriend and who still enjoys the perks of Samajwadi Party membership/Mulayam’s friendship in prison as Headlines Today had revealed.
Here is a list of MPs/MLAs with declared cases of rape/crimes against women, who are still being fielded by various political parties as candidates. http://adrindia.org/content/analysis-candidates-mps-and-mlas-who-have-declared-crimes-against-women-including-rape
The dismal state that we are in reminds me of two of George Bernard Shaw’s most famous quotes:
“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.”
“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”
We really have to reflect. Is this what we deserve?
Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/nigsby/3373924077/]
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