In Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s Country, Rape is an Angelic Act
Sumera B. Reshi
“Rape is not just women’s issue. It’s about men who stop behaving like a human being & start behaving like animals”.
Asifa Bano’s rape and murder is another example of isolated, horrific episode of sexual violence in India, perpetrated against a feeble and defenceless girl by brutal and cruel men. But in the months since Asifa's murder, the case has become another battleground in India's religious wars.
April witnessed two cases of rape and murder, one belongs to Muslim nomadic tribe in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, the other in Unnao, in India’s most overcrowded state, Uttar Pradesh. Asifa was kidnapped and kept hostage at a temple 70 km away from Jammu. Eight-year-old Asifa was grazing her horses in a meadow in Kathau when a man gestured her into a forest. She was drugged, dragged and then locked in a nearby temple (Dev Asthan) and gang-raped by eight men. Later her body was found battered and smeared in blood in a forest on 17 January. Even after the rape, she wasn’t spared and was hit twice on the head with a stone, according to charging documents filed by police in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Asifa’s father, Mohammad Yusuf Pujwala told the New York Times that he is certain that his daughter was killed by the Hindu men for the sole purpose of driving Bakerwala’s away. The powerless 8-year-old girl wasn’t fed for days. She was only fed on sedatives so that these gruesome men can perform the heinous act of rape stealthily. But they forgot that their deity is watching them inside the temple and up above the skies. And when they satisfied their lust, greed and hatred, she was strangled to death even though, she was unconscious.
As per the charge sheet documents, this dreadful act happened under the lookout of the temple custodian Sanji Ram, his son Vishal and his nephew (a juvenile) and a special police officer, Deepak Khajuria. At last, this 8-year-old girl child, wearing a bright purple colour dress was found among bushes in Rasana, her body maimed and smeared with blood.
According to Nazir Masoodi’s NDTV blog, Asifa’s rape and murder wasn’t only a criminal act rather it was purportedly organized with an objective to browbeat a minority Muslim community in the area. The cardinal aim of this nasty act was to kick out nomads and Gujjars who are Muslims. The politicians, policemen and even lawyers have attempted, openly and brazenly, to shield the accused in the Jammu region and have long been demanding the removal of Muslim minorities from the area because of the fear of a ‘demographic change’ in the Jammu region. Nomads and Bakerwals make less than eight per cent of the population in and around Jammu.
Nonetheless, this discrimination was going on for since long. Gujjars and Bakerwal’s often remained under the shadow of fear. They knew they might have to bear an assault from the hands of Hindu fanatics roaming freely in Jammu region.
Therefore, they demanded the implementation of the Forest Rights Act in Jammu & Kashmir, which would bestow them rights to use forest land which was evaded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as they believe that the nomads and the Gujjars are invaders and infringers. Since Article 370 gives special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir but the law has on and off been misused by the politicians at their ease either to approve or reject any law implemented by the central government in New Delhi. As the Forest Rights Act in Jammu & Kashmir bestowed rights to these Muslim tribes, hence Lal Singh, state's Forest Minister opposed the Forest Rights Act outright fearing they might encroach the area.
This shows the simmering hatred among Hindu’s and Muslims in Kashmir and Jammu divisions. The hatred is so deep that even lawyers, civil society groups and politicians in the Jammu region alike are bubbling in it, that they didn’t fear the wrath of Kali when they supported Asifa’s rapists.
Kathua rape case reminded us all that humanity is dead now especially in India. The locals were not satisfied even after Asifa was rapped, maimed and murdered brutally. She was denied to be buried in the piece of land owned by her father because Hindus in the region feared demography change even by the burial of this small child.
The second case which shook the humanity is the one which took place in Unnao and the main accused here is a legislator who belongs to the ruling dispensation. A 17-year-old girl in Unnao was raped by Kuldip Singh Sengar, a powerful upper caste politician on 4 June 2017. Police refused to act against the politician, thus, she attempted to commit suicide outside the house of the chief minister. Her father was beaten by Sengar’s brother Atul Singh. This is a reality check for those who believe that ache din are here, that “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” was a commitment, not a slogan. India is full of rape and hate culture. People are humiliated either on caste or religious lines. Asifa paid the price for being a Muslim tribal girl in conflict-hit Jammu and Kashmir and a 17-year-old girl in Unnao paid for being a low caste & underclass Hindu.
In India, a woman is reportedly raped every 15 minutes and the majority of rape cases still go unreported. The statistics on crime against women is even worse: Every 2 minutes, women in India is a victim of a crime. This ongoing issue with violence against women raises the real and serious question of whether India is truly ready for a seat on the global table.
Why India achieved the distinction of being a rape capital? There are people who have put forth certain theories. Some believe that the ongoing rape issue is the lopsided sex ratio. Akin to China, India has a massive imbalance in its sex ratio. As per the Indian census, the sex ratio in the 6 and below age group has risen from 102.4 males /100 females in 1961 to 108.9 in 2011.
Social scientists and economists call this the ‘Bare Branches’ phenomenon, which actually is a result of female feticide over a long period of time. This problem is also prevalent in China as well. Studies conducted by MIT and Columbia University claimed that the Bare Branches – males have no chances of finding a female companion, thus threaten domestic stability and international security.
Nevertheless, this argument is not logically correct because surplus males in China didn’t lead to rape culture or crisis there. However, the study reveals that while China has seen a surge in general violence due to the Bare Branches phenomenon, but they rather tend to behave politely around women but no such correlation was found in India.
Since ages, people in India think that rape has no penalties and where hostility has been unbridled by an imbalanced sex ratio and where women have little respect, 37,000 rapes /year is not surprising or disturbing, then where does Asifa or Nirbaya exist in such a country and would such innocents ever get justice when its people justify the culture of rape and culture of hate. We the people, shouldn’t be surprised at Kathua, Unnao or Delhi rape incidents as the Veer Savarkar aka Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s followers are in power now.