From South to North. From December 2018 to December 2019 and the circle is complete. Even as the country is debating whether the police went beyond their call of duty in eliminating the four suspects in the gruesome rape and murder of a young Veterinarian near Hyderabad on December 5, another young girl who was raped on December 12, 2018 at Unnao in Uttar Pradesh succumbed to the burn injuries she received after she was set ablaze by a gang of men, including the alleged rapist. The young Unnao girl was set ablaze on December 5 and she succumbed to her injuries on December 7. Ironic it is but this is the land where Durga is worshipped, where Lakshmi is prayed to for wealth and well being and Saraswati is hailed and worshipped as the Goddess of knowledge. A land where the story of Ram would not be complete without Sita and this is the country where 33,000 rape cases were reported in 2017, according to figures released by the National Crime Bureau. This works out to an average of 90 rape cases per day ! Top this off with the fact that many rape and molestation cases go unreported due to fear or shame and the social stigma usually associated with rape victims and the reality is more than enough for the Government to wake up and do something. From 2012, remember Nirbhaya, to 2019, from North to South and the circle is indeed complete and there just does not seem to be any ready formula to deal with the situation. A clear reflection that the Government just has no idea on how to protect women and this is central to the debate over the clinical ‘execution’ of the four suspects in the ‘rape, burn and kill’ of a young girl at Hyderabad on November 27.
The important question here is, how seriously is the Government looking at the avenues to crack down on rape cases ? True the Government has passed some stringent anti-rape legislations but it also stands that as long as it is seen to be supping with elements against whom charges of rapes are pending, it will send the wrong signal to all, including all potential rapists. It also needs no reminding why some police officers have deemed it better to become vigilantes and the story of the Hyderabad ‘encounter story’ should be seen and understood in its entirety. Whatever the shortfalls of the Government, it is nonetheless encouraging to see two schools of thought emerging from the Hyderabad encounter story. While one has gone ahead and lauded the Hyderabad police for the ‘clinical execution’ there are others who have raised strong opposition against what they charge is the police taking the law into its own hands and taking on the role of policemen, judge and executioner simultaneously. A clear indication that even though the Government continues to be inept and inefficient to guarantee the safety of women, the spirit of democracy is still alive and kicking. For all purpose, the Hyderabad rape and kill case may be said to have closed, but all eyes will be on Unnao to see if justice will be delivered. The prime suspect is known and the case is known. This should be the first opportunity to show that the Government is serious about guaranteeing the safety of women.