Published on September 21st, 20131
Why the silence on ‘those’ rapes?
Several women were reportedly raped and molested during the recent Muzaffarnagar riots in UP. Why is nobody talking about them?
Last week saw two crucial announcements taking place – one, death for the four Delhi rapists of Nirbhaya, and two, the official appointment of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the General Elections next year.
Both these announcements put to mind a certain fact – hundreds of women were raped in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, and more recently, there were reports of rape and sexual harassment of women from the ‘weaker sections’ during the Muzaffarnagar riots.
I cannot fathom the silence about these atrocities. Why were these victims not allowed to lodge formal complaints? Who are these rapists? Why are there no arrests? Why were no death sentences passed against them? Why are the criminals allowed to go untouched, or even allowed to escape?
What is the establishment saying: that rapes taking place during a pogrom or a communal riot can be forgotten or bypassed? That they are not important enough to merit investigation? Except for certain sections of the national media, not one political party in the country has spoken about this extremely disturbing news; that women were harassed and raped and molested during the recent rioting in West Uttar Pradesh. And that they and their families have not dared to file a formal complaint, perhaps out of fear of the aftermath.
So many women sit bruised and broken…
It is this acceptance of such grave injustice that worries me the most. And it has been happening right from the 2002 pogrom. I have been meeting Muslims affected in Gujarat on and off since 2002, and they have been saying over and over that they have learnt to live like second class citizens, with third class living conditions. They dare not speak out against the powers that be, for that could mean doom. If they have to survive, they have no choice but be silent spectators to their own pain and humiliation.
Some of them, I fear, could even be lured towards Modi’s political party, a party that wears a multitude of masks! The BJP is a party that believes in multiplying through an array of shrewd strategies amidst a conspiracy of silence and clever attacks.
Even more worrying is the feeling of doom in the air…much before the elections of 2014 come about, there have been very worrying developments in the country. A very militant sort of communalism is rearing its ugly head bit by bit. Are we to sit and quietly await developments, even as injustices are meted out every day?
Humra Quraishi is a senior political journalist based in Gurgaon. She is the author of Kashmir: The Untold Story and co-author of Simply Khushwant.
(Pictures courtesy daily.bhaskar.com, www.sandeepweb.com)