Words fail us, and so we use hashtags.
Words ostensibly failed Prime Minister Narendra Modi too. It took a full four days and national outrage until he finally deigned to comment on the horrific Kathua and Unnao rapes, calling them “incidents”, and pontificating emptily about the brave freedom fighters who fought to give us this nation today.
But here’s the thing, Mr PM. This isn’t that country. These are not incidents.They’re symptoms of the cancer you and your posse of Hindu supremacists, social media trolls and MPs have led the country to.
A country where an eight-year-old girl is sedated, gangraped multiple times and killed, all to drive out a nomadic community – belonging to the wrong religion –from an area.
A country where the Hinduness of her bestial rapists and killers becomes the lynchpin around which elected leaders from your party construct their obstruction of justice.
A country where a gaggle of Hindu lawyers tries to stop police from entering a court to file charges against the accused men.
A country where an elected leader, who is also the rape accused – Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the BJP MLA from Unnao accused of raping a minor Dalit woman – is pictured grinning with impunity outside UP CM Ajay Singh Bisht’s (Yogi Adityanath) office.
A country where that girl’s father dies in judicial custody after she and her family attempt suicide in protest, and not a murmur of protest escapes the throats of the powers-that-be.
Yes there will be candlelight marches, opinion pieces, lament over the state of the nation, and the belated calls to action – eight people have finally been arrested over the Kathua case, including four police officers and a minor; in the Kathua case, allegations against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar are yet to be investigated and the Central Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case.
Meanwhile, we have pictures of an eight-year-old girl who was brutalised, to look at. A reminder of how far we have fallen. A chilling souvenir of the religion, gender and place in the power nexus you need to belong to to live in this India of today. A country without a conscience. One so far from the poetic sentiment Rabindranath Tagore exuded in ‘Where the mind is without fear’ – the kind of poetic mawkishness our PM loves to invoke in his devoted followers on days when it’s convenient to be emotional rather than bluster on and beat his ‘56-inch chest’.
Into this hell, has our country awoken.
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