Your protest versus mine: Those asking why no Kathua-like outrage over Mandsaur rape are wilfully missing the point

Kathua had the powerful openly backing the accused. In Mandsaur, the police has done its job, and the locals have disowned the accused.

 |  4-minute read |   02-07-2018
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If you have been on social media recently – Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook – you have by now seen multiple variations of: “Why are there no protests over the Mandsaur rape? This crime is as horrible as Kathua. Only because the girl is a Hindu and the accused a Muslim? These pseudo-seculars only wish to defame Hindus.”

Chances are, you, or someone you know, has nodded to this, saying: “Point toh hai. Every rape is horrible – but why the selective outrage? Why no candle marches and placards from the so-called liberals and seculars?”

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A tale of two protests: After the Mandsaur rape, locals took out a protest march in support of the victim. (Below) In Kathua, the protest march was in favour of the accused. Photo: PTI/Twitter

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No, point nahin hai.

Not one statement in that line of argument is right – morally, factually or logically.  

Every rape is horrific. What is also horrific is rape being used for score-keeping, facts deliberately misrepresented to bash groups and communities you don’t like.

There are inescapable facts here. These include:

  1. Kathua needed candles and placards because people – important, powerful people – were publicly supporting the rape accused, and those more powerful than them were doing nothing to stop them. 
  2. Civil society most needs to make its voice heard when the administration fails in its duty. In the Mandsaur case, the police have done their job — the accused were arrested within 24 hours, all due process since seems to have been followed. 
  3. The outrage over Kathua was far from spontaneous — the child was brutalised and murdered in January, the protests began three months later, after the stomach-churning details of the crime given in the chargesheet became public. 
  4. Political parties, most notable the Congress with its candle light protest, seemed to have woken up to Kathua only after the Unnao rape case gave them a great weapon to target the BJP with. 
  5. There indeed have been protests after Mandsaur — the local community poured out on the streets soon after the crime was reported, in favour of the rape victim – and not the accused, as was the case in Kathua.

The 'religion' of crime

And if we must bring religion in before we outrage over a crime, Kathua, the probe so far suggests, was an outright communal crime. The 8-year-old Bakarwal girl was raped and killed to create fear in the minds of local Muslims and force them to flee the area. It was not the media or “liberals” who brought religion into the crime – it was the accused, who saw the child as a “Muslim girl”.

It was those rallying in their favour who saw the accused as Hindus, and who raised voices in their support under platforms such as the Hindu Ekta Manch. If Hindus were indeed 'insulted' and defamed in the process, it was by such people, who used religion to shield those allegedly involved in such a heinous crime, not by those who raised their voice against the crime.

In contrast, the Muslim community in Mandsaur has publicly asked for the accused to be hanged. Lawyers have refused to represent them. Muslim leaders from the area have declared that the accused will get no space in community graveyards, and Islamic prayers will not be offered after their death.

Those taking out protests for the Kathua rape accused are in no way representatives of all Hindus. Yet, they assumed that power because political parties chose to consider them as such – both Congress and BJP leaders were part of the Hindu Ekta Manch, and no political party spoke out against the rape for a long time, for fear of alienating Jammu's Hindus.

What the Hindu community needs to protest is this — that the powers-that-be are assuming that some demented, violent people are spokespersons for all Hindus.

That such people are being allowed to set the agenda on behalf of the whole Hindu community.     

Look who’s tweeting

This “selective-outrage” narrative is being peddled on social media by several influential people. Here are some tweets, by famous people, by those with thousands of followers, by those followed by the Prime Minister and Union ministers.

And of course, Amit Malviya, the head of the BJP IT Cell:

The tweets are full of false equivalences and open bigotry. If you are willing to exploit the emotive potential of rape, women’s safety is surely not your concern.All you care about is Muslim-baiting, and discrediting voices you don’t like because they call out your bigotry and hatred.

This is the mentality we should be protesting, and outraging against.  

Also read: Maharashtra, Tripura lynchings: What happens when a govt has zero-tolerance policy on everything but hate crime

Writer

Yashee Yashee @yasheesingh

The writer is a journalist.

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