ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Some Uncomfortable Questions

Delhi Gang Rape Case

Why is it that heinous crimes -including the rape and murder of Surekha and Priyanka Bhotmange in Khairlanji - against dalits have failed to provoke anger amongst the larger Indian public? Were they any less gruesome than the recent Delhi gang rape? Even in the case of Khairlanji, despite spontaneous dalit protests lasting for over a month in Maharashtra and beyond, not even the so-called progressives had joined them. It was natural therefore that dalits felt alienated from the upmarket uproar against the Delhi gang rape.

The brutal attack and gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern in Delhi on 16 December 2012 provoked countrywide angry reactions and foregrounded the issue of increasing incidents of sexual assaults on women in general and rapes in particular. It compelled the otherwise apathetic administration to take several exceptional measures such as flying the woman to a super-specialty hospital in Singapore and fast-tracking the trial of the perpetrators. Unfortunately the ­victim could not be saved. Now that she is gone and the issue has faded from the television screens one can think dispassionately and raise some questions that remained suppressed in the heat of agitation. For instance, dalits who suffer alone when their daughters are raped and murdered with impunity are annoyed by this sudden burst of concern for rape as though it was some strange occurrence in the country. They poured out their anger in their blogs and e-mail groups asking why all those candle ­bearers did not shed a single tear over the rape and murder of Surekha and Priyanka Bhotmange that was committed in a festive mode by Khairlanji ­villagers. What indeed is the character of these television-induced agitations? Do they really serve the purpose of diminishing social evils or trivialise them? What, for instance, did this ­agitation do for the cause of women’s honour?

Why Only Nirbhaya?

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