The brutal gang assault of yet another young girl in India and her subsequent death from her grave injuries have been familiarly upsetting enough, in what should be a disconcerting reality in itself.
But we seem to have reached new lows, if that were possible with this incident in the way the UP police have carried out their ‘system of procedure.’
First there were the denials of course, along with the customary dismissals of the family’s claims. Then there was the seemingly carte blanche approach in the way the body was transported back to Hathras. And then the kicker, when the police reportedly proceeded to cremate the woman’s body in the dead of night, without handing it over the family, going so far as to barricade them in their own homes and robbing them of their right to a proper funeral.
While the authorities contend that the victim’s family was in the know and that the cremation had been carried out with their consent, videos allegedly showing the family members protesting and attempting to block the ambulance carrying the victim seem to suggest otherwise.
Anger over the police’s handling of the entire case is boiling over on social media, with caste and gender, and their role in Indian society, as always being the touchstones in debates, both loud and civilized.
Calls for resignation by the authorities, descriptions of the mindsets of Indian men and their vast unemployed status as the ‘root’ of these crimes, referring to citizens of the country with equal human rights, including the right to dignified final rites, as ‘daughters,’ it’s nothing we have not helplessly heard before.
Helpless we feel, because helpless we are. We have not reopened the conversation about caste and gender, that book was always lying on the table. Most of us never opened it in the first place, as is so tellingly obvious, some out of apathy, some out of willful ignorance, some because of vested interests including the criminals and their covers, but a lot because of the helplessness we feel as ordinary citizens.
As we see our fellow human beings being treated with the utmost indignity, as we watch helplessly and as the state of affairs reach new lows, we have to wonder whether it is chipping away at our own dignity as a people.
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