Unnao to Barabanki – two opposite desires are struggling for dominion in our society
Today the Supreme Court has transferred all cases related to the Unnao rape out of Uttar Pradesh. This is a damning indictment, but only the latest one, of the way in which the law and order machinery has failed the young woman who was only a minor in 2017 when she says she was gang raped by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his associates.
Last year her father died in police custody. On Sunday a truck with its license plate suspiciously blackened crashed into her car, her two aunts were killed, her lawyer was seriously injured, she is battling for life on a ventilator – it is reported that her police escort had not got into the car conveniently saying it had no space for them.
The stringent POCSO and anti-rape laws notwithstanding trial has not begun even one year after CBI charged Sengar and others of rape and murder. If BJP has expelled Sengar today it is too little too late. Every rape survivor out there thinking about pursuing justice would be thinking twice, having seen how police and political power have brutally and systematically subverted it in the Unnao case.
Meanwhile, over in Barabanki, about 90km away from Unnao, a teenager asked the police visiting her school and advising the schoolchildren to always reach for the law: “What is the guarantee that if I protest against some influential political leader then I will be safe and nothing will happen to me?” She did this with great clarity and to the applause of her schoolmates. Her summary of the Unnao case was chilling. But bottom line is that fully cognizant of the scandals of law and society, she is still standing straight and resolute for the cause of women’s safety.
And this is the juxtaposition emblematic of our times. Surely the bright consciousness of this Barabanki schoolgirl and the extraordinary fighting spirit of the Unnao survivor speak to the current state of Uttar Pradesh as much as the political-police-judicial resistance to their struggles and demands. Even as the latter presses one into hopelessness, the former suggests there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Youth of Barabanki and elsewhere could help build a better tomorrow. Or could themselves sink into a mire of apathy as they cross over into adulthood. On good days I believe they will prevail.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.