Hang molesters

...... but fix blame on merit, not on emotion

AJAZ UL HAQUE
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 16 2017 11:18PM | Updated Date: Dec 16 2017 11:18PM
Hang molestersRepresentational Pic

Calling Zaira Waseem's molestation charge a `publicity tactic' will be prejudging the intent. She is a talented artist who - like all humans - deserves honour. Any attempt to outrage anyone's modesty must be – legally and socially - punishable. Well legally law takes its course and we respect the legal course of action. But socially our response has been wild, blind and – in some cases – utterly absurd.  

We are a condemnation crazy people. We have loads of condemnations in stock and the avalanche is unleashed against the accused. We are swept with the sensation of a statement. Such impulsiveness informs our social and political behaviour as well.  We rarely bother to bother our common sense. Our social workers, civil society activists, women rights defenders, politicians – all condemn the accused unheard, unseen, unequivocally. Exactly the same happened here. Zaira's instagram message instantly made us come out with knives and daggers against the `molester' whom none had known, seen nor heard. After all the event had not happened in a dark isolated jungle with not even a ghost to bear a witness. It was in a plane boarded by humans, manned by humans, and hosted by humans. Sanity demands neither to dismiss the validity of the accusation nor to defend the accused mindlessly. Unless we weigh the details on merit, conclusions can be hasty, judgements flawed. In this case, no one had heard the statement of any co-passenger, no one knew the version of the flight crew, but condemnations were flowing. Our present chief minister was the first to be `appalled' by what had happened (which in itself is an appalling example of immaturity). Our former chief minister didn't lose a second to second her lest he miss the bandwagon (which is no less silly). And thus started the flogging of the (yet to be proved) `molester'. How can we stone the `criminal' and sympathise with the `victim', when neither the criminal nor the victim is identified. 

We can't still be sure of what has happened. We don't suspect her intent, but what she says has to be matched against the details available from the place and the people around. She must have felt it as a wrongful advance when someone's foot touched the armrest of her seat. But the arguments by H S Anand, advocating for the accused Vikas Sachdev too ask for attention. `If the victim was being molested continuously in two hours flight why she did not complain at first or even later during the flight'. `The chair of business class has good height and therefore nobody can keep legs on the chair and touch the person sitting in the front row'. Moreover the statement of the co-passenger and the background of the accused with an absence of such history makes the scene even hazier. Still the story may be reverse, still the accused may prove guilty, still the allegation may come true. But till then we can reserve our condemnations. 

Women need strength and laws have to be equally strong against violators. But one's strength must not mean other's vulnerability. Assess stories from case to case and let sense, not sensation prevail. Hang molesters, but hang on a minute, think a bit, see a little, then pull the lever. 

 


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