Less than a month after a Kashmiri girl committed suicide, a three-year-old innocent girl was raped by a human shaped monster in Sumbal, that too at the time of Iftar during the month of Ramdhan. The monster lured the child with candy, abducted and then raped her at the toilet of a nearby school in the vicinity. The reaction by religious groups, media and other sections of the society was chaotic and doleful to the heinous crime. In reaction to this shocking and shameful incident, the lukewarm reaction perhaps marks a change and transition in our moral values which were the best practices of our age old society.
On a bright Ramdhan morning, I was sitting in my living room going through my office files. My son who has returned to the valley after a long time, was sitting just besides me when out of nowhere he said that he had been proud of our clean moral and cultural record when it came to criminal acts such as rapes, but this Sumbal squalid episode had forced him to think otherwise. This sentence of his put me in a flashback mode. Having seen the larger part of the previous few decades, such crimes I can recall were never a part of our society. Our society may have had a number of problems, we may have been accused of being turncoats, collaborators, rumour-mongers, even treacherous at some point of time, but never has our society had this “criminal” tendency. Even in our local discussions outside our mosques, in coffee shops, in public transport buses we have always with a sense of pride discussed that the culture of rape prevalent in mainland India has never been imported to our state in general and the valley in particular. But what is happening around our society now at present clearly enunciates, is our moral degradation and collective downfall as a society. We have gone from bad to worse and are breaching new boundaries in our “filth accumulation”.
Earlier a number of crimes have been normalised in our society as if they are a part of our routine schedule. The element of profiteering, black marketing, hoarding in the month of Ramdhan by shopkeepers (vegetable sellers, grocers, butchers, cloth merchants, etc) who fast for 30 days, offer every single Taraweeh and then on the auspicious occasion of Lailat ul-Qadre beg for mercy has already received a social approval with the shopkeepers not irked by their conscience to stay away from such practices. Contrary to our business sect in our land, shopkeepers outside the valley offer huge discounts during their religious months, periods, festivals or occasion which gives a sense that how they respect the philosophy and value of such occasions. Here, it is heart wrenching and painful that our business sect increase rates more than the approved and legal fixed rates during the Festivals and occasions like Ramdhan and Eid. Similarly, the practice of corruption and bribery by other sections does not achieve a breakpoint at any point of time. Our behaviour with a routine stranger is abominable to say the least. We have lost our moral decency to talk, the art of conversation is missing, our arguments turn into fights and abuses and without even looking at who is standing on the other side we start shouting. Such “social degradations” unfortunately have been normalized way back in our society and we blame the conflict or somebody else for way too long for these problems. Blaming something of a political nature for something which is societal in nature is tantamount to comparing apples with oranges.
The threat lurking around like a tiger in ambush waiting for his prey is “normalisation of this heinous crime now”. It doesn’t take long before something is normalized and before it is relegated from front page news to page 5 news. When something is an exception and happens in exceptional circumstances, it gives birth to a reaction and a strong rhetoric-sumbal case being the example, but when something happens repeatedly over the period of time with one or two cases reported every single day, it just becomes a part of your life and you learn to live with it.
The month of Ramdhan is an entire month during which Muslims try to purify themselves, get closer to Allah, and grow in their knowledge, faith and morality. The fasting observed in Ramadan includes refraining from food, drink, bad language, and bad behaviour, hoarding, illegal profiteering and immoral acts. By fasting we become more sympathetic towards the poor and make charitable and munificent gestures towards the less fortunate or poor people. We come closer to our family, friends, and neighbours and inculcate a feeling of fraternity and brotherhood. The completion of such spiritual training is celebrated on the day of Eid ul Fitr. The question is that ‘Have we really achieved such salvation’ so that we could celebrate the joy and bliss of Eid.
Should we celebrate Eid and what? This question I leave to readers.