Unnao and Kathua

How were the accused easily acquitted in bomb blast cases and how was the right wing put under a serious scanner in Jammu? On the face of its, things are pretty simple to explain.
Unnao and Kathua
File Photo

Unnao and Kathua may not rhyme but they do well harmonise when seen in the light of the right wing rhetoric against minorities and women. 

Paradoxical scenes

Two paradoxical scenes are unfolding at the same time. A few days ago the accused in the Mecca Masjid blasts of 2007 were acquitted by the judge. The National Investigation Agency did not produce enough evidence against the accused. Most of the accused belonged to the right wing Abhinav Bharat. The latter was also accused in blasts at Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, among other places. A large number of eye witnesses turned hostile, until the moment the case against the accused turned out to be weak, and the accused were acquitted by the judge (the latter resigned on the same day). 

On the other hand the right wing is in the dock with respect to the rape case. The BJP initially refused to move against its members in Jammu. In fact whole society was sought to be manipulated in order to cover the heinous crime. After some time the ministers had to resign. The condemnations followed the condemnation by the Prime Minister. Everyone appeared to be falling in line, even the disgraceful Head of the Bar Association in Jammu, who acted like a hired goon of the right wing.

Apparently, the two scenes seem paradoxical. How were the accused easily acquitted in bomb blast cases and how was the right wing put under a serious scanner in Jammu? On the face of its, things are pretty simple to explain. Ever since the BJP led government came to power, the NIA has gone slow on the "saffron terror" cases and taken to the slowness to its logical conclusion, i.e. showed the accused way out of the prison into a free world of saffron. And the Kathua rape case is not yet within the domain of the NIA. Hence, the stage has not yet come to go for the rescue of the accused.

The longer this paradox continues, the greater is the hope for the victims and their families in the system of justice. And the faster the paradox disappears and the Kathua case goes the way of Mecca Masjid blasts, the lower will the image of justice fall. However, there are some pointers already. The Abhinav Bharat Group was not even very close to the ruling party. In fact, at one point of time they were disowned by the BJP as belonging to the lunatic fringe. If the party goes to such length in favour of them, what can it not do for the men who are part of the inner core of this political party? The current focus on the case notwithstanding, if the past is anything to go by then it is just a matter of time when this case will go off the radar and is buried under the "evidence" in favour of their innocence. Let the light go off the case and then the agencies will do their work to guard the loyal men of the party. Afterall, if Kunanposhpora can be put under the carpet why it should be difficult to forget about an unknown Gujjar girl?

Kunanposhpora and Kathua have one big similarity. At both places rape was used as a weapon to degrade a community, an ethnic group. At one place an ethnic group was sought to be cut to size, and push into submission. At another place, another community was the target, to show them that you and your women are at our mercy. Indirect emasculation of men and sexual subjection of women are age old tactics to bring entire communities to their knees and submission of the mighty and powerful. One more similarity is waiting to occur. Kunanposhpora has been covered up, Kathua is only a matter of time.

Big ends

It is not that rape crimes linked to BJP are made bigger by media, the fact is that rapes committed by BJP-linked, supported groups appear to have bigger ends. That is, like in the case of Kathua, to scare an entire community into exit from the area. For the time being, this bigger end has been put to a halt thanks to an intense campaign from within India and abroad, and due to a lot of bad press for the ruling party. Even as that is happening the family and the community living in the vicinity of the tragic site are under deep fear. For it is well known that the focus on the case will not stay for too long, and once the public imagination moves towards another sensational case, the Gujjar Bakarwal community will have to come to terms with the aggressive majoritarianism in Jammu. The future looks now bleak for the community in the absence of any systemic guarantees against such heinous misadventures. Already the community has received threats, alongwith that of the Rohingyas, to be ready for a repetition of the massacre of 1947 Partition. Whatever, the motivation for the public campaign against the accused in Kathua case, there is something to celebrate about the imminent punishment to the guilty. But that is not enough in the long run. Until memories of public are replaced by the memories of the institutions, with adequate securities of law, such incidents will recur to the detriment of vulnerable communities.

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