Even as the heart-wrenching gangrape and torture of the Hathras teenager who succumbed to the grievous injuries inflicted on her are reminiscent of the beastly Nirbhaya case of 2012, the callous treatment the authorities meted out to this violated daughter of India renders her more unfortunate. It is a matter of shame that she was even denied the dignity the dead deserve. The Yogi Adityanath government of Uttar Pradesh has a lot to answer for her hurried funeral in the dead of night, forcibly by some policemen, denying the grieving relatives this right. The ghastly turn of events is a brazen attempt to erase evidence and cover up the crime, covered as it is in the grime of an upper caste (the accused) and low caste (the victim) power play. Agitating further the incensed public is the death of a 22-year-old Dalit woman following her gangrape in UP’s Balrampur a day later.
These daughters must not only get quick justice but also be seen to have got justice with the strict laws enacted after 2012. It would be a bigger offence if they end up as just another digit in the expanding list of crime against women in this region. A National Crime Records Bureau report reveals the shameful fact that Rajasthan and Haryana accounted for the highest number of gangrape cases in 2019. With the conviction rate at a dismal 16 per cent in Haryana, it is no surprise that the epidemic of atrocities continues.
Justice demands an immediate rolling of heads of law enforcers and protectors as well as the fast-tracking of the case to penalise the guilty. Only an end to the impunity that perpetrators seem to be bestowed with will instil a semblance of feeling of safety among girls to live their lives peacefully, to study, to enjoy, or go about their routine errands and chores. Plus, the significance of a cultural shift from a misogynistic outlook to an egalitarian one — emanating from homes and society — cannot be emphasised enough. Sadly, such cases are emblematic of the hard truth that the shift to an upbringing of boys encompassing a respectful attitude towards girls is agonisingly slow.