WRITTEN BY: Urmila Chanam
“Don’t tell your daughter she cannot go out alone at night. Don’t restrict the clothes she wears. Teach your sons better.”
A minor girl studying in class 11 was molested by 20 men over 30 minutes while she was coming out of a posh club in a crowded street of Guwahati’ s GS road publicly while everyone either watched it or joined in! The teenager had gone to celebrate a friend’s birthday party at the Club. It happened after all her friends left and she was catching an auto back home when at 9.30 pm she was targeted by the mob. Hundreds of people looked on, cars whizzed past her and no one came to her rescue as she was dragged by several men who were all laughing and enjoying at her plight, slapped her, pulled her, tore her clothes open and ruthlessly molested her. Defenceless as she was, she cried for help and she cried in humiliation and helplessness. One man slapped her several times while she fell down on the road while others laughed and took pictures of her.
These men who violated the human rights of a girl, who is technically speaking still a child at 16 years old, are men who feel a girl coming from a club at night justifies their treatment meted out to her. In India, most men feel a girl’s place is in her house and not outside. They smashed her as if she was some toy, a play doll. They enjoyed as mute spectators, laughed and grinned as the miscreants played with the innocent soul and tore open her clothes. They see a girl as some sort of a doll to fiddle with, to twist and turn, break and bend, smash and slash. This is injustice. No one came to her rescue till the time a senior journalist, by the name, Mukul Kalita who happened to pass by, stopped the men and rescued her with the help of police who by then had arrived at the scene. As per reports, he also got some blows from the mob and the police also had a tough time in controlling the mob.
The incident would have gone unnoticed but for the footage uploaded on Youtube on July 10th. It sparked outrage across the country, highlighting the increasing crime against women.
Public pressure finally forced the police to act, and on July 11 &12th four arrests were made, although the main accused named Amarjyoti Kalita is still roaming free. Eleven people have been identified by the police and efforts are on to trace the others involved in the crime. An NGO put up hoardings showing the pictures of some of the accused in Guwahati on July 13th. “We have put up hoardings in prominent places and at all the bus stops in the city. The basic objective of putting the photographs of the culprits is to help police to bring them to book and to create awareness so that such things do not occur in future,” said Avijit Sarma of NGO Assam Public Works.
Members of the National Commission of Woman have reached Guwahati to take a stalk of the situation determined to bring to book the culprits. Several civil society organisations said they would take to the streets of Guwahati on Sunday the 17th July to protest against the incident.
Just when the public outrage and the police seemed to be heading in the right direction of nabbing the accused, a new turn of event takes place when a RTI activist and Team Anna member, Akhil Gogoi, claims that a reporter of News Live TV Channel, which shot and aired the footage on 11th July, was the main culprit. He also informed that Amarjyoti Kalita, the main accused, is a friend of the reporter. “They went to the bar in the reporters Hyundai car. They are being safeguarded by the owner of the TV Channel who is a Minister”. Gogoi claimed that he had a CD about the News Live reporter’s involvement which he will hand over to the police and media.
Whole India sees this video clip of a mob molesting a girl. Shot in full view of an open camera, moving right in the middle as the mob pulls her face and says-“ Show it to the camera!” The editor turns it into a sensational story, moral policing and how pubs and bars contribute to such incidents, and how his reporter got beaten and still got the footage. But from what is emerging from the statement of the girl, and the CD given to the police by activist Akhil Gogoi, the reporter was acting fresh with the girl in the bar after having a few drinks with his mobster friends. When she turned down his advances she was pulled out of the auto and lynched. There is evidence of reporter telling the mob to strip her. This news channel is owned by an Assam minister and there is little hope of nabbing the accused. Whole of the country is fooled to believe what they see but no one sees the real story, that it was deliberately done at the behest of the reporter and the editor hawking a false TRP boosting story. Nobody has even asked the police if they have recorded this reporter’s statement.
You have to be blind to not see how well the footage is shot while hardly anyone from the mob attacks him, as his editor plays out a story for everyone to buy. The editor of News Live Channel has been reported to be tweeting how every channel in India is calling him for the footage.
This gets uglier by the hour and you can see what is the status of a girl in India. When the Police Chief of Assam, Jayantha Chowdhury said that the police were not an ATM machine, dispensing instant service, he was voicing the attitude of the police towards the rising crime against women. They lack commitment towards the cause of protecting women and are unable to rise to the urgency of the situation. Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram retorted to such a lax statement when he said, “Every incident of molesting a woman is condemnable….anyone who tries to make light of the incident is condemnable.”
It’s sad to see some sections of public opinion on social media attribute this crime incident to the girl and not the miscreants. One senior lady professor says, “I think the girl is as responsible for what happened to her. Who told her to go to a club and come home at 9.30 pm!” This misplaced value system is also the reason why these crimes are increasing every year and why the accused go scot free while the victims suffer all their lifes.
Time will tell if all the accused will be penalized by a jail term or will the power and political connections of the minister who owns NewsLive Channel in Guwahati silence the voices of the thousands of protesters who are marching on the roads of the city today. What about the hundred odd people who were mere bystanders and mute spectators that night on July 9th outside Club Mint, and the driving cars that whizzed past her without offering help or calling the police? Will they not be penalized as well?
We need a strong law against molestation and rape, preferably a life imprisonment. These men who destroy the life of an innocent girl should be ostracised, and banned from public life. They should not be employed. We also need to change our perceptions and stop blaming the victim. A victim needs an embrace, acceptance and our support and not a question on her integrity.
While the whole country sees another crime against a woman, this time a girl, I wonder who will be next. In a country where the rape cases last year recorded stood at 24, 206 and molestation instances at 42,968, there is a sense of insecurity among us now. Today it happened in full view of hundreds of people on the main road of a crowded place in Guwahati city, earlier this year in January it happened outside Sahara Mall in Gurgaon, in October last year two young men were beaten to death by a mob in Mumbai while trying to protect their women friends. The question of the hour is, WHAT IS THE STATUS OF A WOMAN IN INDIA TODAY?
We are living in a mock security. It happened to her, it could happen to you tomorrow. Don’t be too confident. At least not yet.
Link of the footage: