Thoughts On the Guwahati Incident

65 Comments

This happened a long time ago. A student of Class XI, I was going to one of the innumerable tuitions that the pursuit of what a middle-class upbringing calls success forced me to attend. The crowded mini-bus had slowed down to a crawl. There was some commotion on the road.

It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on.

A thief had been caught, and was being thrashed. I was on the side of the bus that was opposite to where all the action was going on. So I didn’t get to see the man being physically abused . Nor did I need to. Over all the din and gaalis and the sound of violence, there was just this one tear-choked voice of fear, clear in its extreme pain shouting “Maaaa Goooo”. The conductor was leaning out of the bus yelling “Beat the bastard to death”, like a soccer fan cheering his favorite team. Two men pushed past the conductor and jumped into the crowd to a murmur of approval from the rest in the bus as the conductor encouraged the spontaneous vigilantes with a “Give one on my behalf.” Perhaps seeing my face, the middle-aged lady sitting right next to me helpfully said , ‘These thieves need to be beaten up like this. The cops won’t do anything. Take bribes and let them go. The public needs to dispense justice.’ For a nano-second, I thought of helping the poor man at the center of it, if only to make that blood-curdling scream stop, but then of course I knew that was impossible. The instinct of self-preservation was too strong. I was not going to risk myself for a stranger. So I told myself “I cannot get late for tuitions” and just blotted the voice out from my conscience.

The recent incident of public molestation at Guwahati , the smiling faces and gentle camaraderie of the perpetrators as they ripped at the clothes of a teenaged girl, brought back memories of that day long ago, when I saw, first hand, the sheer joy that ordinary men and women, once the anonymity of being part of a mob has melted away their individuality and the fear of being brought to justice, derive at the utter debasement of the “other”.

This pleasure, I posit, stems from one of man’s most primal desires, that of exercising absolute control.

And it is never total unless you have reduced this object of control to a state of sub-human subjugation, something that is sought to be done by first stripping that person of what they own (looting) and then their clothes (the most intimate of possessions), in the process removing the last shards of personal dignity. Then they are subject to intense physical torture till a shriveling mass of flesh and bone they reduced to, utterly broken in spirit and mind.

You will read about this pattern repeated time and again (“was paraded naked by the villagers”, “set fire to their hut and looted”, ” was publicly beaten”) in multiple incidents of mob violence. This is exactly how those in power break down prisoners and “those that have to be questioned”.

Even in Guwahati, you see the perps smiling for the camera, holding the girl as a trophy up in front of the camera, where they are so caught up in the pleasure of increasing the humiliation inflicted by the knowledge that her state of shame is being recorded, to be circulated globally, that they forget (or don’t care) that their faces are also being captured on film. The intent, remains as always, absolute control and the looting, violence, molestation, rape and abuse are all tools to be used on the way.

Now in normal circumstances these base instincts of humans are kept in check and the beast stays inside, buried by layers of social conditioning and the fear of the law. Once in a mob, all of this dissolves. Not only does the perpetrator feel immune from the law, the very fact that everyone else is doing the same thing validates the actions that one knows instinctively is wrong. The primal instinct to debase the other now becomes justified as community “justice”. Teaching the “thief” a lesson because the police will not do it. Teaching this “girl” a lesson because she is possibly tipsy, and has gotten into a fight inside the bar, a most un-Indian-nari thing to do. Teaching this “woman” a lesson because her son ran away with a girl from another caste .

The reason why I posted was because I have been disturbed, as much by this incident as by the reaction to it. On one hand, we see, and this is of course not surprising, a rather concerted attempt to blame this all on “the pub culture” (a surrogate for the evil Western MTV hand, a convenient doll for sticking pins in), as if molestations do not happen outside “holy places”. Equally predictably, I see a focus on the victim (“Was she a teenager or a mother of a child?”) as if that matters. All this kind of blabber does, in effect, is to deflect the attention away from the underlying causes of such mob-acts.

And on the other hand, I see increasingly violent expressions of hatred targeted at the perpetrators of the Guwahati incident (“Hang them by their balls”, “Do the same to their loved ones”) on the interwebs, reflecting the same “community-fueled” righteous anger that drives mobs, an anger that provides a comforting cocoon for engaging in the most heinous and primal of behaviors. Now before one waves the online bluster as people idly venting, incidents of vigilante justice like when Aarushi’s father was brutally attacked by a man outside court or when politicians are being physically roughed up, to a crescendo of public approval, show that this glorification of extra-judicial street justice has real-world consequences.

What should be done is that the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and swiftly (just as how it happened in the London riots) and that and only that can be a strong disincentive for such incidents in the future. Nothing else.

 

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65 thoughts on “Thoughts On the Guwahati Incident

  1. All of this begins in the classroom. How about making corporal punishment illegal? Policemen slapping traffic violators, giving roadside punishments should be illegal/is illegal and the police department should be sued. Everybody should be given a strong feeling of confidence that their individual rights cannot be violated by state/authority.

  2. Strongly disagree. What law are you talking about Arnabda? What swift justice are you talking about? This is India for heaven’s sake, not the UK or the US.

    The reason why there are varying degrees of punishments available in the judicial system is because crimes can be graded into a variety of categories, heinous, high, moderate and low. And there is no doubt that what happened on the streets in heinous in nature. Only those who are mentally unstable can resort to such an absolutely filthy act. And this crime needs justice, swift justice. I am not extrapolating by saying their home members need to be subjected to the same treatment. I hope and pray no woman goes through what that girl has gone through, irrespective of what the cause of action was, and irrespective of what home she belongs to.

    You talk of swift justice, and yet, four days after the molestation, and the faces of the perps splashed across the media, whether print, written or electronic, only four arrests have been made. A lousy four out of the sixteen recognisable faces. Out of which I have seen links to the Facebook profiles of six or seven.

    Was the mob right in beating the hell out of the thief? No. Because his crimes are not of a nature which robs a man or a woman of his dignity.

    Would the mob be right in beating the hell out of these sixteen? Absolutely. They deserve no mercy. No mercy whatsoever. They should be thrashed to within an inch of their life. And left to die. Because that is where they belong. In the gutter.

  3. What a remarkable observation GB!
    What a wonderful observation GBBB!
    What an astute observation GBBBBBBBBBBB!
    What a sexy observation GBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB!
    What a tremendous sociological observation GBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB!

    You know..this is a watershed post on RTDM. Lot of people have belittled you as a masala writer, who is only good for writing books on Mithunda. But can they make this kind of observations like you. :) But this post instantly makes you the best Indian writer in English, and one of the best English writers in the last 50-60 years. I can visualize a cocktail party in heaven with you, Hemmingway, Orwell, Marquez, Nabokov, Rushdie etc enjoying cocktails together. You are a pure legend.

    Lesser writers would have written about the atrocity and how Indian men do not respect women etc. You are a man of a different class. You are right- many many people in India believe and support mob violence. Any motherfcker who tries to do so should be put in jail along with his other mob brothers. If a girl shouts for help, what is required is police intervention. If 50-60 people just beat up an innocent person, it is as bad as the rape case.

    The reactions to these are always funny. Think about it, rape is a heinous crime. But not as much as murder, right? So why would people not shout, “Lets hang this murderer by the balls.” You are the only person in India who has the balls to call a spade a spade on this sensitive subject. Most will not get it though. As if you have to meet their expectation of being anguished, you have to shout with saliva frothing at the corner of your lips, “Neuter them. Hang them by the balls.” Indian society is still a rather immature society. And they have a grand delusion of considering themselves ‘cultered’.

  4. Indian society will fully mature when GB is recognized as the father of the nation. Till the day we continue to worship MKG, we will continue to remain an immature nation.

  5. Very maturedly thought and wonderfully expressed..saw on fb that someone is blaming the journalist though I want to believe he dd the right thing ,better than being on 5th page news ‘journalist killed by angry molesters’..dont know when all thz will end

  6. Thanks for this touching post. The only “hero” from this sordid episode is Mukul Kalita who protected the girl like his own daughter.

    As Rishi Khujur and I continue to do our outmost (in spite of our limited personal resources) to help provide relief, rehabilitation and secure justice for female victims of rapes, gangrapes and organised sexual trafficking in Bengal (most such cases go completely unreported in the media), I can only state that it only takes a few good men and women to step in and help our sisters and daughters. The others can continue to wallow proudly in their rat-races, sense-gratification and lip-service.

  7. By stepping in to save the hapless girl in Guwahati, Mukul Kalita has emulated Sri Krishna who is the ONLY ONE who protected Draupadi while her clothes were being stripped off by the Kauravas in front of many silent onlookers in the royal assembly.

    Truly, the present-day King of India is like the blind Dhritarashtra, who is being remote-controlled by the present-day Shakuni and present-day Duryodhana.

  8. i wont disagree with you, but with the pace efficiency and reliability of the Justice system in India there is no deterrent effect worthy of avoiding such incidents. Shouldn’t the custodians of the law and order situation be considered responsible not just for the crime but allowing a ‘Payback’?

  9. Here is my observation, which I am sure all desis in USA have noticed. When i was back home in India, most of the times i saw a police man on the road was only when i took a walk very close to the station. And most of the times it was a constable with a stick. However in USA, no matter what I get to see well armed cops driving around multiple times in a single day. This may be because i live close to a university campus, but i have seen similar examples when i visited relatives around USA.

    So i feel, we need to drastically increase the number of Indian police and they should be highly mobile and armed like the cops in USA. The cops in USA keep driving around the neighborhood and the cop closest to an incident reacts first.Our cops seem to be rooted to the police station and need a lot of time to react. In the justice delayed and justice denied India, people will not stop advocating mob justice to who ever the mob deems guilty. This time it was a girl and the incident ended up on TV. Such incidents will keep repeating till the fear of the law prevents such mobs from attaining critical mass.

  10. Lord of the Flies.
    No redemption for humanity.
    Certainly none for India.
    Amputate all genitals at birth.
    Many problems solved with one scalpel.

  11. It’s depressing. That image of a burgeoning democracy complete with free speech and individual rights is moving farther instead of closer. I hope those people are punished soon and harshly—within the law.
    But if I may, there’s a minor issue that I think deserves attention. People are sharing the pictures of those men and even the video of the incident on Facebook hoping some of their acquaintances recognize the offenders. While this might have some benefit—it will certainly scare the crap out of future offenders—I’m afraid for those men who have the misfortune of resembling the guys in the video. They will be named and shamed. Even if they’re cleared later, an accusation of sexual assault is a conviction as far as reputations are concerned. Perhaps the media and the people should tread lightly and not practice vigilanteism.
    Instead, we must use the internet and the strength of numbers to force law enforcement to take action with due process.

  12. @Souvik Cant say about anything else.. but i will surely forget your suggestion…Oh wait! I already did!… there, I wont troll anymore.. goodbye.

  13. Good observation, anonymity does bring out the worst in humans. The clutch of “society” is removed and the beast feels free to do what it wants.But stangely it works both ways. The situation could very well have been that the mob beats a boy because of a trivial fight with girl.

    In general the beast just needs an excuse to get out and nothing more and it can not be justified either in the case of molesting a girl or beating the molester.

    A very thoughtful post indeed GB.Well played!!

  14. “Truly, the present-day King of India is like the blind Dhritarashtra, who is being remote-controlled by the present-day Shakuni and present-day Duryodhana.”

    What a comment by the legend Bengal Voice./

    Long time readers will notice as to how I have become more infrequent commentator here on RTDM. This is a situation that has been imposed upon me. Last year, I happened to be out hiking and went into a Himalayan cave where the world’s largest pseudo-secular meeting was going on. They were planning on how to capture Rishi, kill H2B2 and silence Bengal Voice forever/. I was spotted and put in the world’s most secret psuedo-secular jail, a place very close to where I can watch the activities of Dhritarashtra, Shakuni and Duryodhana. I am tortured, treated abominably and forced to read articles on how great Shakuni is and how deserving Duryodhana is on a secret subscriber-driven AM pseudo-secular radio wave. From time to time, I wake up in the morning and see RTDM veteran S standing in front of my prison cell, wearing spotless, starched kurta pajama, a Neheru hat and a religious book of a certain Abrahamic religion in his hand and with a smirk on his face. He continues to try to bribe me freedom in lieu of info about the great people. I continue to send him on wild goose chases. Nevertheless, he keeps coming back and tells me, “We will catch them someday.”

    I get only 20 minutes on Internet time a day, 10 of which go in reading Rediff comments etc. That keeps me sane. Rest 10 I barely read the new RTDM post. This has made me appreciate the vlaue of RTDM even more. The new constitution of India should be culled from RTDM posts. To those of you who are free, make sure you and everyone you know read every post ever written on this great blog. You will be a better person thru it and also do the ultimate social service thru this act. Cheerio!

    PS I am not GBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB

  15. All Idiot Talk About Incidents In Idiotland , first n foremost the north-easternerners should learn what is civility ,law n justice ! n secondly the men should learn that if they have ” balls ” they shall not ill treat the weak !

  16. All Idiot Talk About Incidents In Idiotland , first n foremost the north-easternerners should learn what is civility ,law n justice ! n secondly the men should learn that if they have ” balls ” they shall not ill treat the women !

  17. Lack of responses to this post prove that many people missed the depth and meaning of this post. Again, in 2112, 100 years from now, some professor will use it as a case study to discuss social history in our times.

  18. Its difficult to say what hurts more … the fact that we were far away from the incident and hence couldnt do anything about it or the thought that maybe even if we were present there , would we have had the courage to stand up and fight against the mob at the cost of threatening our own cozy existences and lives. As to a previous commenters’ reference to North East, i remember visiting Shillong as a child and being surprised by the number of women going to work in the morning and somewhere i have grown up to think that maybe being a matriarchial society made the place safer for women than the other parts of India.

  19. Wonderful! To be able to take a step back and react to the situation the way one should, needs a lot of maturity. Amidst all the “fun writing” that you do, this one will be remembered the most. I salute you for being so balanced with your views.

    Reminds me of Mumbai Meri Jaan and what Paresh Rawal’s character speaks when he arrests Kay Kay Menon.

  20. @ Great Bong,
    An excellent post.

    I completely agree with your observation, “What should be done is that the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and swiftly (just as how it happened in the London riots) and that and only that can be a strong disincentive for such incidents in the future.”

    Every day of my life, I see blatant violations of the law.

    At least 10% of motorists refuse to stop at red signals, leaving pedestrians, especially old, infirm & young people floundering at zebra crossings. I sometimes get honked at and jeered for stopping my car at a red traffic signal, when there is no policeman nearby.

    I rarely see traffic police (or any police) in the city where I live, which ironically is one of India’s best cities in terms of education, industry & lifestyle!

    From news reports, it appears that in today’s India, criminals ranging from the corrupt to molesters to rapists, with a little bit of shamelessness, wealth, health & some luck, can expect to spend a lot of their time free on bail, with only some years in jail as an undertrial.

    Infact, perhaps if Mr. Rajat Gupta decided to pursue his post McKinsey retirement activities in India, instead of a twenty year odd (or whatever duration) jail term, he would have faced a twenty year trial, living out that time free on bail!

    When the common people know that this is the situation in individual crimes, then why would they be scared to behave like predatory animals, when in the relative anonymity of a group?

    We don’t need stronger laws, we just need better implementation of existing laws.

    Strong law enforcement however encroaches on the ‘Mai Baap’ powers of a certain class of people. They have already had their wings clipped to an extent due to liberalization brought about by P V Narasimha Rao. Good law and order will further reduce what remaining potence they have left.

  21. I guess it’s a very normal and oft-repeated scene on the roads of our cities. We become superhero when a single, weak & powerless is getting a thrashing of his life for some innocuous crime, taking our own frustrations out on the poor sod, we will beat him black & blue to set it as an examples for others. But if by any chance the perpetrator is well-built and menacing looking, or in a group, most of us would look the other way and mind our own business.

    Long time back, travelling in a slow paced Tram in Calcutta for research fieldwork with the local team, I too witnessed a similar roadside commotion, some small time Pickpocket getting roughed up by the Educated Bhadraloks . As our tram reached nearer, one of the field interviewer jumped out of the tram, took his slippers off his feet and hit the guy on the face and head twice. Quickly putting them back on and rushing back on the tram, with a large grin on his face he said something in Bengali meaning ‘I too gave him what he deserved” (‘Amiyo Lege Diye’). All the others around us nodded at him approvingly and declared that it is the duty of the public to dispense the justice because the police and administration is useless. He was so proud of his act and for others in our group he was the hero for that day.

  22. The “hang them by their balls” is an emotional reaction and should be treated as such. It’s never going to happen here and no one’s going to do it. Our liberal guilt makes us stand up for the woman, but in reality a rape or a molestation victim is usually never avenged for in the way you are fearing. The worst that can happen (and it probably won’t) is people might beat up one or more of these perpetrators. And lawfully or not, they would have “had it coming”. They have “asked for it”.

    I might be missing the point here, but in a way, I feel, so are you….

  23. Hi,

    A Great article. A very blatant explanation of societal behavior towards any humanly unbecoming events. Simply perfect and indisputable reasoning. Besides this, let me add also the point that, the lack of trust in justice delivery mechanism upon the public. This provides adequate back-up support towards all this kind of mob atrocities such as, no one is going to take action upon the culprit, and no one is going to catch me as culpable. In an endeavor towards institutionalisation the Government must be the appropriate responsibility to attend to this, more than moral education at school hours.

    Regards.

  24. Although I appreciate the point you are trying to make, I see no harm in netizens calling for hanging those involved in the Guwahati incident by there ***. If we don’t have laws that can act as deterrent for perpetrators of such heinious acts, how is the law abiding citizen supposed to have faith in it?

  25. I am giving below a short, relevant excerpt from an article published on Rediffmail today, written by Nitin Gokhale, an editor with NDTV.

    “I am neither a sociologist nor a pop psychologist. But my guess is: a culture of impunity has gripped the society in Assam at large. The absence of fear of law among lumpen elements is particularly noticeable in the past decade.

    And that has happened because the police, at least a section of them, have preferred to turn a blind eye to increasing incidents of petty crimes since they had got into the habit of looking the other way when underground outfits ruled the roost in the ‘nineties and first half a decade of this century. Worse, a section of police have got into a cosy relationship with militants-turned-big mafia under the patronage of some politicians, further giving a fillip to the culture of impunity that has percolated down to the lowest strata of society.”

    I think this just drives home what GB has said, “What should be done is that the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and swiftly”

  26. For those of you who have not read, and it seems many of you have not, what GB has written in this post is the theme of “The Mine”, at least in part. Brilliant post and a brilliant book.

  27. I agree with GB on this rare occasion. This is basic government 101, if you’re going to bother with having a country at all, and one with a stable, functioning democracy. You have to have people PAYING TAXES so that the government can PUT A COP ON THE BEAT, so “no one steals your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street”.

    I can only shake my head at Indians who defend vigilante mob justice, on grounds that Indian society is not “mature” or is “uncultered”. God have mercy.

  28. (This comment is only regarding the examples stated in the post)
    This article states the obvious ! In a perfect world, every thief should be caught and punished based on applicable laws. If everyone was sure that the pickpocket who stole your salary/ pension or the thief who broke in and stole your life’s earnings would be caught, then they would just cooly call the cops and relax. But thats not how things work ! Also, its not just about the amount of money that the thief stole. What if the money was meant for medicines/ fees or some other life altering situation ? The post shows a lack of understanding of human reaction in different situations (focuses only on one aspect- brutality hidden inside humans). More like an ad for ..

  29. Hhunaeh,
    From your previous posts it seems you have not been in India for long. Otherwise you would have known that normal policing activity suffers due to the incredible effort required for ‘VIP bandobast’. Given the situation and the proliferation of ‘lal batti’ types, how can you expect more from the Police?

    In general, you will find money, frustration, and aggresivenes has all increased substantially in Indian society. Looking at the younger generation, and the indulgence/acceptance of wrongdoing from grownup’s things will get much worse.

  30. I am not blaming the police completely. I believe the government needs to put in a honest effort to improve the Indian police just like they are trying to improve the Indian defense and infrastructure. Everybody in India talks about investing and improving things like defense and infrastructure, but why not show a similar interest in improving the quality of the Indian police force. This is an investment that can actually help change mob behavior and crime rates in India. The much blamed “attitude of Indian male” will take generations to change and our generation arguing on the internet might never get to experience it.

  31. Policing is among the lowest paid and highest worked professions in India. I believe police personnels’ official duty hours ar 12 hours per day.

    We have had the sixth pay commission recently, for central goverment employees that has increased their salaries in keeping with modern lifestyles. I wonder if police officers’ salaries, is even 70% at corresponding levels?

    Therefore, we usually have less motivated people in our country joining the police force (not IPS, the state police constabulary) and then the work conditions, VIP Bandobast, the “Janta Hai Mera Baap (Paap?) Kaun Hain?” all help to further stress out the individual.

    I have tremendous respect, in fact am in awe of the police, at least in the state where I live and work, that they are able to maintain a modicum of deceny, despite their salary and work conditions.

    I find it very hard to believe that this is a mere coincidence, or oversight which will be addressed eventually. This to me is in the same category as population control, the more the uneducated and unwashed, the greater will a biryani or saree travel during election times, who wants to kill the goose that lays golden eggs?

  32. Really liked the article. The spirits dampen however when you say ‘prosecuted to the full extent of law and swiftly’. I’d need to be a non-pragmatic person and an optimistic fool, to expect law to do anything swiftly.

  33. Very thoughtful post.

    I had written something on my blog last week about Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series) and its heroine who fights back against those who wronged her, outside the confines of the legal system in Sweden. It was coincidental that my post was about vigilantes, too.

    I have more to say about violence against women. May I link to your post if you don’t mind? Thanks!

    In the absence of a functioning law and order system, extreme oppression can and will definitely lead to a backlash and a vigilante type system. The case of Phoolan Devi and the dacoits she led immediately comes to mind. When common decency ends and crimes can be committed in full public view, society will break down at some point. After all, something’s gotta give.

    There is another question – what about the individual’s right to self-defence and common people stepping in to defend the victim before the police can reach the crime scene? After all, if a gang decides to go on a rampage, raping and assaulting at will, any concerned citizen with a spine would jump in (though it may be extremely rare).

    Of course, such actions can never solve the problem of criminality in any society. Only a proper, speedy and fair law enforcement and judicial system can do the job as you have rightly stated.

  34. Just as a thought, if we actually did molest the female relatives of these guys, and made this a standard practise to punish all molesters, my guess is that very few people will have the guts to do something similar. You will of course have the hard core perverts and hardened criminals who will continue but the vast majority who do it simply because they feel they can get away with it, will definitely stop doing so. This might seem like collective punishment / punishing a person for another persons crime but think of how many girls will potentially be saved from being molested. A few women might bear the brunt for their male relatives misdeeds but hundreds of other (and equally innocent) women will be spared.

  35. What swift justice are you talking about arnab? this is a country where ajmal kasab is still being tried in court for a crime that was witnessed by millions across the globe.
    a rape is the most emotionally traumatising event in a woman’s life. and she is victimised even more by people who are sharing the video to show how ugly it was. emotional retort or not. 10 years in jail is not nearly enough for people who inflict another human being to so much physical and mental torture. Mob mentality is bad. yes. it does make riots possible, people do get instigated to have complete powers. but justice systems in india are not like Uk where london riots were dealt with immediately and well. Indian justice system is full of loopholes. Rape is a bailable offence in india where the morality of a woman is often questioned.

    how do you expect that to happen here? Men in india justify rape… and thats the truth. so what do you think is going to change that.?
    i for one cannot believe in a system that takes so long to even bring the so called justice to such criminals

  36. @Sagnik Ghose et al: Twelve out of the fourteen have been arrested – http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/in-guwahati-action-has-been-swift-but-questions-remain/

    This gross wild west mentality certain Indians have needs to stop. And Argumentative Indian is right. For what the cops (any government worker really, except top bureaucrats with their hands in the public till) get paid, it’s amazing that they even show up for work. That they even made the arrests is testament to how things oftentimes work when there is a critical mass of outrage and things are made public.

    Pay your fucking taxes, ensure government accountability, make sure the cops get paid.

    Jeez louise.

  37. also cannot BELIEVE the number of people recommending counter molestation/rape of the perps’ female relatives. WTF?

    what kind of scumbags are you guys? your fathers should have pulled out and ejaculated into a sock.

  38. Manytimes jealously, prejudice, grudge and revenge is reason.If they find victim weak & are supported by many, they start taking risk and behaving in cheap manner.Then the mindless crowd joins for fun.The crowd tries to take advantage and feels that their chance of getting caught is very small.

    Sometimes, its too difficult to take legal action due to lack of evidence. Everyone passes the buck to avoid the responsibility. Hitting back violently in measured manner, sometimes brings peace and sense. And more violence other times.

  39. ‘The Mine’ proposes the same ideology, absolute control. I do not think it was true then, neither now.

    Even in the book ‘The Mine’, only one man is consumed by the thought of absolute control, not all. I do not even agree that desire for absolute control is a base instinct in all humans. Every human does want to eke out a living fit for the Kings, but to do that by tormenting others is generalising to an extent of saying, ‘all that men want from marriage is sex.’

    Where, Arnab says that years of societal conditioning has put layers over our more barbaric instincts, he has forgotten that conscience is not layers of conditioning, but true realisation of what is right and what is wrong.

    Giving consideration to this analogy about absolute control being the base instinct, which surfaces under the mask of ‘mob’, why did only 30 men molest a girl on a street having more than 500? Why didn’t Arnab get off the bus and lend a few blows to the thief. Does he not have base instincts? And if he doesn’t, why does he conclude everyone else does?

    It is a case of haves vs have nots, and not in financial sense. Its the haves of social standing, of good up bringing, of basic decency. And from whatever I could glen from the media, all the molesters were either sweepers, or small time shop keepers; most who haven’t had an injection of culture in their formative years. They come from a social strata – a squalor of not just human waste but waste of humanity, where women, many a times, are forced to defecate in public; and there is no concept of debasing women because most women around them are crawling on a rock bottom of self dignity.

    If it indeed is basic human nature, why then is only India becoming the mob rape and molestation capital of the world? Why don’t we hear such incidents happening in the UK or the USA?

    It is nothing but the apathy of our Government toward its people, the annihilated socio-economic fabric of this country; the have nots who want to steal from the haves.

    Its not control, its disparity.

    PS: ‘The Mine’ has some glaring holes in plot line, and too much sex; else it was good. Much better than other literature on Indian book shelves, which would rather be on toilet paper than paperback.

  40. Arnab, even my first reaction was something like “these ba*****s should be castrated and left on the streets to beg”. Then I read your post and sanity returned. I had intended to congratulate you on this wonderfully sane post on 14th July itself, but somehow that did not materialize earlier.

    Justice, as delivered by a lynching mob, is no justice at all. When we have well laid out laws and procedures, what’s required is a bit of sincerity from the enforcers of law and fast track delivery of verdicts.

    Its true that the common, law-abiding citizens of India are a frustrated lot. We are frustrated because we see the powerful, moneyed & well connected criminals getting away with impunity, repeatedly. When do otherwise normal people become a part of the mob? When they have totally lost the faith on the 3 pillars of governance – legislature, executive and judiciary. And, the people who have been baying for blood on different forums, if you ask them to do it themselves, they will pull of a Sorcar-like vanishing trick in no time!

  41. @sapera: The police and the administration’s response have been pathetic, to say the least. The incident took place on 9th July, at around 9.30 pm, and on the main arterial road of Guwahati, the GS Road. The place, where it took place, is merely a kilometer away from the nearest police station, and also from the seat of power, the state secretariat. Yet, the police reached the spot after the hapless girl had been abused for more than 40 mins. Then again, they did not arrest anyone from the spot and were actually seen chatting with a few of the attackers! On Tuesday, News Live showed the edited clippings during their Assamese news program and Atanu Bhuyan, the Chief of News Live uploaded that same video to YouTube, from his personal account, on Wednesday, 11 July. The police and the administration only started to act after this was picked up by the national media and given wide publicity.

    I don’t know which part of the world you belong to, but this assertion – “For what the cops (any government worker really, except top bureaucrats with their hands in the public till) get paid, it’s amazing that they even show up for work.” – is grossly OTT. Clearly, you haven’t heard about something called the “Sixth Pay Commission”. More importantly, nobody had put a gun on the heads of these guys and asked them to join the police, and they knew about the salary and other benefits, that they would be entitled to. Having accepted these, if they cannot perform their duties, then its their f****ng problem, not ours! And, if you don’t get that, then that’s your bloody problem.

    Someone else was talking about the lack of arms for the police force. Well, Assam Police is one of the best armed police forces in the country, with the standard weapon for an armed constable being either the INSAS or AK-47. Even the cops manning the traffic junctions have 9 mm pistols as their standard side arms.

  42. Why wouldnt we be outraged, and suggest public lynching???… these men, rapists, murderers, terrorists whatever are walking around happily, just waiting for the public memory to fade into another IPL or a Pamela Anderson to come to Big boss and thats it… Thats all there is to it… people will forget… the case will go on forever and ever. no one is going to get punished… meanwhile the girls life is ruined… i dont always blame the media, but showing the video on youtube, and again and again on TV how has that helped her.
    This is as gandhian as it could be… lets sit quietly, justice will arrive in its due time… lets put faith in the govt that for the last 65 years has bullshitted us into believing this is a democracy. lets put faith on the police that gives a public statement that “these women are nothing but prostitutes who didnt get the payment”, lets also put faith in the court which says “if the woman doesnt have a good moral character, then her violation isnt rape”

    Sit back. wait for the next time some other a*****e violates you in a bus, road, train just because you have you were conceived with the wrong chromosome.

    lets also wait till the govt decides to increase the salary of the police wallas so they can start their duties… finally. And meanwhile wait for these rapists, molestors, terrorists to reproduce and teach their children that it is ok to do what they wanted because all of us are Gandhian… “when you slap someone, they will just push their other cheek forward, dont worry…it will be fun!!!”

  43. Outrage at the Guwahati incident is natural.

    Public lynching is not.

    Apart from being illegal, public lynching is also not an effective deterrent.

    IMHO it is mob violence usually indulged in by people who wish to control others, i.e. wield power, but can’t do so in real life.

    At the same time, inaction is also not an option.

    The challenge therefore, is, that as ordinary citizens, what can we do to ensure that the perpetrators are prosecuted to the full extent of the law and swiftly ?

    In years gone by, the mainstream media played a significant role in shaping public opinion and keeping up sustained pressure, acting as the voice of public conscience AND memory reporting matters of general public interest.
    Today ofcourse their role is different.

    Maybe the social media can have some impact?

    Maybe some of us can bring up this incident in some way, perhaps as a facebook page, after some time, to keep alive the public’s memory of the crime and its consequent outrage?

    I wonder if there are any other things we can do?

  44. This is something that i have observed in the police force of two different countries.

    Areas with a high number of problem centers like pubs need police patrols later in the day when drunk people are most likely to cause problems. This i believe is to prevent and deter crimes as much as it is to quickly react to crimes that have already occurred.

    Issue: The police force needs enough men to patrol the problem neighborhoods so that certain problems can be prevented or broken up within minutes of their start.
    Problem in India: Not enough people being recruited into the forces. India has a very low police to civilian ratio. If you look at the link i posted in an another comment you will see that it is one of the lowest in the world,well below the accepted minimum numbers.

    Issue: The cop on patrol needs to well armed. He needs to have the right to use deadly force. This way he can physically intimidate thugs from attempting anything funny.
    Problem in India: Our thugs are better armed and are in larger numbers than the cops. From what i remember, the beat cops in my city had a lathi and a whistle.

    Issue: The beat cops need to have cars or motorbikes to get around, so that they can patrol larger areas and increase the frequency of their patrols.
    Problem in India: Our constables are mostly on foot and more rooted to a central station.

    Issue: The beat cops need to be well connected electronically so that they can call for backup when faced with mobs.
    Problem in India: Again from what i remember, not all our constables carry walkie talkies.

  45. The brainless nature of a mob is well known and anyone who has seen seemingly educated people take leave of all reason when in a mob will always remember the terror of it.
    But that is human nature – it calls for periodical blood letting. The forces of law and order are supposed to suppress it but when as in India justice and law even when carried out takes ages – that fear is no longer there.

  46. Drunkards dont have much control.Bars without bouncers should be banned.
    News channels have been playing with life for TRPs. It should also be controlled.

    We should learn to fight legally for public good in a group.There is something called RTI and PIL. Use it.

    ——————————————————————–

    Dear GB, i have a request. Do you know any law guru ?! Research PIL, RTI, Judicial Activism etc. i want you to write a post on benefits of PIL/RTI/ Judicial activism and how it can be used to fight back. Give elaborate case studies and examples and sample models which can be used by common man.

    I understand, People have jobs and family to support. But if it done as a group effort and some funding can be managed by online donations. A model can be created to be used by common man.

    I feel country is suffering unnecessarily due to lack of knowledge abt law.

  47. i agree with the fact that public lynching isnt a solution… but it is in absence of any other solution. i more than shocked when i hear men saying things like “bhookhe shero ke saamne tandoori chicken rakh doge to kya hoga” (even though it sounds more like a movie dialogue) on a public forum.
    it hurts to say that i see no hope of redemption in such people… they disgust me.

  48. according to this post need to know the evry action of the crime so dat every individual can protect themself without the help of someone stranger around. So dat she can defend herself from being a victime of any shamefull scene at public or crowded place.

    In reality, people are lacking the knowledge of “Human Rights” , “Indian Laws” & “Helping Body’s / Organizations”. They need to be continuously informed abt these, so dat they can perform actions according to it / Indian Law; so dat they dont feel helpless at the time of need.

  49. you leave in your own world dont you? i mean what swift law are you talking when kasab is still not hanged?

    the same way they showed how the girl was molested, the same way the entire nation should witness these criminals being pelted with stones in public… even one such example would help curb a lot of such crimes especially if ppl see how gruesome and brutal the punishment for such offenses can be.

  50. ” perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and swiftly (just as how it happened in the London riots)”

    Is this even possible in India? No sir, even if all the perps get caught, they will get out in no time and when the time comes, they would have been dead of aging.

  51. @GB

    You need to be realistic when you deal with such issues. In case you are unaware of the magnificent ways in which the Indian Judicial system works let me give you some simple examples:

    >> A father-son duo convicted for killing 17 people and sentenced to death by the Supreme court of India had their sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

    >> People convicted for rape and murder of girls (6-10 years old) and sentenced to death by the Supreme court of India have been granted clemency.

    >> In many cities in India, cops are evaluated on the basis of the number of cases they successfully solve. Solution : When you approach a cop, in all probability they will not register your compliant so that they have one less case to solve. (Couple of years back there was an incident in Delhi: A dead body was found hanging from a tree in central Delhi. The cops were informed by the public and guess what the cops did? They fought over the area jurisdiction for 12 hrs while the corpse kept swinging in the summer breeze)

  52. The Haryana top cop in the sexual assault case got a 6 month sentence after close to two decades of legal battle, not mention the harassment meted out the victim’s family until now.

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