Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

–DC Holocaust Museum

There are few things that horrify us nowadays, inured as we are to the pain and suffering of others. Exposed to movies like SAW where people are shown having their arms pulled out of their sockets and to television images of men with half their brains blown off, a whole generation of violence zombies have been created for whom cruelty to human beings leaves as much effect as that of watching the blood of aliens being splattered in video games.

Of course there are times when people are able to rise above their apathy and ennui as in the case of the Priyadarshini Mattoo case and force the hand of justice despite the attempts of the high-and-the-mighty to twist it for their advantage. Those are indeed, empowering moments—-when we as a people realize that we are not as powerless as we like to believe and that the sons of politicians and policemen are not as above the law as they like to think.

Of course these moments come few. And far in between.

But even in such moments of hope, there are dark, uncomfortable realizations. The realization that whether in life or in death, we are not created equal. Sad though it may be, the press coverage that led to justice in the Mattoo case and a re-opening of Jessica Lal case is because of the profile of the victim and the accused—beautiful, educated, women butchered by the villainous son of police/politician. With a failed star caught in the crossfire. The media frenzy was as much about justice as it was about drama and good copy. Sadly so.

This glaring inequity becomes evident when once reads about this. An incident that happened less than 800 kms from Mumbai.

There was always a gaping silence in this village, even before September 29 when an upper caste mob, according to eyewitnesses, paraded a mother and her 17-year-old daughter naked, raped and killed them. Two other members of the family, brothers aged 19 and 21 too were murdered. Their bodies were dumped in a canal.

Thirty eight men have been arrested and they are being held under police custody. The gruesome incident occurred 780 kms from Mumbai, too far out it appears to muster national outrage. The news of this brutality did not enter the mainstream news in any significant fashion.

Why did it not? The facts (the details of the rape just too sickening) are shocking enough to provoke even the most jaded of us. The perpetrator here is not a spoilt politician’s son who knows that the law works for him. No it is an entire village.

Surekha, and 17-year-old Priyanka, a 12th standard topper, were paraded naked through the village. According to eye-witnesses, one of them was even strapped to a bullock cart.

They were then taken to a crude open-air theatre stage where, according to villagers, people yelled to the sarpanch to let them sexually assault the women. Meanwhile, Priyanka’s brothers, 21-year-old Sudhir and 19-year-old Roshan, were murdered. After Priyanka and her mother were raped, they too were murdered.

It does not take a smirking politician’s son to be smug about the fact that he will never be punished. An entire village’s male population is pretty sure about that too—-more so because these are poor people who are being raped —people for whom neither the police (because the perps are politically connected BJP activists) nor the press (because they are not newsworthy people) really care for.

Because if you look, the story is almost the same as that of Mattoo and Lal—police trying to cover up[kindly read the article to know more about this] , evidence vanishing , fraudulent post mortems. Some people have been arrested but it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that there will be no evidence to hold them: the police is taking care of that.

There is also another regrettable concomitant of an incident like this. The need to politicize. The need to portray this as part of a larger caste-war in India. Regardless of the fact that similar atrocities have been perpetrated by animals of various political hues on various castes of people, unified only by their poverty. [Caste and poverty are strongly correlated in rural India which is why incidents like this are always politicized as part of a larger Dalit genocide being perpetrated by Brahminical Hindus. However what makes a large section of people vulnerable to barbarities of the worst kind is their economic marginalization rather than just their caste identity]

All this finger-pointing and blame-apportioning ends up obfuscating the main point.

Which is: Politically well-connected men in collusion with the administrative machinery get away with the most barbaric acts of rape/murder taking advantage of civil society’s apathy towards atrocities committed on poor people in villages.

We can only hope that this changes. We can hope that the rape and murder of class-topper Priyanka, her mother and her two brothers will touch as many people as Priyadarshini Mattoo and Jessica Lal did. That the next round of frenetic SMS-ing and email forwarding, spots on CNN-IBN and NDTV , signature campaigns and other instruments of media mobilization be used to make sure that the entire village, which yelled asking for permission to rape the women, does not get away.

And that justice be finally served.

For all.

But will it?

69 thoughts on “Justice

  1. You hit the nail on its head. The drama is better if it involves glamorous people. And no, the crime is neither magnified or reduced in reality when committed on glamorous ppl.. it is just that people wont come out to support a Sakhubai… well poor thing.. shit happens you know.. .. but well priyadarshini matoo.. jessica lal.. what an outrage…
    But it would be better if it was known why the hell did thos bastards do such a thing..and the whole village as such. Am not able to open the times link here in office.. but will try to know why.. what the hell made them do such a thing… anyway.. now that the deed is done.. bring out the ropes..and hang each one of them. Till no one dares to do such a thing.

  2. Arnab, that’s the sad truth in India, and probably in many other places in the world.

    We can’t depend on the police or the judiciary or the media. In time everyone with the power to do something can be corrupted. Such events will become rare only if people like us stop saying ‘Why should I be involved?’

  3. I think a collective effort is required if we need to change things around here. I will keep in mind the story of the 17 yr old girl and her mother next time I write a post.

    In the meantime, you might want to look into this. Not sure if this news ever went out of Bangalore. The Gowda dynasty, like the Gandhi dynasty seems to be growing and how!

  4. Great Bong, I read about the incident in Sunday Times and felt sickened and sad. How can people be so cruel and worse, such cruelty goes unpunished. Do you know how we could help get these people justise?

  5. Arnab,

    First time you have written something of significance. Now you know how our “Free Press” works! Its not that they chase glamour or something,,,,,,its manned my a particular community and repesentrs that coomunity at expense of vast majority.

    You may ot agrre now …. just scan the news with objectivity as you did now you will find.

    Keep writing

  6. Hi
    I have found these events do come in newspapers (in some corner) regularly. However as you have pointed out they do not have the glamour value associated with them, hence these are not followed up. That these events happen is due to the belief held by some of the so-called upper caste in India. Some of them (including a few educated ones) believe that a so-called lower caste by his/her being born in lower caste deserves this kind of treatment. It is not only their financial status, but also the religious beliefs (in the caste hierarchy) held by most of the so-called lower castes that marginalises them. I think it is high time that people question these age-old beliefs. To give everyone an equal opportunity, it is essential that people believe in everybody being created equal regardless of which caste they were born in. Populist measures like reservations help only a few priveleged ones (many times those do not deserve it), what is needed is that strong lessons are taught to people who commit such atrocities. But with the media, the government and the police being obssessed with more important things, I doubt if such a thing will happen.
    Anyway I like the way you have written about this.


  7. In the movie Spiderman there is a dialogue which goes “with great power comes great responsibility”. I think this applies very well with the Indian media.

    I HATE watching news channels nowadays. I do. I do not consider discussions about Mika’s molesting Rakhi Sawant, or Salman’s controversies, or just about anything that you see in primetime in News channels as particularly informative nor socially relevant.

    Media is a source of information, meant to be unbiased and portray happenings as they are without any “glamour” element attached. I have seen totally unworthy events covered and much more important information left out due to lack of “glamour” element.

    It is indeed sad to see multiple parties in numerous channels discuss the molestation of Rakhi Sawant and ignore lot more gruesome crimes.

  8. c’mon man, its so easy to blame the media, isn’t it. Media just brings to you what you want to see. If rakhi episode is gonna get higher TRPs then that is what you’ll get.

    Tell me man, even if all the socially relevant news is shown all the time will it really help… most of our people find it too boring… they’ll rather watch saas-bahu

    PS: talking of rakhi did you ppl see Mika’s new song – “tune pappi kyon lee bhai”… too good (caught this bit on sahara news)

  9. Tragic and touching post!!
    This news first appeared in Jaideep’s blog around three weeks back. In this age of blogs, and participatory media, we should actually not be dependent on MSM. The media people do what they do best, trivialising non-issues and sensationalizing genuine reports. We can’t blame them for that.

    Communal or mob crime is as bad as individual crimes. It is important to punish all the perpetrators, supporters and those who try to defend this heinous crime.

  10. Tragic and touching post. This news first appeared on Jaideep’s blog around three weeks back. In this age of blogs, we should not depend on MSM to raise public awareness. The media is doing what it does best, sensationalising non-issues and trivialising serious problems.

    Mob violence is as brutal as individual crimes. It is important to punish all the perpetrators of this crime.

  11. Firstly, let me say that the incident is condemnable – no debate about it. Having said this, let me also agree with gaurav that the media does have its commercial considerations. And if that isnt enough, it does have its slant too. For instance, havent we all seen how atrocities against nuns and pastors are given front page coverage, but if it is found that the nuns were raped by people from their own community, the news gets hidden in the inner pages. And many such cases.

    My point is – that while I agree with your basic premise – the highlighting of such a case in this fashion has the danger of providing another stick to beat the Hindu community with. Yes, there are problems within – in some sections of the community – but by showcasing them thus, we could play into the hands of the pseudo secularists who are only waiting for such opportunities.

  12. I read about this in the Times of India but the gory details of the crime were not given and also it wasnt give good coverage ( bottom most article in an inside page) but all this is shocking and very sick .I really hope that the guilty are brought to book and hanged even if it means hanging the entire male population of the village

  13. Somehow, I am slowly drifting on side of Arjun Singh and his idea of positive discrimination in education.

    I don’t see any other way to emancipate the people, who are made to believe they are of lower caste.

    More than solving the problem of caste divide by implementing reservations ; lower caste (so-called) people feel a sense of JUSTICE; for a change lower caste people will feel that upper caste people are being punished for their caste status; else I foresee mass religious conversion, caste wars and social unrest in a country with GROWTH RATE of 8 % !

    Guys, finally its a 5000 year old stigma; if my memory is not cheating me, in B R Chopra -Mahabharta; Panchali did not marry Karan as he is son of a lower caste (at least she gave that reason )and also Karan was further discriminated as he was not warrior class. Yes holy scripture had character of Karan to make people aware of evils of caste system but 5000 years seems not enough. How many more years we require ????

  14. Sam bhai, first of all please understand the caste system…

    Our caste system is basically like a pyramid… brahmins at top, followed by warrior class, followed by trader classes followed by what we now have as scheduled castes…

    Agreed, this is all bullshit, but lets accept one thing, brahmins are at the top but brahmins alone are not guilty of all that is happening… In reality each one of these classes believes that it is superior to the ones below them… in my village in bihar, leave alone marriage, a yadav would not think of eating sitting next to someone from scheduled caste…

    I don’t know what happened in this case but surely the entire village is not made up of brahmins only… what generally happens is that people don’t understand that “upper caste” is a relative term… its simply assumed that upper caste means either brahmins or rajputs, where it might have been a skirmish between yadavs and dalits…

    what Arjun singhs reservation is going to do is the reward the same classes(the OBCs) and simply ignoring the fact that they too were(and still are) a part of same system… I can accept that SC and ST have been hard done by one and all, and they need all our support to come out of this social black hole… but why OBC’s? if we go at this rate we will end up having quotas for each community… the same caste system with some other fancy new name…

  15. @Gaurav
    You are right. The attackers were OBCs. But I don’t see any point in bringing OBC reservations or Arjun Singh into this debate. It was a caste violence, and the guilty must be punished severely.

  16. @Anoop Saha: Why stop at saying it was caste violence? It was violence, and must be punished. The same way it should be punished if the victim had been Brahmin or Ksatriya or whatever.

  17. Actually it’s not a question of caste. Caste may have been a dummy reason, but the main cause for such mob violence is the idea that

    1) When many people do something, it automatically becomes the right thing
    2) If I do a crime as part of a crowd, I won’t be punished as nobody can punish the whole crowd.

    Though it is difficult, we really need to crush the 2nd belief if we wish to prevent such shameful incidents in the future. And for that, we need to punish the whole crowd, as you said. Let’s hope that happens.

  18. This case has become ‘high profile’ a month after it took place so it will be better reported and perhaps followed up now, but many such cases are ignored by the media. The media is an instrument to deliver advertisers to people with purchasing power, and channels like CNN-IBN openly flaunt stats about how SEC A audience watches them more than other channels. Socio Economic Category A audience empathises more with Jessica and Priyadarshini because they are people like us: people living in South Delhi and studying in Delhi University. It could be us one day. But a village 800 kms from Mumbai? Ah, this is India, these things happen…

  19. Btw, I have pictures of the massacre on my blog

  20. And so, people take up arms to protect themselves. Some say that they live in fear of the dominating caste, the other side says that they are arming themselves to keep the ‘scum’ in place.

    There was the practice of paying ‘bloodmoney’ or weregild among the Vikings. The Sicilians are strong on the vendatta theory.

    In real life as lived in the countless villages of India, justice is a very very abstract concept.

  21. Thanks Shivam for the pics. They are just shocking. These incidents just remind us how less the interiors of India are conected. Justice is really a faith on which the stability of society depends. Its good that it is being so widely discused these days. Along with good judiciary, it is extremely important for a society that the justice is publicized and discussed, so that it sets example for others and the everyone learns a lesson.

    The problem is that even if the mentioned incident gets justice, this news will remain unknown to most of the other interior villages in other parts of India and similar incidents will keep on happening.

    Casteism is a bullshit, and favoring any caste is equally dangerous as disfavoring any other. Unfortunately, our lawmakers are the one who are most benefitted from casteism, so potentially we can never get rid of this.

  22. @Arjun: Thank you.

    @Kannan: Why did they do it? Do we really care? Probably a land dispute. The real reason is why they thought they could get away with it.

    @Sayon: We do get involved. Selectively.

    @Ali: Part of a wider malaise…yes had read that story before.

    @Rinku: Maybe the evil that exists in us…that comes out when lack of education and the absence of law collide.

    @Zulfiqar: Written something of significance as in agreed with you? In case you meant serious topics, I have covered many such in the course of two years.

    @Sudheer: This were OBCs going after SC/STs…refer you to Gaurav’s comment which is very apt.

    @Aravind: The media will say that its the people who want these kinds of news….if I carry this item and my competitor channel carries Rakhi Sawant’s interview, everyone will change channels over to my competitor.

    @Gaurav:  Agree.

    @Anonymous: hmm

    @Anoop: That they do surely.

    @Ravindra: Political bias in the media is undeniable….in this case since it was an OBC village going after Dalits they will downplay that angle….

    @Clairovoyant: But the police has already started removing evidence….they are denying rape occurred.

    @Sam: I do not think this is a case for Arjun Singh style reservations….again I agree with Gaurav’s comment right after yours.

    @Joy: True. And the crowd knows that noone will put an entire village away..

    @Shivam: Okay after that rant against media and their slavish attention to TRPs, you go ahead and blog-whore your own post [BTW I have posted some pictures], a post where in order to get more hits and “recognition”, you have posted pictures of the dead body of the raped lady, where her brutalized body is barely covered. A picture which as you mention Tehelka refused to carry. There was a reason for that.

    Journalistic ethics. Priyanka’s death does not mean that images of her unclothed body come into the “public domain”. Is that too much to understand?

    By posting such a disgusting picture (and spare us the reduced resolution crap) you have shown that there is no level to which reporters like you will not stoop to for cheap publicity/fame. Kindly also spare us the “I am trying to humanize the victim”. No you are not. Nobody needs to see that picture in order to empathize with the victim. Do you want us to believe that the people who stand and watch the splattered brains of a man run over by the train are empathizing? No, they are watching a spectacle.

    I had thought that Priyanka had been stripped of the last vestiges of dignity by those monsters. I had thought with her death, we could inflict no further hurt in her.

    I was wrong.

    I had not factored in the carrion feeders with the camera and the press pass.

    @Swati: People do not need to take up arms to protect themselves. If we did that, there would be no civilized society to speak off. We need stricter enforcement of the law…not everyone taking the law into their own hands. Please no Rang De Basanti solutions here.

    @Amit: Thanks Shivam? For what? How did seeing the twisted brutalized body of Priyanka in any way add weight to the issue? Priyanka’s body is not an exhibit for people to point at or say “Aha re…”…just because she is dead does not mean that her unclothed body becomes an object for public inspection.

  23. it is really appalling that people are not inclined to condemn this henious crime instead choose to comment on the matter of ash-abhi wedding plans (there are actually 35 odd pages of comment in this seemingly trivial matter of star wedding !! in rediff.com)

    Where are we heading??

    p.s: u can include Quentin Tarantino’s Hostel along with Saw. it is horrible and gross.

  24. @GB: You are correct !! The pics are too shocking and I would not have thought of taking pics in the first place – rather covered the body if I were there.

  25. GB,

    Really really shocked to say the least. Great that you put up this post, at least what we can do is to create awareness.

    Shivam: Disgusted! I will be civil on this blog and keep my thoughts on your post to myself. GB has put it as subtely as possible.

    GG: Please put up any update you can find on this. Any way in which we can help. Any fora, where if raised, it will make a difference. Even if 20 years too little too late in the coming, the hope for justice lives.

  26. This is really sad.

    The worst part is the corruption and each person changing his/her story and lying even when you know the other person knows you’re lying.

  27. @GB:

    “People do not need to take up arms to protect themselves.”

    Exactly – they take up arms when the state has historically failed to protect them. Which is the problem with the Naxals in Bihar, Jharkhand and AP.

    In the NWFP of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the power of the state never extended to these remote provinces. It required the concept of tribal vengeance to act as a deterrent against crime. Ditto Sicily, ditto Viking Scandinavia.

    The point which is being made, which I guess you would agree with, is that unless prodded by civil society, organs of the government entrusted with the duty to uphold the rule of law, have themselves got co-opted into the crime. And as a civil society, we need to get more involved if the law is to be upheld.

  28. I agree the media has forgotten that it has responsibility to fulfill towards the people who have their voices curbed by different reasons. Instead media is becoming a part though indirectly who are curbing the voice of powerless.
    I still think that we are millions of years behind when it comes to responsible media like BBC. Rajdeep Sardesai and Pranav Roy and Times Now are useless channels when it comes to give serious news. NDTV has beome an advertising channel for ppl like Shahrukh/Aamir when their big film is due. To some relief our News papaers (Not the times of India) are little better as ther readership has some brain. But the so called viewers of these news channels are even more brainless than those who keep brain aside while a movie like Rajababu! ( No offence meant to any movie viewer or producer!)

  29. Good stuff. Indian mainstream media often leaves a lot to desire when it comes to socially responsible journalism. They deserve to be chastised.

    Aside: why do you use not-so-relevant qualifications like ‘*class-topper* Priyanka’ or ‘*Brahmin* lady’ (in ‘Something That Happened’ blog): why not just ‘Priyanka the victim’ or ‘the cook’? Surely, a class-topper rapist or a second-ranked-in-class victim would not undermine the tragedy (or your point, for that matter).

  30. For one, every village has a bunch of gundas, irrespective of class, but inevitably affiliated to the ruling or influential political party in the area, who hold an unwritten fiat over the life and property of those unfortunate enough to stay in proximity to them. When considerations of caste politics enter the equation, as they inevitably do, everything else, like the horrifying nature of the crime, that two women ere brutalized and murdered at the collusion of the entire village, becomes less important because it gets shoved under the headline of caste-wars. Secondly, India hasn’t and I doubt it will ever evolve a system of witness protection. Third, forensics at the basic level are non-existent. Keeping in mind the financial constraints, I don’t want something out of CSI, but basics, like securing the scene of crime or photographing the area and the victims, can easily be done. But that would make a cover-up job all the more impossible, and a section of the police force is always more interested in the cover-up than the solving of the crime.Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Two last points. One, irrespective of NDTV’s good work in the Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Mattoo case, I think it was the friends and family of the victims who, being relatively wealthy and educated, took advantage of the RTI Act, and set the stone rolling. The media jumped in only because it was good story. Forgive me if i sound cynical, but my faith in the moral fibre of the media has always been weak. Priyanka, her mother and brothers do not have the advantages (and it horrifies me that I’ve to use that word about women who so violently and tragically lost their lives)of Lall and Mattoo…re:family and friends. Ergo, the lack of media outrage.
    Two, for all our talk of progress, the bodies of women have always been sites of contention and power struggle. If someone has to be hurt, the women of the household are the soft target. The sticks with which Priyanka was sodomised graphically and visually drive home the point the village wanted to make. And the slander makes sure that because the mother apparently had an affair (and ofcourse we know: like ma like daughter), she deserved to die. The villagers were righteous in removing the kalank of a kulta from the villag.

    Thank you once again for a lovely post.

  31. I might be wrong, but this was OBCs against SCs/STs and the OBCs are on the higher level in the caste hierarchy. The mob must have had some reason (an excuse) to commit such a crime and perhaps it is the caste of the victims. I am not sure what could be the reason for this, but I am sure that crimes like these, irrespective of who commits it and who the victim is, should be dealt with harsh punishments. (I feel this is required not as a form of revenge but to prevent such incidents from happenning in the future.)

    Even in the Matoo case, it was a public outcry which was in some way responsible for the final verdict. Perhaps in cases like the one you mention above will have people speaking out and action will be taken against those who committed it. Unless that happens, bloodthirsty mobs will find excuses to commit crimes like these.


  32. @ GB: Nothing related to the sad incident mentioned above, but on the second thought I have an issue over the your choice of words. Could you please tell me what do you mean when you say “object for public inspection” in your reply. Did you mean zooming in, saving and digitally enhancing the images? People view 100s of such mutilated image in the Holocaust Museum and they donot inspect them, rather feel for them. My first reaction was ofcourse “Ah re ..” and what if this would have happened to me or a close associate of mine.

    And rather unfortunately, Pictures do carry more weight to the issue. It was the Abu garib Pictures that shook the world. And mere prohibiting the show of picture would not help Priyanka, only justice can shroud her dead body. This is rather sad that this is so common that mere words donot remain effective enough. TOI has to write – “Another” rape story. Even “Holocaust” remains in our minds mostly due to those ghastly Pictures and movies, otherwise there are many more similar incidents in History books.

  33. @Aparna: True. It’s just that people consider Ash-Ab to be more important…..thats just the way the market works.

    @Amit: I am glad you feel so…seems many in the blogosphere have no qualms about it.

    @Ink: So it does. I will definitely keep my eyes open for updates on this case.

    @Swapna: Same story isnt it?

    @Sayon: Yes I agree to that.

    @Vishal: Again the media dishes out stuff that the people want. It is fine for us to remind them of their obligations as an arm of democracy but in the real world, they are businessmen who answer to their shareholders.

    @S.Pyne: The reason I mention “class topper” is because she was that. An achiever and there is no reason why we should not need to mention that. And I do not think that by mentioning it I hint that the life of the second girl/boy is any less valuable. It also amplifies in many ways the tragedy—- a courageous lady with a blind brother and a history of deprivation working her way up and a group of people, who perhaps angered at this very fact, unleash upon her a kind of barbarity that is meant to show people like her “their place”.

    As to the Bramhin lady the reason was my uncle referred to her like that only….a widowed Bramhin lady….this was an important adjective in the 50s….

    @Anonymous: And a nice comment.

    @Sudheer: Land dispute was the reason. At least it started out that way. I do not think of this as just a OBC vs lower caste. This is much more fundamental to human nature…the desire to invoke hurt and humiliation. It is what gives rise to ragging and why in Kolkata (and perhaps elsewhere in India) people  on seeing a thief being lynched by people, get down from a bus, shower blows on the guy, and then coolly get on the next bus and leave. No caste considerations here—just the desire to gain pleasure from the hurt and humiliation of another human being.
    @Amit: The reason why pictures are relevant for the Holocaust is because many people think it did not happen and they act as visual proof. Similarly for Abu Ghareb, the pictures were evidence—if they were not there, the US Army would have denied any such thing ever happens. Over here these are not the issues……the only motive is to get publicity and hits by posting shocking pictures. I do not think that the nearly nude, brutalized body of Priyanka is needed to move people….for those people who are *only* moved by that and nothing else, there is little I would want to say about them.

    I also wonder: if Priyanka can see this from somewhere up there…how would she feel at strangers looking at her nearly naked body days/years after she was publicly disrobed and killed.

    Probably she wouldnt feel very good.

  34. And now we have to read how Santosh Kumar Singh spent his first full day at Tihar after being awarded death sentence.
    Shame! Shame! Shame!. Shame on the media for putting forward such a news. Shame on the media for not giving proper coverage to the horrendouus crime which was done by this entire village. Shame on the Politicians and most of all Shame on the whole mankind who stupor to such low levels that there are no words to describe them( I say mankind because this is not the first nor will be the last). Also Shame on us, we educated people of India who maybe wholeheartedly despise such acts but let it pass off as just another village incident.

    GB, you have done your little bit by writing about it. I hope all these helps in bringing an uprising that makes everyone accountable right from that village Sarpanch to the CM of Maharashtra. I hope we will not have to wait 10 years to get these perpetretors the right punishment they deserve.

    I really wish that some Indian would take up the cause of this poor family and give them a shoulder in their grief because I think we can never give justice to this family because we cannot rewind the string of this barberic act and return their life an dignity. And its a Shame because I know its not going to be me.

  35. Dear Friend,

    You are right, Law is not a game. India is not a circus. People have right to dignity , modesty and fair work environment. Hostility of any kind is violence and should not be tolerated. When will citizens realise. There should be task forces and responsible citizen groups empowered to intervene in such situations.


  36. Unfortunately mob violence is rarely punished in India, esp if its against the less powerfull segments of the society.

    I dont think that the solution lies in generating media frenzies about particular incidents, news agencies etc can only do so much.. the caste wallahs will point out the castes of the victims and perpetrators, the marx wallahs will say the victims were poor, the feminist wallahs will say the victims were women and the TRP wallahs will say Ash’s cheeks are getting fuller – eventually people will tire and things will return to normal.

    I think the solution lies in creating a system where it isnt necessary for media frenzies to highlight what is actually commonplace injustice.

  37. Referring to your reply above, it is of course perfectly fine to *introduce* someone (i.e. when mentioned first time in an article) with her known qualifications. But why use subsequently any qualification that is extraneous to the discussion (‘victim’ was her real qualification here, ‘topper’ was not)? Such subsequent mentioning has repeatedly happened in both instances I have cited above. One wonders what exactly is the need for emphasis/reminder that a topper, in particular, has been raped.

    Isn’t any such qualification unwanted if one is arguing precisely against the media coverage of incidents that is influenced by extraneous qualifications of the victims (and of the perpetrators) of crime?

    Victimized state must be empathized with irrespective of the victim’s extraneous (with respect to the crime) qualities: glamour, merit, class, etc.

  38. @Suzi: Exactly. Neither you nor I will be able to give her justice. All we can do is write and that really doesn’t help a lot.

    @Rajeev: Citizen forces sound a lot like vigilantism.

    @Sudeep: Hmm.

    @S.Pyne: I would say you are being unfair in your criticism. The word “topper” is used twice in the post—once it is in an extract from TOI (which is not mine) and second one is mine. In other words, I have used it ONCE.

    Secondly I am not sure if it is extraneous to the discussion. Priyanka’s attempts at coming out of the traditional role society had pre-fixed for her may be a contributory fact for the carnage. This is not a few drunk people gang-raping a helpless girl: this is an entire village (including women) cheering….so there are deeper factors at work than simply lust. There is a kind of intense hatred at work here which cannot be explained as simply originating from a property disputes. And one of these deep factors could very well be: “How dare she try to raise her head?”

    The distinction between this and what the press does is that it ignores non-glamorous victims or victims with whom their readership will not identify with. I am not doing that. Do you think I would not write this if she was illiterate? However the press is loathe to cover people who do not fit into their template of “extraneous adjectives”.

    It is unfair that you try to paint me with the same brush as that of the press.

    Now as to the Brahmin widow….that’s even more ridiculous. I am telling a ghost story…and the way she is described is exactly the way that story was told to me. And I am sure you know that “bamoon thakur” and such terms of reference were used not so long ago as a manner of speaking and that was why I used the adjective. If people started telling ghost stories or any stories without the use of adjectives not germane to the main story, then there wouldn’t be much of a story.

  39. Well, I don’t doubt your good intentions at all. And surely there could be psychoanalyzable dimensions (like social power-equations) that might be at play here, which should be explictly understood. I guess I’m just trying to be picky (in the name of objectivity) here, nothing serious.

  40. The best way to assure action is for the 48 Dalit MLAs (out of a house of 288) and 8 Dalit MPs (out of 48) to take up this case. Isnt this why we have reserved constituencies ? HOw about stalling parliament proceedings until the administration assures action ? Isnt this the reason why Dr Ambedkar wanted reserved political representation for Dalits ? If they keep quiet, then his other fear, that only a separate electorate will do for Dalits, will come true.

  41. First of all I don’t agree that this is not a caste issue. Whatever might have been the motive of the mob; any issue in India gets converted to a caste issue if the victims and perpetrators are from two different castes… simple as that

    …and this is exactly why nothing is going to come out of it. Problem here is that this crime was perpetrated by people of just the right community.

    Had the culprits here had been brahmins and rajputs, this issue would have rocked the parliament, shown as just another example of high handedness of “upper castes” etc. All the MPs would have been wailing about the need to chastise the “tyrants” etc etc… With so much of focus the government of the day would have been forced to take some action.(even if it is to serve just as some kind of face saving measure)

    Now, when an OBC mob goes on rampage, if somebody thinks of any action against them, it is projected as action against the said community. The whole community closes rank, and whoever was responsible for the action is politically gone. Remember, despite all doubts about their count, they are the single largest vote bank.

    (Of course you might argue that the same would be happening with upper castes. And yes, it does, but the backlash and “hue and cry” in that case is at a much higher pitch. Also they are not really significant vote-banks except in certain pockets).

    Secondly, just think with a cool head. We all know that such a major incident has happened. There are all kinds of evidence (photographic, forensic etc etc). And still the police try to cover up.

    What do you think; they are doing it at instance of local goons?
    Its a NO my friend, its the govt that is trying to cover up.

    Its because not doing so would embarrass the govt. It will have to explain why its trying to appease the same castes. Uncomfortable situation huh!!!…

    Now what are the chances of getting justice when no popular politician is willing to lend support to your cause, and what with the govt and state machinery working against you.
    Your guess….

  42. Arnab

    I feel that the media, by focussing on the caste of the victims only helps on marginalisng of the larger issues – treatment of women, the way the police system works, lack of awareness [and willingness to respect] of basic human rights, and as rightly pointed out by you, the way poor suffer humiliation and repression at the hand of the rich and powerful.Even if the castes of the victims and the perpetrators were reversed, the crime would remain as gruesome. The plolitical system, for obvious reasons, will never do anything to help eradicating the very concept of caste system and such incidents will contuinue to be labelled as acts of ‘manuvadi conspiracy’ etc. etc.

  43. @realitycheck
    Even if the incident happened out of hatred towards a certain community, I think it is wrong to expect MPs and MLAs of that community(specifically) to take up the case. MPs and MLAs are representatives of their constituencies and not that of a certain community. I believe that casteist politics exists because we vote our representatives based on their caste and expect MPs and MLAs to stand up for ‘their caste’.

  44. Its so sickening to see the same things happening over and over again in India. Recently we people were on a upbeat mood,specially after the Mattoo verdict, which somehow makes us want to believe that at last justice can be finally achieved in our country. But we ignore the plight of the vast majority of Indians who are still shackled to the caste system, the injustice of a thousand years! This incident is so brutal and gruesome that its better kept under the carpet. We feel for Priyadarshini and Jessica kind of cases, because they are like us.We are linked by the same kind of background, environment, education and vulnerability. We want to see the guilty brought to justice in these cases so that we also can be free. So the candle light vigils, endless protest marches and the whole nation ( as perceived by us : the major cities) is shaken. The judicial system sits up, and sentences the guilty in a fast track court ( in less than a year).
    But what about Priyanka and her family? Who takes up their case? It was so pathetic to read the news ( in one of the various links that I followed from your blog ) that the father has been offered an assistance of Rs. 4.5 lakhs and promised a govt. job !!! Which govt. in their right mind can make such a proposition to a man whose whole family has been wiped out so barbarically? Couldn’t they have at least promised justice to him? Or is it so impossible a task , to deliver justice to a Dalit against upper caste landlords that the Govt. found it suitable to ignore it ? And what about the Dalit leaders and MLAs and MPs? Why is everyone so silent?
    But thanks to Bloggers like you, this thing is generating a lot of discussions, and hence the topic is alive. Maybe someone will pick it up from somewhere and turn this also to a national issue. But again I wonder, will it really help? Even if the whole village is held guilty and punished, would it prove to be a deterrent to thousands of others across India’s villages where the minimum punishment for a wayward Dalit is to have his wife/mother/or sister paraded naked through the village streets? It really looks like a lost cause to me.

  45. @GB
    Priyanka, inspite of all her hurdles in life was an acheiver and there is absolutely no harm in writing that she was a class topper, we should really applaud this fact again and again, Should’nt we?. Iam sure you would have written this post even if there was no mention about her academic background.
    Someone above rightly commented that the police isn’t really playing an actve role not because they are scared of those goons in that village but more so because they are not getting any orders from the Government. I think this case must be taken to the highest level and here I mean the CM because if he takes initiative things might fall in place.

    I know most of us would be glad to be of any help but don’t really know how to do it? But one thing for sure, unless some good soul takes up the cause its’s going to die very soon or may be its already a dead cause.

  46. GreatB, I only just read this entire page through. I realize this has been worked over to a point of no return, but I have just one point to make.

    You address Shivam above:

    … in order to get more hits and “recognition”, you have posted pictures of the dead body of the raped lady, where her brutalized body is barely covered.


    By posting such a disgusting picture (and spare us the reduced resolution crap) you have shown that there is no level to which reporters like you will not stoop to for cheap publicity/fame.

    Do remind me, GreatB. Were you not the guy who pulled me up a few months ago, and rightly so, with these words: Now you are attaching motives. If you recall, nowhere in our debate have I *ever* attributed any motives as to why you are being partial to [journalist] A. I still maintain you are but as to WHY you are, I have desisted in making any conjecture. Why? Because if I do, it ceases to be debate and becomes a “personal attack”.

    Fine words indeed. Thank you for the reality check I needed then.

    So would you please explain to me why you have now attributed motives (“in order to get more hits and recognition” and “for cheap publicity/fame”) to Shivam? And since you have attributed such motives to him, may I conclude that you have, by your own reasoning, made a “personal attack” on Shivam?

    Therefore, would you care to apologize?

    I am uninterested in any back and forth about this, nor about the issue of the photos. I am writing this here (possibly later on my blog) solely to make this suggestion. Yours to do with as you please.

  47. DilipD,

    I am gratified to see you going around asking for apologies for your friend. Now the difference between what I said and what Shivam does is this:

    1. Shivam, till a while ago, used to regularly send me links to his articles UNSOLICITED on my yahoo account.[I never asked him to send me links to his postings]

    2. Shivam did that on the Desicritics mailing list too..and I protested. To his credit, he apologized though of course I did not expect him to apologize.

    What these activities show is that Shivam aggressively promotes his own blog often in an unsolicited manner. This is why I can attribute motives of self promotion and “hits collection” to him because this forms a part of a pattern.

    I shall of course apologize to him when people like you stop ascribing communal motives to Narendra Modi or ascribing “the need to get at Middle Eastern oil and create business for Haliburton” as the reason for the invasion of Iraq. I am not saying they are not..just as I maintain why I think Shivam did what he did.

    Now as for me, if you can find events/incidents that have relevant history for the attribution of motives to me (As per the link you gave me) then do tell me that.

    As to you and your friends going about the net pointing out how the discussion of photos are taking away from the main point, here you are on my comment space attached to an article which I believe, was one of the first, to highlight the issue and what do you do?

    Do you even once refer to the dastardly incident? Do you comment on anything on the post?

    No. You ask for an apology for your friend. [Incidentally, if Shivam felt offended I would expect him to come and express his objection].

    In passing, while I am gratified by your love for your friend, I would say that going around “asking for apologies” is very very immature. Objecting to me ascribing motives is fine, Shivam maintaining that he did not do it for hits is fine too. Asking for apologies is not. Thats my opinion.

    And I am sticking to it.

  48. And I am sticking to it.

    I expected no less, GreatB.

    But you didn’t answer the question. Did you, by your own reasoning, make a “personal attack” on Shivam?

  49. Inadvertently hit “Submit” before I finished last comment … meant to add, I said I’m uninterested in any back and forth on this and I intend to stick to that.

  50. DilipD: I see you did not or did not want to understand what I said. It’s Shivam’s history of similar behavior that does not make it a personal attack…just as it is not a personal attack on Modi to call him communal or to call the Iraq war as motivated by pecuniary considerations (Though Sadhvi Ritambhara or Barbara Bush, if they blogged, could by your logic come to your blog and ask for your apology for calling Modi one or for criticizing the war in Iraq).

    One thing I forgot to mention in my last comment.

    Shivam came and said “BTW I have pictures on my blog”. My comments section, dear DD, is for responding to MY post, either by adding your opinion or objecting/agreeing to mine. It is not for promoting your own cause/blog. And if anyone does that then it is blog-whoring. And it is done to get hits. And I have the right to say that.

    This is totally different that the scenario in which I go, unprovoked, over to Shivam’s blog or send one of my acolytes over (as seems to be the practice) to post such comments for me. I did not. I objected to the promotion of his own blog on MY SPACE and that too when his blog contained, in my opinion, objectionable images and he was asking readers to visit his blog by using MY blog as his advertising medium.

    Of course I would expect no less from him. And for you dear Dilip, I wish I could even have a level of expectation.

    [Update: I am also not interested in any back and forth on this. I agreed with your post that the focus should be on Priyanka and the death of her family and not with people writing posts and counterposts. Unfortunately as we can see that you have not followed this very wise obeservation nor did you have one word to say about my post but a lot to say about my comment in response to a comment. Anyways, feel free to write whatever you want on your blog…..I wont be interested in a back and forth there too if you choose to write it. Cause I sincerely believe in what you said.]

  51. I have been reading Greatbong’s blog for 1 year now. Although I find your writing highly entertaining, none of them had moved me as much as this one…. and I feel compelled to voice my opinion. I consider myself to be a horror movie afficionado and I have watched numerous gory, bloody, gut-wrenching movies in my life. But never ever have I felt so sick to my stomach after watching a movie than I did after reading this post & articles related to this incident.
    I cannot fathom the state of mind of the dregs from the lowest echelons of all living creatures who lived in this village when they decided to snuff out the lives of these 4 wretches in this fashion. Caste rivalry and relatd hate crimes have been going on in India since ages & given the state of Indian politics, such kilings will go on till the caste system exists.
    My point is the MANNER of the killing. If these 38 cowards, with the mob mentality that exists in all cowards, had to kill the family, then why not just kill the targets. What had these 4 poor human beings done that they deserved to die in this pathetic, sub-human manner. If, God forbid, someone kills my family member, and I am given an opportunity to render punishment to the murderer, the worse that I can think of doing is hitting and hitting and then finally shooting the murderer with a high-caliber rifle.My mind just cannot understand just what had this poor family done to these 38 murderers that they were killed in this manner.
    And to me it is just not the 38 male members of the village who are responsible, the women, even children of the village should be punished en masse for not stopping those who eventually did the deed. My understanding is that the women were actually egging their men-folk on to do the dastardly deeds.And our great Government would doubtless prove our faith in its ineficiency to be true and end up doing nothing “due to lack of evidence”.
    To my mind, in such a savage incident, nothing less than an eye fo an eye would do. If this were a movie what would happen now is that all like-minded Indians would get together and collect funds (let’s say $50 per head for each of the people who commented on this post would give $3000 or Rs 1.35 lakhs). India is now the big destination of outsourcing for a lot of services and perhaps roughwork is also one of them. The money raised could then be used to raise “contract” on the neanderthals responsible for the crime and only then could we have JUSTICE.

    But, like I said, IF this were a movie……….

  52. @Captain Haddock: You are true, and I also had a similar feeling. I just wish that Indian Judiciary system was little more efficient, so that the poor and the weak could have trusted that little more. But that’s not true…especially when you see lawers lile Ram Jetmalani taking up the case of Manu Sharma, and then claiming that its a courageous work. I just pray that priyanka and her family members gets justice (in a reasonable time).

  53. Good post Arnab! The news report made me feel sick in the stomach. The police reaction, to the say the least, is nauseating. All I can say is that it’s very responsible of you to take this up.

  54. and perhaps, if implemeted well, the new police act may be part of the solution

  55. see the sad reality of dalit politics…

    two women are raped one family wiped out… not a single slogan from dalit politicians….
    something happens to some damn statue in kanpur… and pune/mumbai are on fire…

    irony is it???

  56. @Gaurav: You took the words right out of my mouth.

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