Among the reasons why there are so many running sores in the body politic of India is the manner in which the highest policymakers of the land have deferred to the “professional wailers and breast beaters”, who loudly protest any action by the authorities, no matter how justified. The weapon of choice for many of them is the PIL, which has over the years been used to great effect to punish men and women in uniform for the “crime” of restoring peace in the Punjab and seeking to replicate that feat in Jammu and Kashmir. It is easy to throw verbal volleys at soldiers and police personnel, ignoring the fact that both spend much of each day in situations where a momentary loss of attention could cost them their lives. There has been a howl of protest from armchair “human rights warriors” about the shooting of four individuals by the Telangana police. These armchair critics of the unformed personnel in the country forget that the four men had demonstrably shown their inhuman nature. Their leader had confessed to his own family that he had killed the unfortunate veterinary doctor, except that he said it was because she was hit by the lorry he drove. The evidence is overwhelming that the four were indeed guilty of the horrible crime of rape, torture and murder that was committed that dark night off a lonely passageway. Their own confessions were graphic about the horrors that were inflicted on the young lady, once she fell into their clutches as a consequence of their puncturing the tyres of her motor scooter. Yet several of those who ignore the victim and channel their compassion only towards the perpetrators of gruesome criminal acts continue to pretend that it was doubtful that the Telangana police caught the right culprits. They say that the “system” ought to have been the channel of choice for meting out justice, forget the fact that the “system” in practice allows several guilty persons to escape, while it often takes decades to reach a conclusion about guilt or innocence. The individual who inserted an iron rod into the helpless body of Nirbhaya seven years ago was freed on a technicality within a short period since the crime was committed. Reports that donations have been received by him since have yet to be investigated. Other perpetrators continue to cheat the hangman’s noose, to a continuous stream of tears and anguish from the devastated parents of Nirbhaya, who seem to have been forgotten even by those who were vociferous in their support when the heinous crime took place in Delhi in 2012. If justice continues to elude the survivors of the Nirbhaya rape and murder, which was an open and shut case if ever there was one, who can be faulted for having less than total faith in a system that stands by while billions of dollars get looted from banks, corruption in public services takes place in a rampant manner in some parts of the country, and the processes of justice take so long? Even in the Ram Janambhumi case, closure may once again get delayed as a consequence of the appeal filed by the All India Personal Law Board against the unanimous Supreme Court verdict on the matter. Should the appeal get admitted and another SC bench hear and decide on the revision petition, who is to say that yet another appeal will not get filed? The lack of timelines and finality in the legal system is a matter that cries for attention, yet is left untended.

Just because they wear uniforms and risk their lives in defense of liberty and law is no reason why society should be indifferent to the lives of police personnel and the military. They too have a right to life, rather than be subject to restrictions that act as a death sentence in encounters with criminals and terrorists. In that dark night, two or more of the four desperadoes who had committed a gruesome sequence of rape, torture and murder sought to grab the weapons of the police. Armchair warriors believe that the police personnel ought to have allowed themselves to get killed by the desperadoes rather than react swiftly. In the process, the four were killed. To paint that as a tragedy rather than the reality of rape and murder in India is to indulge in the theatre of the absurd. The contrast with the UP police is stark. Of the two who raped an innocent girl in Unnao, one was not even arrested, while the authorities were so slack as to ensure that the other got bail. This individual made sure that the victim was doused with petrol and set on fire. Such an action brings shame to the UP police, who are exhibiting their incompetence to the whole world. The two perpetrators need to be put on a fast track to accountability and made to pay for their crime, else no woman in UP will feel safe. Unnao is the real disgrace, not what took place in Telangana. The way in which copious tears are shed for the guilty even while the victims go unmourned shows that a sizeable section of our society suffers from the Stockholm Syndrome of loving the perpetrators and thereby doing gross injustice to the victim. Such anti-social attitudes need to be challenged and changed. Only swift punishment will ensure that women are safe in this country rather than the prey of beasts in human form.

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