Kathua Shock Has Potential To Change The Course Of India

Srinagar—If the ideological narrative of the BJP government in New Delhi currently appears to have taken some beating, the credit goes to the public outrage generated by the rape and murder of 8 year old child in Kathua. And also to the rape in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh of a woman by a powerful BJP MLA. The incidents between them hold a mirror to the new India. In case of Kathua, it shows how an ideology can be used to sanction an unspeakable crime against an eight year old girl. Her only crime she belonged to a community against which this ideology sees itself at war.

So, the child ceased to be a child, and became a representation of a hated community. Whatever was done to her fragile body was in the perverted viewpoint of the perpetrators done to her community. The pain inflicted on her was thus a pain not inflicted on a body, or an individual or for that matter a child. For the rapists and killers she had ceased to be one. She had become a personification of an alternative and otherized way of life, a theology, a language etc. So her mutilation was tantamount to the obliteration of the enemy, disproportionately overestimated in its power in the depraved imagination of the perpetrators.

This has rightly caused a mass outrage across India and the world. A Change-org petition for justice for the child has got around two million signatures. World’s major newspapers have taken note of the crime.

Wrote The New York Times: “The sense of national crisis today is because Indians feel a rising urgency to either counter this ethical collapse or to capitalize on it in the run-up to the next election. Mr. Modi came to power in 2014, and four years into his term, religious and cultural bigotry stands mainstreamed in Indian society.”

In Unnao, it was a different kind of rape. It showed that a party which in opposition had worked up outrage in support of Nirbhaya was no different in power from any other party. The rape by its leader would have gone unnoticed and been hushed up if the victim hadn’t tried to immolate herself outside the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence. In fact, the Unnao rape, in part, helped bring also the Kathua rape into spotlight as it would have been difficult to highlight one rape and forget another and several fold more ghastly at that. And between them, the two rapes brought to the fore the two sides of the new ruling creed. More so, the Kathua rape. In case of the 8 year old child, it was the newly acquired force of this ideology in all its menacing dimensions that bore down on her tender body and appallingly sought to get away with it. And it nearly succeeded in doing so.

Would such a state of affairs make any difference to the political climate of the country? It could. The year ahead is crucial. In a matter of months, the country would be in an election mode and the incidents like the one in Kathua and the largely uneasy state of affairs over the past four years would certainly play their role in shaping the public opinion. India is once again at a fork in the road; it will be for the majority of the people to decide which way they would want to go.


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