It has been quite a turnaround in the case about the rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl in Kathua. After being ignored for the three months and largely blacked out from the media, the case suddenly broke upon the national consciousness with all its horrifying details once the charge sheet was filed. Ever since it has triggered an outrage not only in Kashmir but also in India and across the world. Even the United Nation’s Secretary-General António Guterres has sought severe punishment for the killers. And on his visit abroad, even the chief of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde told the Prime minister Narendra Modi to ensure more safety for women.
In India, the details of the ghastly crime have galvanized the civil society in a big way. The people all over India have protested the crime, including even cricketing and Bollywood celebrities. In major cities, some really large protests have been held, in some cases, people have performed on the streets to draw attention to the crime. In fact, some videos doing rounds online have shown some singers musically expressing their horror.
In Kashmir, a new wave of protests has begun in reaction to the belated knowledge of the horrors that the girl had to endure in captivity. Almost every day since the charge sheet against the accused was produced, there have been protests in support for the justice for the Kathua girl. Every section of the society has participated in the protests. On Sunday, the shopkeepers in Lal Chowk observed one hour strike to press the demand for justice. However, the students have been most vociferous in their support for the victim. Almost every day over the past week, the students from various colleges, including the womens colleges have demonstrated against the Kathua crime and the alleged efforts to safeguard the accused. Scores of the students been injured in the process, some hit by bullets.
The state government has now closed tuition centres to tide over the runaway crisis. The decision to do this has become contentious. Students and their parents have taken a serious exception to the closure as this deprives them of an alternative opportunity to study. Hurriyat G chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has termed it as an attempt to snatch the right to education. The consequent situation has assumed the familiar complex dynamics attendant on most of the events and incidents in the Valley.
But one thing that needs to be said without any ambiguity is the overriding importance of the education for our youth. And so everything that ensures that the education is not hampered needs to be done. While protests over brutal rape and murder of the Kathua girl are understandable, it is important that these are not prolonged indefinitely, thereby affecting the education of our children. So, it is incumbent upon the students that they go back to their studies after symbolically expressing their disgust at the crime.
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