The rape of a three year old girl at Malikpora, Tirgam by a fellow villager has stunned Kashmir. The chilling crime which was committed in the holy month of Ramazan has touched off protests in many parts of the Valley. People have hit the roads in large numbers seeking exemplary punishment to the culprit. But in a shameful twist to the incident, the principal of the school, ironically named as “Islamic Educational Trust” has unilaterally given a clean chit to the accused by issuing him the certificate of being a minor. This has revolted the conscience of the people already in pain over the crime. The principal, in a sense, has thus become a party to the crime and he should be taken to the task for trying to cover up the ghastly act.
That said, the larger society too hasn’t acquitted itself well. It took protests by small groups of people to awaken the society, as also the leaders to the crime. Perhaps, if it weren’t for these protests, the horrible incident may well have been ignored. However, belatedly though, the people in the Valley are now conscious of the enormity of the crime. A hartal has been called and observed. Now, once again, the people have taken centre stage, rising above all kinds of divides to protest against the crime and demand justice. Once again, students from the colleges and the universities have come out as seekers of justice. The condemnations by the leaders have followed – albeit it took them three days after the crime to issue the statements. Also, one fact that stands out is that the condemnations by the Hurriyat leaders have followed at an individual rather than institutional level.
In case of such horrible crimes, the timing and promptness of the condemnations matters a lot. Not doing so, invites instant comparisons with our responses to crimes of similar nature in the past. For example, in case of Kathua, our institutional and the public reaction was far more forthcoming and sweeping than in case of Tirgam crime. The crime is a crime, whether perpetrated by a member of another religious group or someone from within our own community. And here the crime has been committed by someone from our own community and it is of the nature that in some aspects is more brutal than the one at Kathua.
A lesser outrage from us helps the political vested interests to exploit and deepen the minor differences within our community. It is thus incumbent on us as a society to express our disgust at the rape of a three year old with same sense of shock and outrage as we did that of the Kathua victim. We have to collectively ensure that this child gets speedy justice unlike the one at Kathua. Not doing so doesn’t qualify us to demand it in case of the Kathua victim.