The rape of a three year old girl at Tirgam has touched off widespread protests in the Valley. There has been expression of anger and outrage across the political divide. The protests have continued for the second consecutive day and this time once again the students have been at the forefront of the campaign to seek justice for the victim. The sense of deep outrage that has swept through the Valley has gone some way to make up for the three day indifference following the rape.
This is refreshing considering all such displays of the anger so far have been reserved for the atrocities perpetrated by the government forces. And which is right. The Valley has witnessed appalling human rights violations over the past three decades. And far from being taken to the task for these violations the security forces have at times been awarded for indulging in them. Sometimes, the officers who have helped perpetrate them have gone on to enjoy promotions and awards. And this is true for the atrocities right from the Pathribal fake encounter of five innocent Kashmiris blamed for the massacre of 36 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora to the use of a Kashmiri Farooq Ahmad Dar as a human shield in 2017. Human rights excesses like these together with the lingering separatist struggle has made Kashmiris inherently distrustful of the state. Naturally thus any human rights violation by the state forces triggers the strongest reaction.
At the same time, crimes in our society perpetrated by one of our own attracted less attention. This often politicized our reaction to the excesses. Our outrage was charged to be selective which unwittingly differentiated between the crimes committed by different political, social and armed groups. But the rape of the three year old has snapped us out of this complacency. The people have genuinely been revolted by the horrible crime forcing the government to take up the investigation of the crime with the seriousness it deserves. Governor Satya Pal Malik has called for a speedy probe and the leaders across the political divide have sought an examplary punishment to the culprit. Also, police have now found out that the rapist is not after all a minor as was certified by the head of the Islamic Educational Trust.
Unlike the rape of the eight year old girl at Kathua last year which was sordidly politicised and whose investigation and trial has been marred by negative interventions by the political parties, the probe into the Tirgam minor’s rape faces no such hurdles. As such, the police have no reason to prolong the investigation. The culprit should receive the exemplary punishment to check the crimes such heinous nature in future.