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TalkPoint: Has rape been politicised in Unnao and Kathua?

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Eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped and murdered in Kathua, Jammu & Kashmir. The Jammu Bar Association initially tried to prevent the filing of the chargesheet, alleging “innocent” Hindus had been accused of a crime they didn’t commit.

In Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, a teenager was allegedly raped by a local politician. Her father mysteriously died in custody. The politician claims it is all a ploy to damage his reputation.

ThePrint asks: Has rape been politicised in Unnao and Kathua?

The BJP has turned the Kathua issue into a communal situation

Ravinder Sharma
Spokesperson, Congress, Jammu & Kashmir

The Bar Association of Jammu, which has organised the ‘Jammu bandh’, has actually raised a number of issues. The Kathua murder and rape is just one of them.

They claim investigations at different levels have yielded different results. Also, they feel innocent people have been targeted as perpetrators of the crime.

But let us be clear, this is nothing but the BJP playing dirty politics. The bar association sought to raise three issues with the dharna, the others being the Rohingya settled in Jammu & Kashmir, and encroachment by tribal people.

Then union minister Jitendra Singh of the BJP joined the call, saying there was no harm in a CBI probe into the rape. Following that, two other BJP ministers supported the move.

As far as the Congress is concerned, this is a crime against humanity, against society, and against women. The victim deserves justice.

The BJP is part of the government at the state level and the Centre. They should be doing everything in their power to ensure that she gets justice, instead of impeding it.

Their dirty politics is turning the process murky. They have supported and encouraged the agitators. We condemn this kind of an attitude. BJP clearly runs with the hare and hunts with the hounds.

In a press conference, they even alleged that one of the members of the investigation team was involved in the rape and murder of a Hindu girl. They have turned the crime into a communal issue. This government is a threat to the social and communal harmony of the region.

We stand against the mood and manner in which the BJP has played the issue. We support the bandh call, but our views on the rape of the minor girl are very different.

The culprit in Kathua must be punished, it’s the unnecessary implication of Hindus that’s being challenged

Virender Gupta
Spokesperson, BJP, Jammu & Kashmir

To call what is happening with the ‘Jammu bandh’ communal politics would be gravely wrong. The bandh isn’t just about one rape, it is about a host of issues that plague the people of Jammu.

These include the fact that certain communities (Gujjars etc.) can take possession of any piece of land in the Jammu region without being questioned, and the concerned authorities cannot ask them to vacate the land. This is tantamount to illegal grabbing of government land.

Furthermore, the Rohingya and Bangladeshis are being allowed to settle in and around Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts because of certain elements in the government. They pose a great challenge to the security of the region and the state. A number of cases were reported where the Rohingya were involved in illegal activities. They have been allowed to settle in these areas with a clear motive to change the demography of the Jammu region.

In the recent past, there has also been a great disparity in the selection of candidates for various posts by the State Public Service Commission. For 2,000 posts, only 200 candidates from Jammu were chosen. The representation of Jammu in the state civil secretariat is already merely 10 to 15 per cent. The people of Jammu feel like they are being excluded from government posts.

And, finally, as for Kathua, the people felt that the crime branch did not properly investigate the rape case. They were biased against the Hindu community. A good number of people of the Hindu community were investigated and tortured, which has also led to the migration of people from Rasana village, where the episode happened.

The people have lost faith in the investigation team. There are reports that the crime might have been committed by members of the same community (as the victim). The people demand that the case be handed over to the CBI for a thorough and unbiased investigation. This way, the real culprits will be punished, to whichever community they may belong.

It is the state government that is making the matter communal.

None of us is here to defend the accused, but others are trying to communalise our demands

B.S. Slathia
President, Jammu High Court Bar Association

A clear manipulation of facts is underway in how the protests have been approached. There are certain people who want to communalise the issue and the Bar Association of Jammu & Kashmir.

None of us is here to defend the accused. We are lawyers; we fight for justice inside and outside the court. All of us believe that the culprits should be punished, but not innocent people. There should be a thorough investigation of any case before a decision is reached.

The colouring of the bar association as a communally guided entity is the work of the government and its stooges. People in Jammu want to live a harmonious life, we are just trying to ensure that. Sure, if asking for the eviction of the Rohingya makes us communal, then we are communal. But no one is making that argument. That is what we have been demanding from day one.

As for the rape case, a chargesheet has been filed in court. The matter will now be dealt with by the judiciary. The accused parties will be punished.

Using the Kathua case to project a distorted image of our ‘dharna’ is a politically motivated move to discredit our other demands. We are all fighting for justice and the genuine aspirations of the people of Jammu.

 The rape and murder of the 8-year-old is a carefully plotted hate crime to intimidate a minority community

Junaid Mattu
State Spokesperson, JKNC

While every incident of rape is horrific and a slur on humanity, drawing an equivalence between the horrific incidents of rape in Unnao and Kathua is unfair and comes with the grave risk of ignoring the growing tide of communalism in Jammu.

The rape and murder of 8-year-old  was a preplanned, and a carefully plotted hate crime perpetrated to intimidate and eventually uproot the minuscule Gujjar Bakerwal minority in Rasana, Kathua and then other parts of Jammu.

The fact remains that the abduction, her rape and murder was planned and executed by a group of people who owe organisational allegiance to a particular political party. This was evidenced by how two cabinet ministers and MLAs of the ruling PDP-BJP dispensation violated Section 144 imposed by their own government to brazenly participate in rallies organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch to shield the culprits. Ministers in the PMO, MPs, ministers and MLAs coming out to obstruct an investigation as heinous as this is unprecedented and should put the entire nation to shame.

Concerted efforts are being made to intimidate, harass and uproot the minority communities from various areas of Jammu and her dastardly rape and murder was a politically patronised hate crime towards this demonic end.

In the gunda raj of UP, women will lose any spirit they have to fight back

Ranjana Kumari
Director, CSR

India is grappling with a crisis of rape culture because of the political class. They have supported, connived with and protected rapists.

In Unnao, the MLA Sengar who has been named by the minor rape victim not only personally engaged in this heinous crime, he has also been protected by the patronage of U.P.’s chief minister. Rape of a minor requires it to be charged under POCSO Act. The culprit must be arrested immediately, then the court can decide whether he is guilty or not. In this case, not only was he not arrested, but the FIR was not filed for over 10 months.

They even stooped to threaten the family. The situation became so dire that the father was beaten to death in police custody. Suspending the police officers is mere eyewash.

The whole jingbang of the party is instead trying to create a story in the public that they were a family of criminals. Even if she was from a criminal family, does that give them right to rape the girl?

She was so intimidated that she couldn’t even name Sengar in the FIR. She has named four other men including his brother.

The crisis that women are facing is not only rape but gang-rapes, especially of minors. The problem is only deepening in our society. Instead of law enforcement acting well, they connive under political pressure with perpetrators of the crime. The central government hasn’t even said a word to condemn the incident.

Unfortunately, this is complete lawlessness. This is the gunda raj of U.P. and police conniving together. At this rate, women will lose any spirit they have to fight back.

A powerless, poor rapist is easy to convict, it’s tougher to book powerful perpetrators

Deeksha Bhardwaj
Journalist, ThePrint

Rape is always political.

In the case of Kathua, the incident was targeted at a particular community, to “dislodge” them from their own hometown, according to the police chargesheet. Eight-year-old girl was brutally assaulted, murdered, to achieve this aim. Rape has always been used as the most potent weapon of spreading fear. It reduces women to objects, and makes men feel incapable of protecting their own families.

Rape is always about power.

In case of Unnao, a young woman has alleged that she was raped by a known political leader. Despite many attempts, including assaulting her father and brother, they couldn’t intimidate the young woman to not file a complaint. Instead, the police filed bogus charges on her father and her uncle. After the father died in custody under mysterious circumstances (due to septicaemia, says the post-mortem report), the rest of the family fears for their lives.

SITs and CBI investigation are a distraction. The question is, has anything in India changed since the widespread outrage in December 2012? Hardly. What followed instead was a spate of cases involving womens’ rapes in moving vehicles. As recent as May 2017, a young girl was brutally gang-raped in Rohtak, her skull bashed in. In November, another student was gang-raped in Bhopal. Where is the outrage? Where are the special investigation teams? Where are the death sentences?

The collective catharsis that is achieved by setting up an investigative team is easy. It is more important to address the fact that since 2012, since Jyoti Singh, rapes have only increased in India. Convictions are at an all-time low. What’s worse, most of the victims are children.

Kathua and Unnao are not politicising rape. The incidents have brought to light the ugly side of Indian politicians and officials. A powerless, poor rapist is easy to convict. The tougher challenge is to book the powerful who can manage to control the narrative.

Compiled by Deeksha Bhardwaj, journalist at ThePrint. 

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  1. Politics of Rape

    Its very easy for rape accusations/crimes to draw all-around condemnation and outrage. We are a conservative society – so even sex within inappropriate relationship is a big taboo for most of us. So imagine our outrage when we are confronted with a crime of forced rape – We feel as if we have been personally violated and bruised – due process be damned, we just want to hang that rapist to the nearest pole. Nothing less would satisfy our bruised sense of justice

    That is what yields lots of people power, and outrage power to rape accusations. One can instantly manipulate public opinion and demonize the accused by merely crying rape. And in politics, many people see that as opportunity to take out their opponents.

    All they have to do is to politicize rape crimes, and blame it on their political opponents and build their politics around who from opponent party did what and how it was handled by the authorities etc. Parade victim families in media, take out vigil marches, put everybody in government on defensive – you know the playbook

    It does not take long for rapes to become a political tool to tarnish political opponents, create electoral advantages, jail leaders, eject ministers and police officers, topple elected governments

    When Rape can yield so much political power, it can not be contained merely to random incidents of rapes – rapes can also be staged and framed to manipulate people opinion and political process. Jehadi political factions (including Feminazis) would see in it a quick and easy short cut to silence opponents, gain power and advance their agenda

    Like suicide-bombers, jehadi political establishment can easily find the willing who are willing to sacrifice or endure the humiliation for their political cause.

    Such politics has infiltrated in some sick states. But lets not spread it to all other healthy states.

    Many a times, media takes isolated local crime and than gives it a national and global coverage, engineering national and international outrage – in the process, It creates fake narrative that such crimes happen all over India and that all Indians are nothing but bunch of gang rapists and that India is rape capital of world. It lowers India’s standing in the world – and you know which party specializes in such politics. So please do not become its unwitting participant

    Wait for all facts before jumping to condemnation band wagon. Try to learn other side of story that media would not tell you.

  2. To be honest, everything is politicized in our country. From marriages to crimes to change in laws, everything !!

    • That’s exactly what happens in a Nationalist Country, India Never was, is or will be a Democracy.

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