By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
In our country, I have heard stories of atrocities and human rights violations in the past but never have I heard or expected such horror, bigotry, and criminal conduct that were so brazenly displayed by government officials in Hathras.
The cover-up and prejudice that district officials of Hathras showed made me wonder which crime may be greater, the brutal rape and murder of the Dalit girl of Hathras, or the unabashed attempt to hide the dirt under the carpet by Hathras district administration. Such egregious behavior has been displayed by Distract Magistrate, his subordinates, and the Police that there should be a case filed against them under the SC/ST Prevention of atrocities act but unfortunately, in the caste saturated environment of UP, there isn’t. I have never heard a rape case where the victim’s family has been denied the right to perform the last rites of their deceased daughter, government officials are more concerned with muzzling the matter rather than ensuring the justice to the victim and her family. One doesn’t expect such behavior from senior government officials and yet, right from the very top office in Lucknow to the junior-most Police constable in the district of Hathras are involved in suppressing the voice of a bereaved Dalit family.
Prime minster of our country never misses an opportunity to talk about or display his background from the underprivileged section of society and yet under his very leadership, in a state where his party holds power, unspeakable horrors are being committed against Dalits and women. Why is New Delhi silent on this? Does the deceased Dalit girl not have the right to be cremated as per proper customs of the Hindu faith? Had the district administration have responded in the same way had the girl belonged to an “upper” caste community?
What kind of society are we becoming? Do we want an India where women neither have dignity in life nor in death? Daily we hear cases of rape and sexual assault and it’s always the same lackadaisical attitude that our governments and leadership displays in cases of such atrocities. As a country and society, we should use every means at our disposal to voice our anger and outrage over such heinous crimes, only then Central, State, and local governments will start taking the safety of women seriously in this country. The incident in Hathras is a question on our national conscience; we should not let our collective anger turn into collective silence.