The 20 Year Sentence Brings Rape The Justice It Deserves....But Will This Last?
This past week has made us question humanity, the extent of its barbarism and has brought to the fore the mind-boggling magnetism of self-styled Gurus that can evidently turn a whole populace blind like the story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin and the rats that were entranced by his magical pipe.
Much like in the legendary story of the Pied Piper, our very own Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh who also dresses in lurid, “bling” garb, traipsing about as a benevolent ‘do-gooder’ has been making thousands of people march to his tunes since 1990 when he became the head of the social group, the Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS). Armed with flamboyance and a theatrical persona that he flaunts in his many music videos and garish movies made to highlight his teachings, the ostentatious “messenger of God” who is ironically also known to have mocked Sikh and Hindu religious figures on a number of occasions, also has a large number of rape murder and castration charges to his name.
Karma decided to strike hard on August 25, 2017 when Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of rape by a special CBI court and on August 28, 2017 the great ‘Baba’ was seen groveling on the floor in the court room when a historic sentence of 20 years behind bars was meted out by the judges. A decade each for each of the two rape convictions.
There may just be a real God while we grapple with self-styled ones.
While we are still reveling in the aftermath of this historic sentencing, we do also have to wonder whether true justice will come through behind those steel bars. That there are enough politicians and higher-ups that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has tucked away under his belt and his done more than a favor or two for is not a hidden fact. So, the hope is that he is not able to buy his way in to a favor or two of his own in there. Or many. Director General of Police prisons, KP Singh has reportedly said that the Dera chief, (now prisoner number 1997) is being kept with other prisoners and no special treatment is being given to him. The hope is that this continues to be the case.
While this is certainly a huge victory for the malaise of rape victims in our country, the hope is also that this proves to be a turning point of sorts, not just for the ignominious issue of rape but also for the treacherous misuse of political power and muster that has been allowed to triumph too many times over right and wrong.
A case in point is the recent stalking by a BJP leader’s son Vikas Balara in Chandigarh who mercilessly chased Varnika Kundu in his vehicle in the middle of the night. It is as if the tag of belonging to a political party in any way becomes a hall pass for turning into savages.
And then there is our law and order that moves so languorously that perhaps it needs a prompt from the time leaps that our Indian TV soaps dole out at staggering pace. The letter that the woman wrote to the Chief Ministers of Haryana and Punjab narrating the ordeal that she went through at the behest of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was written and sent in 2002. A good fifteen years ago. Even the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati in 2002 who wrote articles about the Dera Sacha Sauda is a case that is yet to see the light of day in the form of a trial whose date is yet to be set.
Nirbhaya’s nightmarish ordeal in 2012 that further suffered at the hands of the court for postponing the trial of one of the accused on account of the interpretation of the term “juvenile” resulted in the implementation of fast-track courts in the country that would prosecute rape cases at a faster pace. However, the abysmal number of just 14 judges per million people for these courts has raised concerns on the fairness of these trials and the possibility of innocent people ending up behind bars. And as far as murder is concerned, there are no fast-track courts.
There is marital rape and others that occur in our country on a daily basis. While most are unreported owing to a fear of humiliation and marital rape having been declared legal under Section 375 of the IPC, the fifteen years it has taken to convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh does not provide any reassurance to those who do come out in the open. One such case was in 2014 when Vikash, a married man who intoxicated a woman, raped her and then fled, hiding behind this very shield of the legislation to wriggle his way out of the crime.
While fast-track courts have heralded a quicker pace for many past cases one can only hope that the pace is maintained in the future. But, just this reactionary effort is not enough. The need of the hour is also for governments and administrations to devise proactive measures to nip the plague of violence towards women in the bud. Corruption and political muscle cannot be allowed to seep in to the legal machinery that can uphold the honor and integrity of women.
Other Self-styled gurus, too need to be scouted out and their unending crimes need to be similarly exposed and made to bend to the might of the law.
Only then will more women of our country be emboldened to resist fear and appeal for justice. And only then will the treacherous reign of Pied Pipers blinding our people and turning them against each other finally come to an end.