Kathua rape : Who hardened my heart?

I write this with much shame. An 8 year old girl was …. I don’t need to say it. Horrible. It’s just horrible. I hope the killers hang. I have always been somewhat ambivalent about capital punishment, but when you see a crime of this kind, it brings out a primal desire to see retribution.

They should hang. No mercy.

However there is something else I am ashamed of. I have seen a number of posts on social media, both from “friends” and of course from “foes” asking to drop everything else : party sympathies, ideological camps, left-right-center and outrage.

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Sorry. I can’t join.

I am all for hanging the killers and rapists … not once but several times over if possible … but I cannot join the social media outrage.

And for that I am sorry. My heart has hardened.

A public outrage is a community activity. It is an act of solidarity between people. And for me to feel like I could join, I have to feel like a part of the community.

What does that mean? It means that when I stand next to you and demand justice, I have to trust that you would do the same if I was the victim. And in this case, I know you would not. I know from objective evidence that you would not.

Sorry, I cannot stand next to the ‘secular’ politicians, the biased media, the ‘liberal’ elite and Washington Post columnists and carry out my outrage. Because I know for a fact that you would not stand up for me if I was the victim, or in this context, if the victim was my daughter, my wife, my sister, or my mother.

There is a reason there is no outrage over the rape and murder of the 6 year old girl in Bihar. You know it well.

There is a reason the rapes and murder of minors all over Assam in the last few days are not being reported. You know it well.

It could be against a human being. It could be against a horse. It could even be against a random statue. If you can find a way to connect an act of violence to someone you see as “Hindu right” you will outrage over it. If not, you come up with things like “tyranny of distance” and “political context” to justify your lack of interest in the incident.

The liberal elite is ignoring the rapes in Assam and Bihar deliberately and they know it. And when I dare to question their deliberate silence, they scream “whataboutery” and try to shame me. Maybe 10 years ago, they would have succeeded in shaming me, but not any more. Congratulations, your cynical game has hardened my heart.

When a heinous act happens in Kathua, you go over triumphantly to the Washington Post, telling the whole world about the evils of “Hindu nationalists”. But an Islamic terrorist gets to be the “son of a headmaster”.

Don’t tell me they are treating it as a special case because Kathua was a hate crime and that there was support for rapists. First of all, I don’t trust your narrative. There are accounts that show that people, whom these self-declared liberals accuse of shielding the rapists, were protesting against other issues. In all likelihood, a strawman has been created.

However, for sake of argument, let me agree that it was a hate crime (and for that I want these monsters hanged, right away) and that there was support for the rapist — a rarity that has spurred our ‘liberals’ to treat it as a special case.

I literally needed to spend just one minute on Google and found out about this incident that happened just two months back (one month after the Kathua incident). A girl was pressurised to change her religion in Uttar Pradesh. When she refused, she was raped by four men belonging to a particular community. When police went to arrest the rape accused, local people, including a Samajwadi Party leader belonging to the same community supported the rape accused. This incident could not make headlines. This incident could not outrage the same crowd.

This is just one incident I could dig out after spending one minute on Google. Various similar incidents don’t even make it to news reports, because “moral compass” of our media doesn’t allow them to highlight such cases. So when the liberals tell me that it’s the hate crime they are up against and are not driven by some other agenda, they convince me as much as Hitler would convince me about the rights of Jews.

Make no mistake, it is not about saying one crime cancels out another. It is about why I can’t join the outrage of the liberal elite. Because there is a pattern in what they do, and what drives them. It is not driven by care for the victim. It is not driven by opposition to hate crime.

A boy in Bengal’s Basirhat made a Facebook post. Immediately, mobs start baying for his blood. The town burns. One innocent person, an elderly man, is already murdered. Liberal websites publish the name and age of the young boy who made the Facebook post, some even give the name of his school and the grade he studies in … making it that much easier for frenzied mobs to find him and murder him.

Washington Post columnists don’t care about that. Was that not hate crime?

A flower seller in Karnataka’s Moodabidri is murdered in broad daylight in the city’s market area. The next day, the 60 years old man who is the main eyewitness to the crime, goes missing and is then found dead. Big celebrity journalists write signed articles explaining why there should be no outrage over this crime. The guy with “moral compass” comes up with “political context” excuse.

Who hardened my heart? You did. Your excuses for not outraging on certain hate crimes did.

In the heart of Bengaluru city, a man gets his throat slit open because he is a Hindu activist. This is done by specially trained operatives from Kerala, who have received formal training in slitting throats open with one slash of the knife. They call it Operation Murghi Cut.

You don’t outrage. You tell me not to outrage. You are too busy eating your beef steak to worry about Operation Murghi Cut.

As a Hindu, I know that my life is worth nothing to you. If they slit my throat tomorrow in the next round of Operation Murghi Cut, you won’t give a damn. If tomorrow I was burned alive inside a railway compartment, you and your friends would come looking for someone to say that I had not paid Rs 2 for a cup of tea — and then you would implicate me in my own murder. My life isn’t even worth Rs 2 to you. Not even 59 of our lives are worth Rs 2 to you.

Unless I was a Dalit and the murderer was from a “higher caste”. Then, my dead body would be of great use to you. Then editors of major newspapers would jump for joy and tweet out : “Gayaa! Ab Dalit vote bhi gaya!” In other words, you would use my dead body for your Bharat Tere Tukde Honge cause.

A young Dalit scholar, with everything ahead of him, tried to commit suicide. Your people blocked the area and wouldn’t let the police enter for a long time. We will never know if it was too late to revive him. Because you needed a dead body to feast on.

Let me tell you: that young boy was my brother. You brainwashed him, your ideology destroyed his hopes and ambitions and finally drained his life. He wanted to be a science writer like Carl Sagan and you wanted his dead body so that you could do “Bharat ke tukde”. I will never forgive you.

I can never forgive that your people come to my community and distribute caps with caste names written on them, so that we all turn against each other. Your people dig up old British battles from 200 years ago and then give them a diabolical caste spin just so we start fighting again.

I am a Hindu. I am a Bengali. We have lost a third of our country already. In whatever is left, we are getting squeezed further and further. You laugh while the Bangladeshis overwhelm us in West Bengal and Assam. I know that you would like me and my people wiped off this earth.

I am ashamed that my heart has been so hardened. But it is you who has hardened my heart.

I am sorry but when I see a horrific tragedy like Kathua, it reminds me that if something so terrible were to happen to someone close to me, you would not stand by me. If I tried to raise my voice, you would shake me off casually, calling on me to stop “whataboutery.”

I am sorry but I cannot join your outrage.

Prolonged apartheid hardens our hearts. Every other day when I open Twitter, I see someone lying in a pool of blood in Kerala or Bengal, with dozens and dozens of stab wounds. That person was also someone’s son, someone’s husband and someone’s father. He was my brother too. You don’t care because you don’t think of him as a brother, possibly not even as a human being.

If today four European tourists were murdered brutally in Punjab, there would be an outpouring of rage. What if a British woman, a defenceless schoolteacher, was brutally assaulted by several men with sticks while she was riding her bicycle? We would all be outraged.

But in that fateful summer of 1919, this was not the case. The Indians who gathered at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919 were not particularly bothered about the assault that had happened on Miss Sherwood just two days ago. Their hearts had been hardened by the inhumanity of the British Empire that they had been facing for decades. And sure enough, on that day in Amritsar, inside the walled garden with the blocked entrance, they were met with the very same inhumanity.

I hope they hang the rapists and the killers, but I can’t join your outrage. My heart has been hardened. Sorry.

Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.

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