Posted by Agnivo Niyogi
In solidarity with Mother Superior from Ranaghat
On Saturday morning – 14 March, 2015 – I was horrified when I received a WhatsApp message from a friend. My faith in humanity was shaken. A 74 year old nun was allegedly gangraped in Nadia district of my state… How beastly can someone’s mentality be to assault a mother! I was moved to tears when next day I read the nun said she forgave the criminals who did it to her. “Forgive them Father, they do not know what they did” said Lord Jesus on the Cross; only someone belonging to the Church could say this for her assaulters.
The incident obviously invited political repercussions across India. BJP, on the backfoot over rising cases of attacks on minorities – specially Christians, was desperate to counter West Bengal government. Without even an iota of evidence, the State President of the party blamed TMC men for the heinous crime. Mamata Di rose to the gravity of the situation, and like a true statesman ordered a CID probe within hours of the incident. She was in constant touch with the Convent while Derek O’Brien was in touch with nuns in Delhi for any assistance.
But the question here is not scoring political brownie points. I would not even be writing this post had the shameless Opposition of Bengal used students as shield to embarrass the CM during her return from Ranaghat on Monday night (this after the Church prevented BJP delegation from meeting the survivor in hospital). BJP’s Sangh affiliate VHP justified the rape and attack on Christians, used abusive analogy with homosexuality to glorify the criminals.
If you open newspapers these days, they all scream about incidents of assault and attack on women. Has the situation in Bengal worsened in the last three years? Or is the media lying? Neither. It is a case of selective reportage. The same media houses which wore a veil when women were violated before 2011 has suddenly found its voice of outrage. The earlier government hardly allowed any dissent to surface; they were quashed locally in party offices. This is the digital age; we live in a free society now – The present government has nothing to hide.
1) No justice has been delivered on the Marijhanpi case in 1977, when thousands of refugee women were brutally raped, murdered and thrown away on the sea by harmads.
2) Remember Bantala, 1990? When Anita Dewan was raped, torch inserted in her private parts by CPM goons, and the Chief Minister Jyoti Basu said, ‘these things happen’.
3) In 1989, Cooch Behar at Fulbari on one single day, 10 Adivasis were raped by CPM harmads and yet no justice to them.
4) The CPM harmads entered Basanti Sonakhali and raped housewives. (1992)
5) Felani Basak, raped and murdered by CPM goons at Nadia in 1992, and no justice to her.
6) At Uday Narayanpur, Howrah, six housewives were raped by CPM goons in 1996. No justice has been delivered.
7) On the infamous Dhantala incident, males in the bus were tired up and CPM goons raped the females in front of them in 2003. And yes, no justice on this too.
8) Has justice being delivered to the brave martyr of Singur, Tapasi Malik, who was raped and murdered in 2006 at the TATA Nano complex, just because she fought for the right for her land?
9) Women who were inhumanly raped by the CPM harmads at Nandigram in 2007 still await justice.
10) Very recently, a 5 year old baby was raped by BJP workers inside the BJP office at Behala. Did Rahul Sinha, Suryakanta Mishra, Adhir Chowdhury ever speak on this issue?
11) One of the Ministers of BJP’s cabinet, Mr Nihal Chand is a rape accused and according to official police record he is absconding. Yet, he continues to attend Parliament and his Ministerial post.
12) BJP is a party, whose MP sat on stage silently while his follower asked the crow to rape the corpses of Muslim women.
13) BJP is the party whose Shakha Sangathans in Sangh Parivar dictate how many kids women should produce.
14) Have we forgotten Bilkis Bano? Have the horror stories of 2002 escaped our minds? The Prime Minister (the CM of Gujarat)’s ministers Babu Bajrangi & Maya Kodnani are out on bail. Have we forgiven them for their heinous crimes?
With such long history of inaction of CPM and the sick mentality of BJP, does it suit them to shed crocodile tears?
Posted by Agnivo Niyogi
National Commission of Women (NCW) is a respected organisation that is deemed to be the voice of women, who have been subjected to brutality from the society. It is expected to stand by those who face violence within their homes and without, always upholding the tenet of equality and dignity for women. Sadly, the current Chairperson of the NCW has not only miserably failed in her job, but allowed her political biases to influence the august chair she holds.
Mamta Sharma’s connection to the Congress is well known. She even contested Rajasthan Assembly elections on a Congress ticket (I am not even sure if that is allowed). And indulging in politics as NCW Chief is her forte (which was clearly proved when she visited Kolkata, and was flanked by senior WB Pradesh Congress leaders wherever she went).
For a person who holds the august chair of NCW Chairperson, it is but expected she will be sensitive towards victims of gender violence. It is hence appalling when the NCW Chief blames women for molestation and asks them to “dress carefully” to prevent sexual violence.
Mamta Sharma threw all protocols and conventions to air today when she wrote to (not unsurprising, given her political leanings) WB Pradesh Congress a letter, which had little to do with concern for women and was more of a political tool ahead of Lok Sabha elections. Blaming WB Govt for rising crimes against women in the State, she asked Congress to take steps to ensure safety of women (yes, the same Congress which has presided over rape after rape in Delhi; coincidentally Delhi houses the office of NCW).
Mamta Sharma is wrong on many counts. If one goes by statistics, the National Crime Records Bureau clearly show that the number of rapes in West Bengal has come down from 2536 (in 2009) to 1590 (November 2013). While crimes recorded against women in 2012 in Kolkata were 68, that in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore stood at 585, 232, 94 and 90 respectively.
Secondly, whenever crimes against women have been reported in the State, the administration has always arrested the culprits in the shortest possible time. What better example than the Madhyamgram case (October 26 – FIR lodged, Oct 31 – all accused arrested, Dec 17 – chargesheeted) or the Khidderpore case (arrests made within 24 hours). It is a tragedy that people, who failed to take action after incidents like Bantala, Dhantala, Bhangar, Tapasi Malika, Anita Dewan or Jagori Baske, now shed crocodile tears for the safety of women.
Already, there are 65 women’s police stations in different districts of West Bengal. The West Bengal Govt has set up 80 fast-track courts to deal with these crimes. Every district has a human rights court. The truth is that, due to a free media and greater sensitization due to administrative support, crimes are reported freely by women. This was unimaginable in the previous regime, where rape was a tool of scoring political brownie points.
And to spread social awareness against crimes like these, the Government has started projects like Kanyashree, Atmaraksha and Sukanya for women empowerment. Unlike some priviledged politicians who make a hue and cry over women’s issues during election season, the West Bengal Govt has been tirelessly working for the cause, despite a huge anti-publicity industry based in Delhi.
While politician Mamta Sharma is free to have her own opinion and biases, when she is on the chair of NCW Chairperson, bipartisanship and empathy from women is the least of our expectations from her. If she is incapable of doing justice to her post, she should immediately resign.