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Rape and the Propagandist Media

Another high-profile rape case in Delhi has shook the country’s conscience. Two years ago on December 16, India was shamed and numbed by a horrific incident in Saket. History repeated itself two years later.

While most of Twitter was occupied with a debate on banning a private cab service, my mind was thinking something different. The rape narrative in the Indian media is extremely sensationalist, insensitive, reporting is skewed and often propagandist. I want to give three examples:

i. The much publicised ‘Gede sexual assualt case was chargesheeted within 17 days and within 10 months of the incident; the culprits were given the judgement of being hanged by the court.

ii. In the case of ‘Madhyamgram rape incident’, within 10 months the process of conviction was completed and 20 years of jail term was pronounced by the court.

iii. In the ‘Labhpur gangrape, chargesheet was filed with efficiency and within 10 months, the process of conviction is complete and culprits have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

In other cases reported from Malda, South 24 Parganas & Birbhum, speedy justice has been delivered within 7-14 months of the occurrence of such horrific incidents.

Yet, few months back, the headline of Bengal’s biggest (as of now) vernacular daily screamed ‘Maharashtra beats Bengal in sentencing rapists’. Is rape a competitive sport for them now? Just because Shakti Mills incident was dealt with alacrity by the Maharashtra Government, that speaks for all cases in courts in that State?

The newspaper specifically referred to the two infamous cases – Park Street and Kamduni – while citing the State’s slow justice process. Agreed that the two cases have been delayed for long. But then, unlike other cases where justice is served speedily, these cases were highly politicised by opportunist politicians of the Bengal Opposition. Specially in Kamduni, the family of the victim even accused the “protibadi mancha” of unnecessarily meddling.

Rape Bengal Kolkata

I will not let my blog be a propaganda tool for useless political rhetoric. Here are some hardcore statistics on this issue:

  • As per 2013 NCRB data, Kolkata has recorded the minimum rate of rapes per lakh woman.
  • The rate of rapes per lakh women in Kolkata is 1.10, which is much lower than other metros the rates per lakh women are – Delhi (19.02), Mumbai (4.59) and even much below the national average of (6.39).
  • Very recently, Kolkata has been awarded the ‘Best City in Crime and Safety’ by India Today group.
  • West Bengal has already opened 65 all women Police Stations and many more are in the process of rolling out.

Despite the Centre’s decision to withdraw financial support for fast track courts, West Bengal has continued with many fast track courts to ensure that speedy justice is delivered. In order to extend the facility of speedy trials, 88 fast track courts, 45 courts for woman have either been set up of notified.

Although the NCRB data for 2013 is now in public domain, media loves to quote 2012 data as that shows a spurt in reported crimes against women in the State (although the increase can be explained with better awareness among women. Those who were earlier afraid to report a crime are doing so freely under the new Bengal Government).

This will probably not find mention in the media, as the supari journalists with vested interests only like to discredit and malign the State. But reality and truth shall always prevail.

Love on a metro

Asit knew it was too good to be true. Running on the pavement of Rashbehari Avenue, battling for space with hawkers, it seemed he was running the last battle of his life. The darned bus on route 3C/1 reached 5 minutes late and he barely had a minute before the metro at 9.53AM would arrive. As soon as he stepped into the Kalighat metro station, he bumped into a security officer. There he could hear the metro leave.

———

Avash was impatiently waiting for Asit at M.G.Road. They were ten minutes late and the exam starts in twenty minutes. Asit was in the habit of turning up late at places, but Avash had not expected him to repeat the same during exams too. Miffed he was rubbing his palms eagerly. Ah, there appeared the moron. Two solid punches on the bum. Avash was a happy man.

———

Tara collapsed on the platform. The world seemed to have taken a tide for her. All she could see were waves of tears gushing at her. She wanted to drown, but someone was pulling her up. How could Rajit do this? They were supposed to meet at Haldirams at 4PM. She came in a bit early to surprise him. In one corner of the deserted Rabindra Sadan platform, Rajit was embraced in a kiss with a girl!

 

A month later…….

Asit was not only on time but reached before Avash. He loved to sit on the platform of metro stations and watch Incoda TV. To add to his joy, they were playing songs of A R Rahman. Time flew as he immersed himself into Rahmanism. It was then that it struck him that his 90 minutes to use the ticket was going to be over in 15 minutes. Boarding the next north bound train, he got off at Park Street.

After strolling for about an hour on the streets, a mini burger lunch at MacDonalds, and window shopping at Oxford, Asit began to worry. Avash had never been so late. He tried his phone, but the number was unavailable. Worried, Asit walked back towards the metro station to check on at Avash’s home. The queue at ticket counter was serpentine. There was a commotion. Trains were cancelled between Dumdum and Park Street. A “couple” committed suicide at Girish Park………

Later that night……..

Asit just returned from Keoratola crematorium. Avash’s burning face haunted him. He could still not understand why Avash kept the news of his girlfriend hidden from him. That too Tara! He always thought Tara understood the “special” relationship Avash and Asit shared. More than the sense of loss, the breach of trust harrowed him.

The Next Day……..

Somewhere at the office of a news channel the anchor read from the teleprompter:

Just Breaking In. Kolkata witnesses yet another suicide on metro tracks, ill fated Girish Park becomes host to yet another disillusioned youth who took away his life. Police tells us that the person who met his fate belongs to a posh South Kolkata locality and studies in Presidency College. His name is Asit……………..

Epilogue – CCTV footage from Girish Park metro station revealed that a girl in her early twenties jumped off the platform at 11.53AM. Seeing her jump, another boy (probably someone who knew her) tried to bring her back to platform. When she refused, and he guessed her intentions, he jumped off too to push her back. Right at that moment a speeding train bound for Sovabazar entered the station…… Fait accompli.

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P.S. – Today marks the completion of 26 years since Kolkata metro undertook it’s first journey from Esplanade to Bhawanipore. India’s first and Kolkata’s pride, the metro suffers a lot due to people who choose to end their lives on the tracks. But the metro also weaves stories across lives, no?

Here’s wishing Kolkata Metro keeps making us proud!

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