On July 9th a nation watched as a girl was molested by young men in full public view .This nation watched it becoming a phenomenon on Twitter.People who didnt know about NE leave alone about Guwahati was now on everyone's minds.Bollywood was tweeting about it.Guwahati was the new "Jhumri Telaiya" a place "discovered" by India all of a sudden.One fine morning India woke up to a sleepy town called Guwahati.They were outraged at how a girl's modesty had been torn apart.Like the clothes that were ripped apart from her body to the eyes of the voyeuristic male ,it felt like the heart was being ripped out of every true blooded Assamese including me.And now the questions rise:
1. Did it deserve to be the Twitter - social media revolution as it had become ?
My answer is every bit yes.This isn't about one Guwahati .It is about how men have viewed women all over the world.As objects as objects to be acquired.When a girl drinks she is called a prostitute by that logic shouldn't every man who drinks be called a gigolo?Should out fathers our brothers be called gigolos as well.We talk about equality about generosity to women .Do we still mean it? If yes then why are we still stressing on the fact that the girl was drunk.How does it matter? Drinking in this country is not a crime molesting is .And its the larger dimension about how we treat our women.3000 years ago the Mauryans the Guptas gave institutional support to the old women who couldn't earn their livelihood through prostitution anymore.Institutional support for ageing prostitutes .This is the culture of this country.This was the value we once gave our women.And today women for us is an object to be conquered.Shes a girl a wife a mother a nobody ..I wonder.
So yes this is not about the modesty of one women being outraged this is about the society that we live in .And so every crime like this must be made a national issue.Many claims every Sunday this nation watches Aaamir Khan shed crocodile tears.Maybe yes maybe not but we cant deny the ordeal of a wife who was bitten on her face because she couldnt produce a male heir, we cant deny the ordeal of a wife who saw her mother in law kick her baby daughter from the stairs to the bottom.
This is the country we have given to ourselves.For every Sonia Gandhi and every Pratibha Patil there are a million "Guwahati girls" today who are termed "prostitutes" in the end.They deserve every bit of the fight..And they must not only be protected but they must come out and fight for themselves as well.
Reserving one coach for women in metro wouldnt bring any revolution in this country.Changing the mindset will.
2. Assamese society is an egalitarian society ,which respects its women.
Every bit of yes.Yes even after the incident which has shamed me no doubt I still raise my hand and say I am a proud Assamese.If it were for the rest of India the girl's family in all case would have stabbed her and killed her in the name of "honour killing"
But not in Assam.The next day people on their own incentive took out posters of the culprits and pasted them all over the city .The question on people's minds was How could our boys do this? Rather than Oh look the girl is drunk.
Of course a section of the people would blame the girl as well saying ahh she drank .But then bad eggs lie in every basket.Yes this is a setback for us .Yes its a setback for the Assamese society but we will rise again.
This nation of Sati Joymoti,Mulagabhoru,kanaklata,Phuleshwari is known to respect its women and put them in the highest pedestal.Our women have gone in the fields and worked with the men,our women have tied their children to their backs and gone and fished with the men.
I have no doubt that Assamese society will rise once more.And take its place which it truly deserves.Yes there have been problems.The recent crime data which places Assam at 3rd position is used by detractors to illustrate Assam is failing.But there is an alternate view that people in Assam are not scared to report.
As a true blue blooded Assamese one thing I do not want to be perhaps imported to out culture is "demeanifying women" which is a rampant subcontinentaial phenomenon.We hope we emerge from this setback stronger and bigger hearted.
3.The girl drank .She was a sult.
The biggest myth till date.Someone quoted that does freedom for women mean she can roam in streets at night dressed in shorts.No sir, it dosent it means that if she does so she dosent have to be scared.A girl can pretty well roam naked in the street.If someone is outraged he/she can file a complaint in the courts.Get the girl arrested.But noone noone has the rights to outrage the modesty of the girl.
James Farmer Junior quoted in the Great Debators :
"In Texas they lynch Negroes. My teammates and I saw a man strung up by his neck and set on fire. We drove through a lynch mob, pressed our faces against the floorboard. I looked at my teammates. I saw the fear in their eyes and, worse, the shame. What was this Negro's crime that he should be hung without trial in a dark forest filled with fog. Was he a thief? Was he a killer? Or just a Negro? Was he a sharecropper? A preacher? Were his children waiting up for him? And who are we to just lie there and do nothing. No matter what he did, the mob was the criminal. "
Mob acton can never be justified.So no matter what the girl did .The mob was the criminal.
4. The mediapersons on spot were they correct?
In my view as long as they had collected the footage it was fine.To catch the criminals they say.Agreed .But media shouldnt have aired the footages.They could have merely shown the face of the criminals and ended the issue.
And yet in this nation where dog bites man is breaking news a girls's top being ripped off in public view was much more than just sadistic pleasure.It was villification of this country's need for excitement.A country bored with preeety much everything including IPL would undoubtedly step up and applaud the excitement.And it was with this mentality the channels uploaded the video.It was undoubtedly with this thing in mind that the journalist in question gleefully shot the video .He wanted to create "news" fodder for the people of this country who loved to invade the privacy of others.
As someone said "this is India if you cant have sex you just imagine others having sex".Our craze for sensationalism has produced this disastrous consequence.
So perhaps its time for all of us to go back and think hard and long ,for a really long time.The Guwahati episode provides this nation with new equations and new questions?
What matters is how we answer them.