I have been following our news closely for a couple of days, and the extent of response and coverage has shocked me to the core of my belief in ethics and values of our media and human rights groups. Two cases of human rights violation – latest court orders giving a new dimension in the killing of a ‘terrorist’ Ishrat Jahan in a so called fake encounter in 2004 in Gujarat, and attack on a 20 year old married girl in Delhi in front of her husband for three continuous days have opened a can of questions as to how national media, human right groups, social activists are concerned with the violation of human rights, and how preferential they are on choosing a case to highlight.
Ishrat jahan case got exemplary attention in the mainstream as well as alternative media, with our topnotch concerned experts and media persons debating in detail about the cause and implication of the killing of Ishrat Jahan, with a tinge of political masala in it. Without debating the nature and characteristic of the encounter of the girl, the political nature of the case as well as the personal identity of the girl, the fact remains the hyper pursuit of the media and the human right groups in this case, compared to other cases.
The other case has been the confinement and continuous brutal ravishment of a married girl in Delhi, who had came from Bihar with her husband in search of job. Lured by a person they went to stay with him and finally got trapped to be assaulted and attacked by them. Delhi Police was initially not willing to register a case, nor did any right group come up with their support for the girl and her husband. The callousness of media was visible, as it gave no time to this story. There were rarely any voices beyond passing remarks on news channels or a few mid pages lines in newspapers.
Forget media, the most surprising and distressing is the invisibility of human rights groups and the social activists who condemn violence against women. Their absence in this case is going to promote gender based sensitivity is not perceivable even through my minimum consideration. There is no sign of liberal human rights and social activists demanding punishment for the four people accused of raping and confining the girl for three days. The role of social groups and activists are so crucial in such cases, where society and other institutions find themselves restricted. However in this case where a woman got ravished, we saw lackadaisical response from right based groups. Unfortunately, value of a poor ravished woman’s life is less important than the once got encountered in a high profile case.
Notion of Human Rights and value of Life
Since its conception, Human Rights and value for life is a universal doctrine grounded on comprehensive high moral and intellectual values. I would rather say “an idealistic ideal” common human sentiments based on universal principles rather than autonomous singular principle. Therefore, its applicability is universal. The consistent of life ethics (termed by Joseph Bernardin in 1983), which is based on the notion that human life is sacred, is a valuable insight expressing ethical, social, cultural and religious disposition of human life.
Probably, rights and values are best reflected in our nation when the crusader’s objective based on their ideologies marries with their level of interest. There has been a sight of beneficial debates over the politicization of human rights arena. The voluntary nature of participation based on individual and collective ebullience for special and at times specific interests have seriously impeded the appropriate act expected from these groups, clearly bringing opprobrium to the whole movement of the human rights and social activism. Human rights in terms of promotion, advocacy and implementation have been carried out by various voluntary organizations and civil societies’ members with and without government help. Majority of these organizations and members have political and ideological connotation attached to their understanding of events. The considerable problem arises when such groups and members’ commitment fundamentally lies on the ground of fulfillment of political and ideological objectives determining their interests and not on actual ground realities. Sometimes human rights value is used as a helm to harbor political mileage. Even democratic participation of human rights groups and organization are arrayed on the line of political ideologies and not on universal values, simply creating short sightedness. Somehow this has bottle necked the ecumenical understanding of human rights and values.
Human Rights Is Not An Empty Cliche
Human rights and its values, elements are more or less part of every social and political ideology (left, right or center). It’s the strategical and tactical use of these values and elements to attain higher political objective, irrespective of political formation, which is circumscribing the actual strength of human right movement in India. Human rights will mean nothing, if they are selective, preferential and as empty as a cliché.
By Gaurav Kumar
AFSPA: Our National Shame
Image Source: Ishrat