Take I, Year 2012
On December 16,on a cold,chilly night a gory tragedy unfolded in the capital of India, that shook the conscience of the entire nation, making one wonder whether human beings had really evolved from the Stone Age.
The brutal gang- rape and murder of the 23- year old paramedical student, Jyoti Singh known as Nirbhaya for her fighting spirit, who along with a male companion committed the cardinal crime of boarding a DTC bus at 9.30 pm to return home.
A gang of six occupants of the bus, including a minor, who were already on a crime spree, found them easy prey and took turns not only to rape the girl but assault her brutally, even pulling out her intestines, because she protested the language they used against them. The victim’s frail body could not match her fighting spirit and she succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital.
Take II year 2015
Three years on one of the convicted men, driver Ram Singh is dead,four are awaiting their fate in jail even though they have been convicted but the entire focus of the media and the lynch mobs shouting ‘ khoon Ka badla khoon’ is on the juvenile who is all set to be released after completing the three- year reformatory period as mandated under the law.
As I was watching the program organized by the Nirbhaya Jyoti Trust at Jantar Mantar yesterday, where the mother of Jyoti bravely declared that she was not ashamed of giving out the name of her daughter because it is the perpetrators of the crime who need to be ashamed, I was stuck by a strange co-incidence.
The entire burden of the gory tragedy is now on two mothers-one,the mother who lost her entire world on that day three years back and the other the mother of the juvenile who is scared of coming out because he could be lynched by angry mobs who believe that a three-year reform home confinement is not enough punishment.
The program at Jantar Mantar to commemorate the memory of Jyoti saw the attendance of prominent personalities from every strata of society such as Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar,Sharmishta Mukherjee, Barkha Singh,Suhasini Ali, Kiran Bedi etc.to show their solidarity with her. So much so that even TV anchor Barkha Dutt was on stage to participate in the programme where buses had been arranged to ferry participants.
In contrast, the mother of the Juvenile who belongs to Badaun is awaiting the return of her son, the eldest of 4 siblings who had left home seven years ago to earn a living. They don’t know what came over him when he took part in that brutal crime but the family has been under constant watch dunce then.
At present their eldest daughter aged 17,earning Rs.200 per month, is the sole bread winner of the family where the father is a mental wreck. For them, their 21- year old brother is their only hope but they are not sure if he would ever be free, given the hounding by some individuals and the media which has flouted all norms to give exclusive coverage to his activities.
One of the purposes of the trial of children, which is another term for juveniles,by the Juvenile Justice Board is to protect his right to privacy, guaranteed under the JJ Act.
One of the national newspapers committed the unpardonable blunder of revealing the religion of the juvenile by reporting that he was offering Namaz five times a day. Even though this report was meant to prove that he had totally reformed in three years,it set off danger signals.
It was only after this that reports of his turning a Jehadi started figuring in the media because one of the criminals involved in a terror case was placed in his cell for one month.
So even as the date of his release has been declared openly,again violating all rules,his family, already stigmatized by the heinous crime in which he has been painted as being the most brutal, is not sure whether they would ever be able to see him again.
By Amitabh Srivastava