[A nationwide protest, silent marches and candle light vigil were organized all across India after BJP members were seen openly speaking in favour of the party MLA who was accused of rape in Unnao. ]
Mumbai: In possibly the most scathing criticism of the BJP-led NDA government in recent times, more than 600 academics and scholars from India and abroad in an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Modi while expressing their “deep anger and anguish” over the events in Kathua and Unnao said that there was an “undeniable association” of violence “with the ruling dispensation”.
The academics also expressed their concerns over the efforts, in both the cases, of those administering the relevant states to protect the alleged perpetrators of these monstrous crimes, over the subsequent profoundly distasteful efforts of rationalisation, deflection and diversion that have been, according to them, so much in evidence in the reactions of the Bhartiya Janata Party’s spokespersons in the media.
In the letter which is signed by 637 academics from India, Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, UAE, Ireland, Canada and some other countries, they also said that Modi’s assurances of justice for the victims were “wholly inadequate, platitudinous, and non-specific”.
“This is not to associate violence exclusively with your party and with state governments presided over by your party. But there is an undeniable association with the ruling dispensation”, the scholars wrote while pointed out that many of the rape incidents in the recent past have occurred in states with BJP governments, and all of them after the BJP assumed power at the Centre.
The letter comes at the backdrop of the worldwide anger against the rising rape cases and violence against minorities and Dalits in India, and support extended to the violent groups by the BJP or people associated with its affiliate groups. A nationwide protest, silent marches and candle light vigil were organized all across India after BJP members were seen openly speaking in favour of the party MLA who was accused of rape in Unnao.
In Kathua too, month-long protests invoking nationalism and the national flag were held in support of the alleged rapists with two sitting BJP ministers in attendance. When they were asked to resign from their posts after anger mounted, they said that they had been told to attend the protest by higher-ups in the party.
While asserting that Kathua and Unnao are not isolated incidents, they said, “They are part of a pattern of repeated targeted attacks on minority religious communities, Dalits, tribals and women, in which rape and lynching have been employed as instruments of violence by gau rakshaks and others, in a sequence of events spread across Dadri in Uttar Pradesh (2015), Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir (2015), Bijapur and Sukma in Chhattisgarh (2015-16), Harda in Madhya Pradesh (2016), Latehar in Jharkand (2016), Una in Gujarat (2016), Rohtak in Haryana (2017), Delhi (2017), Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh (2017), and now Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh (2018).”
“There is little evidence, in government action, of an appreciation of the importance of providing assistance to vulnerable sections of the society – whether through promotional measures aimed at enabling tribals and nomads to have access to forest and common property rights, or through preventive measures aimed at discouraging blatant breaches of the rule of law,” they added.
The academics also quoted the Allahabad High Court’s observation in the Unnao rape case wherein it said, “If this is the conduct of the police in the state, whom will a victim approach to register a complaint? If this is the stand you are repeatedly taking then we will be forced to observe in our order that law and order has collapsed in the state”.
“We send you this letter because it is our duty to do so; so that we are not guilty of silence; and so that callousness and cowardice might finally draw the line at the broken body of a little girl and the rape of a young woman,” the letter concluded.
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