Kathua to Unnao : From Beti Bachao to Balatkari Bachao

Protest against shielding of rapists in Kathua and Unnao ( Pic Courtesy: The Hindu)

Two gruesome incidents of rape have shocked the nation; not just for the horrific nature of the crime, but also for the ruling party, the BJP trying to shield the accused, with its sitting ministers even going on to support bandhs and rallies against arresting of the rape accused. Let us not forget the slogan with which this BJP government came to power in 2014 – bahut hua naari par vaar, abki baar Modi Sarkar. The PM, known to tweet on every issue, hasn’t thought that rape of two women in the BJP ruled states and the shielding of the accused by his party as even an issue to give out a statement. The betis of the nation are under threat from the ruling party.

On 7th April, a 16-year old girl and her family tried to commit suicide outside UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s residence, accusing sitting Unnao MLA, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, member of the BJP, and her brother of raping her last year in June. Despite repeated complaints to the police by the girl and her family, no case was registered for over 10 months, and when it was registered, the police refused to name the MLA in the FIR. When the complainant and her family were about to approach a magistrate to get the MLA’s name added to the FIR on 3rd April, the Unnao police had her father arrested on a false pretext. Soon after the girl tried to commit suicide, her father was thrashed and beaten to death on 9th April at the behest of the MLA’s brother in police custody. The BJP MLA still roams free, without any fear of being arrested. He is seen to be holding meetings with the UP CM has even declared that the complainant and her family are ‘nimna star ke log’ (lowly people). There has been no statement from the ruling party or any action against its MLA.

In another horrific incident, in early January this year, Ashifa, a 8 year old girl of the Bakerwal community of Jammu, was drugged and sedated, electrocuted, gang-raped, strangulated and then hit with a stone twice to make sure she was dead. Ashifa’s rape and murder was, according to evidence gathered by the J&K Crime Branch, pre-planned, in order to spread terror in the local Bakerwal community. A Special Police Officer and others committed this horrific atrocity against Ashifa for the political motive of terrorizing her nomadic community.

After the arrest of the accused, the BJP and its supporters have surrounded the rape-murder in a communally charged fog in an attempt to defend the accused. The “Hindu Ekta Manch” led by Lal Singh Chaudhary and Chander Prakash Ganga – BJP leaders and ministers in the state’s PDP-BJP government – led protests waving the national flag in defence of the accused. The Kathua Bar Association tried to physically block the filing of the charge-sheet for four hours.

In the most recent development, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association (Jammu), whose members are connected to the BJP, joined the stir on behalf of the Hindu Ekta Manch and called a Jammu Bandh on 11 April. Ashifa’s lawyer, a woman, was threatened by the Bar Association members. These thugs in lawyers’ uniforms have not been debarred.

Instead of ‘Beti Bachao’ the BJP’s real slogan should be ‘Balatkari Bachao’. There can be nothing more shameful than BJP’s defence of those accused of heinous rapes and murders because they are of ‘their’ party or ‘their’ ideology. They are making those accused of Ashifa’s horrific rape and murder poster-boys for the BJP and RSS. The UP Government which is killing off undertrials in fake encounters saying criminals don’t deserve trials, is busy withdrawing criminal cases from the UP CM and BJP leaders – including a case that a woman had filed against former Union Minister ‘Swami’ Chinmayanand accusing him of raping her in his ashram.

Let’s come forward to say that we stand with Ashifa and the Unnao rape survivor.

Let’s come forward to say that rape-accused should not be defended on communal or political lines.

Let’s come forward against BJP’s open, shameless defence of those accused of rape and murder in Unnao and Kathua.

Let us stand in solidarity and in rage with the victims and their families. Let us give a loud and clear message that the citizens of this country will resist every anti-women move of this government.

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