Friday, December 23, 2005

Another think

Shit happens.
It happens, because we let it happen.
We don't lift a finger to stop it happening.

What is really infuriating, to me, is not the news of the gang-rape itself, nor the (alleged) abdication of responsibility by the railway cops from UP or MP. What is infuriating is the assumption that the 'system' was, as expected, dysfunctional, and that we - the comman man, if you will - are suffering because the cops failed in their duty.
As if we had no duty of our own!!

Have you all traveled in a 'general' compartment in UP? I have.

There is not once square inch of space in that dabba. People lie down on the narrow luggage-racks overhead. People squat in the aisles. A space meant for six people is occupied by twelve. By the most conservative estimate, there are at least 200 people in one general compartment. Maybe more.

How many dacoits/rapists/robbers/assailants/whatever-they-were?
Maybe 8. Not more than 10.

Ten men. Two cops.
[Okay, so there should have been five cops according to the rule-book. But that's neither here nor there; the rule-book rarely works anywhere.]

The point is that we - the aam junta of this mahaan rashtra with it's mahaan sankaar and centuries' old tradition of dharma - expected those two cops to fight off those ten men, while we sat back on our cowardly little backsides.

Three men protested, anf were pushed off the train, for their pains. What galls me is that there were only three of them.

Even if these 8-10 dacoits were armed - and I doubt they were carrying bombs or even fancy automated weapons that would have silenced the whole compartment in one blaze of fire - are you telling me that five men couldn't have stood up and pinned down one assailant each? You'd only need fifty men....

A woman was getting raped, but not one man had the guts to even reach up and pull the emergency chain!

I remember people pulling the chain when some member of their travel party got left behind, as the train began to pull out. I remember people pulling the chain when someone from the platform called out 'Pull the chain!', without waiting to find out why. 'Why' comes later.

Yet, not one man or woman, in that probably jam-packed compartment, reached up to pull the chain.

What really scares me is this sense of deja vu... Names, places, dates change. The story doesn't.

Remember August 2002, Mumbai?

Mumbai... that haven for women. That one 'safe' city in the country. Where women aren't assaulted so easily, even if they're alone, even at night.
But when they are, the city looks on, not lifting a finger. Even if it's a 12-year old girl being raped by a one-armed man.... Not one man will have the sense to pull the chain. Trains, late at night, stop at almost all stations - the average time between smaller stations is two minutes, maybe three, maybe five. Not one man tried to step off the train when it stopped, to interrupt the raping.

When citizens - you and I - do not want to take on criminals, because we're afraid of getting hurt, why should we expect the cops to be any different? Toting a gun doesn't make you a superman, for God's sake! The cops are just extensions of this system that is 'us'. They get paid to do a job, but money cannot buy courage, or even social responsibility.

The cops will pass the buck, if they can. No society can ever be made secure through state-sponsored forces alone. We are our own security.

Why do I feel safe when shopping at Lajpat Nagar in the evenings? Because there are hordes of people there.
Why do I hesitate before taking a walk down the more deserted streets of Central Delhi, evn in broad daylight? Because there aren't enough people about.
Why do I not hesitate before watching movies at the mulitplex-cum-mall complexes at night? Because there are hordes of people.
If there were no people, but only five cops, I'd be scared out of my wits.

Because a man with a gun is only as dangerous as his whims - a uniform is no guarantee of my safety. The 'public' is. The hordes are.

Or so I used to think. I guess, I have another think coming.


WillOTheWisp said...

Fairly articulate and pretty much on the dot, I'd say. Sometimes the qustion asks itself - Do we deserve even the little that the state machinery does?

Anonymous said...

I agree completely.

sepoy said...

and then this...

Suhail said...

Terrible! I seethe in rage everytime I read such stories. Seriosly, their unmentionables should be dismembered, and ....or some such worse thing.
Sorry, about the vulgar image, but this never fails to infuriate me and I don't even know what to say about the onlookers.

Unknown said...

If we could just look around, we can easily find out our mean actions and even meaner existence.You have raised a question, wherein one has an emergency, and people need all the courage to act to fight.What I perceive in the day to day life is even worse.When a child comes begging to you at an intersection, does anybody DARE to do something, when one is noy required to sum up courage and fight something.What do we do when a child comes to our home with the delivery from the stores and the restaurants?Do we ever think about sharing a little extra wealth with anyone who really needs it?Do we ever raise a voice when the janata idiolises one president who builds missiles , which kills thousands of innocent children and women, and then sermonises them to be benevolent and kind and aspiring?
Till the time we are bereft of compassion and true love, which is not perenially tilted towards My son, My papa/mama, My brother, My sister....., we shall keep on getting all the muck in our faces.And we have been like this for centuries.We have not changed.So Anne! we are the heathens of heathens and till we transform ourselves, we have to live with the shit.
I am sorry if anything offends anyone here.When I say WE, I count myself in it as well; the first one.

a dracul said...

First Happy xXxmas to you. Perhaps the meaning is that a singleton or a few who are determined can overpower the will of the many who are not. I recall one day in September when two or three men armed only with what americans call box cutters and we call stanley knives took control over hundreds in several planes took a thousand points off the stock market and brought the sole superpower to its knees. The problem seems to be that the few men who are determined have no real imagination. It is clear that if you can get two or three to agree with you on anything no one will challenge you, no one will intervene. And all you could come up with was a gang rape and a nation rape. Men are pigs. Happy xXxmas all the same

Amit R Verma said...

Lets face it , we are , we all are insensitive lot. As Amartya Sen says " Argumentative Indian". We really are that. We (well not many of us,but there is sizable public who) talk , argue and debate all issue affecting us directly or indirectly but how many of us act? Be it women enpowerment , poverty ,corruption, education or any other material for those intellectual discussions , we all just talk , the argumentative indians. Guys its time for us to start from the individual in us. We gotta be more self deciplined. We are part of this system damn it and to change the system we need to start with us.Sure shame on us , but what next ?

Ashok said...

I like the way you write, articulating the thought that few of us share, but none have the voice or the ability to say it like you do. I guess you straddle a thin line in your writing; a line which divides the popular from the harsh reality, a reality which is honest but shameful.

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