Zahid Nabi

What If Her Name Was Not Asifa!

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Rallying For Rapists:

Her name was Asifa which means courageous. She was just seven, collecting her childhood memories in the courtyard of her hut. Having been born in a nomadic tribe she did not enjoy luxuries of life as we all do, but that mattered little to her. She would play outside her home and help her parents in the rearing of cattle. Everything was normal for Asifa’s family until the day, when the little girl went to a nearby water body to fetch water for the cattle. Late in the evening cattle returned, but the girl didn’t.
For a week her restless parents along with cops, searched for her everywhere only to return dejected. Seven days later what was feared turned out to be the truth, when the dead body of that girl was found in a nearby village. The medical examination confirmed the “rape”. Bruises on the body spoke of weeklong brutality the girl had gone through. She had been force fed sedatives to stop her cries from catching attention of nearby villagers. Lips that would murmur kindergarten rhymes to soothe her tired parents had been bitten off; apparently by beasts wearing human skin.
This is neither an excerpt from an English Drama nor opening scene of a theatre play. These are the factual events that snatched life of a poor tribal girl in Rasana village of Kathua in the second week of January, this year.
Initially, a minor boy thought to be the culprit was arrested but as the authorities stepped in what transpired was unimaginable from any reach of human imagination. Snake was in the courtyard; the rapist who inflicted unspeakable pain on the child was a cop who was tasked with tracing out the missing girl. The nomadic tribe was left shell shocked, as would have been any right thinking individual. A man who derives taxpayer’s money as salary for the protection of people carried out the devilish deed. The investigation is on and the culprit along with his accomplices has been arrested. The case will go to courts and as usual will take years to complete.
What concerns me is not whether the culprits will get desired dose of punishment for the crime that has left all of us deeply horrified, but the events that have preceded this flagitious act. Instead of rallying for the victim the reverse is happening. Many so called leaders are standing out for the culprits and demanding the transfer of case to their pet investigating agency seemingly to shield the conspirators. The arrest of culprits seems to have given heartache to many and they are forcing shutdowns and forming unity fronts to cure it. A girl abducted, drugged, raped and murdered is being forgotten either because of her religion or her impecunious background ¬– probably both. I wonder how could we celebrate World Women’s Day and rally behind rapists in the same week of the month. Leaders kept aside, we as a society are also responsible for maintaining criminal silence. We have become part of an infected and infested society where monstrous crime against a poor girl gathers less attention than the dancing moves of a celebrity’s infant and we all are to be blamed for this. If such a terrible incident won’t awaken our conscience and unite us against those who did it, what else would? For how long will we ask the religion of the victim before taking out that candle light march? What if the culprit is from my caste and the victim from other? Will I abandon all human etiquettes only because that name sounds unheard? These entire questions will remain unanswered as long as a dead soul rests inside an alive body.
The politicians will continue to create more divisions between people to earn more political mileage and beasts like killers of poor Asifa will continue to persist in the society, what matters is that how many human traits we will acquire to counter both these menacing creatures.
– Author is a Ph.D. Scholar who lives at Pinglena Pulwama and can be reached at [email protected]

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