By V. Kanthaiya –
“When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’.” – Mukesh Singh, one of the convicts in Nirbhaya’s gang rape and murder case
Much research has been done and is being done on the concept of “Multiverse” by physicists all over the world. While the physicists were busy trying to find out the hypothetical parallel universe beyond the galaxies, our computer scientists created several parallel universes within our universe.
I used to partly exist in one such universe called Facebook, but not now. Recently I had two shocking experiences with Facebook. I happened to scroll through some of the photos of a lady friend of mine posted by her on Facebook, with about twenty comments like, “Lovely”, “So Sweet”, “Awesome”,” Gorgeous ”etc. Apart from the photos themselves, the shocking aspect of the post was when I realised this lady friend of mine is maintaining about twenty fake Facebook accounts, just to comment on her photos in the above manner, which no sane human being in this universe would dare to do.
The other post was by one of my close friends, which simply said “Kamal Ranjan is feeling very sad with Rajini Ranjan and 20 others – Our Grandma has passed away this morning”, with my friend’s selfie at the parlour with his grandma inside a coffin in the background. Below that post were 94 likes. I was confused why so many people are happy about the death of this old lady and why they are showing their hatred for her in public.
With these ‘shocking’ experiences, I decided to cease my existence in the parallel universe called Facebook and moved to the other parallel universe called “Twitter”, where I bumped into the hashtag #banBBCinIndia.
The #banBBC is all about the documentary “India’s Daughter” directed by Leslee Udwin, for BBC. The content is an analysis of the sexual assault on women which is prevalent in Indian Society, with significant focus given to the case of “Nirbhaya”- a physiotherapy student, gang raped and murdered in Delhi, in 2012.
I was able to observe one striking pattern of Twitter comments, which proved that we Sri Lankans are truly of Indian origin. Most of the Indians who claimed they love their mother country tweeted that the documentary India’s Daughter is a conspiracy to portray India as a country not safe for women. I was also able to observe most of the tweets which were aggressive and showed apparent hatred towards the BBC and Udwin were by the Hindu Nationalists. Their claim was based on statistic, that rapes do happen in India, but it is of a small percentage when compared to its total population. This claim is by the same public which stepped out into streets back in 2012, and this was the crowd which desperately wanted media coverage on the violence against women and the State’s inaction on that crime. Now the entire atmosphere is changed.
Presently the Indian public (BBC calls “some of the Indian public”) want no media coverage on the violence against women, in India. Any attempt by the foreign media or national media is considered as an attempt to tarnish the country’s image. BBC is considered a malicious foreign entity who is working hand in hand with Pakistan’s ISI. One should pose a question to those who call themselves Indian nationalists, whether they can disprove the claim that India is not safe for women.
India is not China. India proclaims itself as the most populous democracy in the world, thus it was quite disturbing to see the swiftness with which the Indian government acted to ban the documentary being telecast in India, and also taking steps to remove it from You tube. Most of the independent commentators claim that the reason is fear for the country’s tourism industry, which may collapse if the country is perceived as not safe for women. India is more bothered about its brand image being damaged, it’s more bothered about its tourism industry, and it’s more bothered about its national pride, than those poor women who were raped and continue to be raped.
Note from the Author – I believe that the Sri Lankan patriots who have deep entrenched hatred for India, for facilitating the ethnic conflict in the country, would be highly amused by my above criticism. I strongly recommend you not to proceed to the following paragraphs if you want to keep that feeling of amusement.
I would like to draw your attention to another documentary produced by another British television channel. The documentary is “The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” which was produced by Channel 4. The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) was exceptionally vehement in opposing the release of the said documentary. The government banned it in the country and denied all the allegations saying all the graphic evidence in the documentary were fabricated. Sri Lanka is a democracy. It should have allowed the documentary to be screened in the country. It should have given the opportunity to the people of the country to decide whether the allegations are true or not.
The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka blamed certain sections of the security forces and the military top hierarchy for the atrocities committed against the Tamil civilians. But the GoSL portrayed it as a threat to the entire country. In fact, the documentary was seeking justice for Sri Lankan men, Sri Lankan women and the Sri Lankan children who were denied their fundamental rights, killed and wounded mercilessly. To the Sinhala masses, it had been said again and again, that whoever was killed in the war, were terrorists, and the security forces were carrying out a hostage rescue operation. If it was the truth, why did the GoSL not allow the thousands of Tamil civilians of Vanni to testify at the UNHCR probe, about what happened during the last phase of the war? Why didn’t it allow any foreign media free access to those former battle sites?
You may say these arguments about past events are leading nowhere. You may say that we need to leave these and move forward. Well, to move forward, Sri Lankan society should take steps to build the trust of the Tamil people on the concept of unity, constitution, justice and ethnic equality.
First of all, the victims of war crimes, and those who were subjected to the long term genocide should be allowed to openly talk about the injustice they endured. The genocide resolution by the northern provincial council (NPC) is such an attempt to tell the world about the plight of the Sri Lankans in the Northern Province. It is the voice of those left alive at the end of the bloody total war the State has waged.
For me, what was disturbing was to see the outcry by those Sinhala intellectuals, political scientists and the so called analysts that the resolution is a “stupid” move, which would cause ethnic polarisation, distrust, and pave the way to Sinhala hardliners and would push the Sri Lankan government towards a more hard-line approach towards Tamils. This simply means, if Tamils want to save what they have now, they need to keep quiet. They shouldn’t ask for justice.
This is none other than the deeply enshrined arrogance within the majoritarian ethnic collective attitude that Tamils should not demand justice. They are given the opportunity to elect the Northern provincial council and they should be grateful to the Sri Lankan government for that. They can pass resolutions, but not anything finding fault with the war heroes.
I find this strikingly similar to the attitude of Mukesh Singh who was interviewed in the documentary, India’s Daughter. He says, regarding the gang rape and murder of Nirbhaya, that the victim shouldn’t have fought back, if she didn’t fight back and allowed the rape, they would have shown some mercy, and left her alive after the sexual assault.
In India the above attitude prevails among the rapists, murderers, sadists and other criminals who are plainly driven by the thirst of dominance on the weaker section of the society, women and children. But in Sri Lanka, the same attitude is shared by the so called religious leaders, intellectuals and by the refined professionals. They deny the right of those brutality victimised by the State to seek justice, by preventing an independent investigation of the atrocities against the Tamil civilians.
They brand any attempt by the democratically elected NPC to seek justice for the genocide, as a move for separation. For them, the lives lost and the unimaginable cruelty endured by those victims does not matter. They don’t feel any pity; they don’t feel any remorse towards the sufferings. What they are bothered is their national pride.
What is the root cause for this ignorance to other’s pain? Gaurav, a child rapist tells Udwin in the interview, when asked about how he decided to actually execute his intention, without feeling any pity for the child; “She was a beggar girl; her life was of no value”. I don’t have any reason not to conclude that those who deny the justice for Tamils have the same answer, “Those killed were Tamils, and their life is of no value for us”.