Dalit Lives are not Disposable

Image Source: Arre

The horrific events in Hathras in recent days show that Uttar Pradesh in no longer Uttam Pradesh. While India is opening up everywhere from the strict lockdown, Hathras has become a Fortress that has imprisoned the 19 year old rape victims family in their own home. The imposition of section 144 has made it difficult for Media to discharge their duty and prevent activist and political opposition from expressing solidarity with the victim’s family and stage their outrage and protest over the gross violation of fundamental rights of the victim and the family. The way the dead body of the victim was disposed off in the dead of the night in a hurry clearly exhibits the denial of basic human rights and dignity to the victim and her family. Besides, the use of the state machinery to protect the criminals is clearly visible in the manner the police and the administration behaved with the victim and the protestors.  

This is why in 2020 India, it would not be an exaggeration to say that we have sunk several light-years into darkness.  The dismissal of the news about the rape victim as fake news, the denial of good medical attention in the early stages, the ridiculous declaration of the lack of semen in the private parts of the victim after more than 12 days in the post-mortem report as a proof to claim that there was no rape, the shunning aside of the dying declaration of the victim, the crime of disposal of the body of the victim without the consent of the family under the cover of darkness,  the shameless attempt to force the family to change their statement through intimidation and pressure,  prevention of the activists and the media from reaching out to the bereaved family exhibits that democracy and our nation is going to dark days. 

The heinous crimes in Hathras are glaring brazenly in front of our eyes. The administration shows no remorse as it uses law, police force and administration to protect the perpetrators of the crime of gang rape and heinous murder.  It is indeed astonishing to see that the law is being bent backwards to provide cover to the criminal belonging to the upper caste in 21st century India.  It almost drives home Shakespeare’s sense of time in Hamlet as out of joint.  Indeed the time is truly out of joint. Something is not adding up. Live seem to become unlivable in our society.

The audacious state support to the criminals raises several questions and is nothing short of provoking outrage in us. All denials of fundamental human rights to the victim and its family lead to a question: whose life is grievable? The manner in which these disturbing events unfolded demonstrates that the Dalits lives are ungrievable and therefore less worthy of protection and can be disposed to suit the interest of the upper caste.  

The only silver lining that we can find in the evolving tragic crimes in Hathras is the Suo Motto cognition of the illegal cremation of the victim on 1st Oct 2020 by the Lucknow high court. But even after this intervention the manner in which the administration handles the case shows that it is following caste code and not the code of law. 

Hathras is a Lok Sabha constituency. It is a town in Uttar Pradesh and is few hours away from our capital Delhi.  The fact the horrific crime occurs in such a well-connected place and the manner in which it is sought to be buried to engineer a miscarriage of justice to the victim and her family has to become our concern and has to compel us to express our outrage. The distressing events in Hathras have rightly triggered protest and activists and political opposition of the ruling dispensation have taken to the streets. 

The atrocities on the Dalit community have a long history in our country but the events in Hathras seem to have crossed all limits as the upper caste and the state itself has become the enemy of the victim and her family. The decivility and the cruelty that the victim and her family are facing calls us to resist this totalitarian force crushing the victim and its family. The family of the victim is not under arrest but practically is being locked into their home and cannot meet their lawyers and others that express support and solidarity.  Their mobile phone being snatched away from them and are denied all contact with the outside world. The fact that all access to the world is denied simultaneously becomes the denial of justice.  These violations have practically reduced the victims to criminal. 

Sane citizens of our country cannot allow the criminalization of the state machinery to gain social legitimacy. The dehumanization that the victim and her family are going through is dehumanizing each one of us.  This is why we have the challenge to seek to humanize and stand in solidarity with the victim’s family. It is by humanizing the victim and her family that we humanize ourselves. We become what we do to others.  This means I am my relation to the other. It is only by giving justice to the victim and her family that we can re-humanize our society. Otherwise, we stand to socially legitimize monstrosity.

 India In 2020 cannot tolerate the criminalization of the state.  Our liveable life in our society is derailed and it is our challenge to make life liveable again. All lives are grievable. There are no lives that are ungreivable. This is why the life of the Dalit girl is grievable and cannot be disposed of away the manner in which it was done.  The fact the police and the state machinery failed to make room for the victim family to grieve the tragedy that struck them like a thunder bold calls us to stand for grievability of all lives.  

The locking of the family in their home and cutting them away from everyone is continuing to deny them the right to grieve the loss of their beloved daughter.  The denial of justice itself is a denial of greivability. The entire drama that is unfolding in front of us is the upper caste trying to avoid grieving their sons who are caught by the long hand of the law for raping a girl.  To avoid their grieving they have tried hard in collusion with the Government to deny the legitimate grieving to the victim’s family. It is for us to resist this injustice and restore the dislocated joint of time. 

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GREETINGS

Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao