I was in second grade when my mom first explained to me the difference between a “good touch” and a “bad touch”. I was taught to avoid deserted areas and be careful in the crowded ones.
I was taught to believe a few but trust, even fewer, almost close to none. I was taught that freedom is a luxury entitled to a gender; I knew not the pleasure of being born as.
Since ages, we have been teaching our daughters to be careful, careful of the demons lurking in the darkness and sometimes even in broad daylight. We constantly devise new ways to keep our daughters safe.
From teaching them various forms of self defense techniques to making it imperative for them to carry a bottle of pepper spray or a pen knife, no matter where they go, to having a say over the kind of clothes they wear, people they meet to adapting strict restraining orders on the amount of time they spend outside their safe haven – home and mind you! Deadlines can never be broken.
But then, girls have been the sweetest creatures as well. They have never budged from this life they have been introduced to, because in a way they have been made to believe that Democracy might be the key of our society but patriarchy is the root.
Asifa Bano, an eight year old girl, who in a way puts humanity to shame with reference to the ordeal she went through, has become a household name today. A resident of Kathua, a prime location in Jammu Kashmir, a place known for its heavenly beauty and of course the place which bears the brutal end of the ever rising tension between India and Pakistan.
When I Googled Kathua – places to visit, out of the ten destinations which popped up, about four to five were holy places. I was never an atheist. I was always taught that god commands the universe and it’s because of him that the world is in order.
No matter what goes wrong in our life, in the darkest hour, we turn to god. But I am not so sure anymore. Not to be very philosophical, but have you ever wondered, in those four days when Asifa wished for death a little more than life, when she failed to understand the crux of the situation, when she could actually feel the life seeping out of her, who might she have turned to.
She was in a shrine after all. The place where we mortals find ourselves closest to god. I think it’s safe to say that is an answer we will never know.
It was a bright morning while Asifa was out in the fields, having taken her horses out for grazing, that she fell prey to a deadly plan concocted by a local named, Sanji Ram who hoped, the plan would help in getting rid of the nomadic tribes in the area, the same one Asifa belonged to. Very comfortably one of the men kidnapped her and dragged her to a small, nearby shrine where she was drugged, locked up and repeatedly gang raped for four days.
And if this wasn’t enough, the mastermind of this plan contacted his son so that he too could have his way with her. And India boasts about imparting values of respecting woman and treating them as an equal to the boys of the nation. How animalistic can someone be, to even think of something like this, let alone do it.
After this heinous crime, they finally strangled her with her own scarf, and bashed her skull with a rock and left her to rot away in the forest. Her body was found three days later. The most surprising thing was that out of the seven men who were charged for the crime, four of them were police officers.
One of the noblest jobs is that of a police officer, or so I have been taught. But I don’t really trust all the things I have been taught till date, so I will give this a slip as well.
Since this crime, the lawyers of the accused have had a lot to say. They brought up the age old Hindu-Muslim conflict stating that while Asifa was a Muslim, her assailants were Hindus and they were being framed.
The mastermind’s lawyer went so far as to say that the suspects are innocent and that they didn’t know who killed the “poor” girl, the same “poor” girl they raped repeatedly for four days.
They brought up concepts about some kind of twisted conspiracy about the “demographic invasion” of the Muslims in the area. Two BJP leaders attended rallies in favor of the accused.
Even though they were forced to resign, what does that say about us as a country? Our lawmakers and protectors are the ones we ultimately need protection from?
There has been an insane chaos amidst the public regarding the same. The country has come together to demand justice for yet another one of its daughters. Associations have come together, candle marches have been conducted, and letters have been written to the prime-minister claiming this to be the “darkest hour since independence”.
But farther away, the valleys and fields of Kathua still call out for its dear, dear friend Asifa. She has imprinted her smile, her laugh, her happiness, her terrors, her life, her death on the almost silent town of Kathua. Her family no longer live in the same place, they used to and the shrine stands locked.
Her absence is felt strikingly by all those who had the pleasure of knowing and loving her. Asifa Bano has left us but not without some questions, questions that demand our attention sooner rather than later.
Every girl out there is one of a kind. And the country cannot lose another Asifa to this lethal race – mankind.
Feature Image Credit: Source