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When the fetters go berserk

When the fetters go berserk

It is high time every Indian asked with self-contempt whether we are trudging towards a situation where even a speck of humanity doesn't survive.

When the brigade of fanatic goons takes over the rein of the society by beating people to death over mere rumours and by ripping apart the modesty of even young children and celebrating it through social media, it is the Supreme Court that questions why nobody is 'bothered'. A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit on Friday expressed concern why nobody seemed to be bothered even when barbarity has crossed all limits. The court's observation came while hearing the case which demanded putting in check the lunatics who circulate the video recordings of sexual assaults on social media. It had asked the internet search engines and social media platforms such as Google, Yahoo India private Limited, Microsoft Corporation (India), Facebook and WhatsApp their views about curbing their misuse. It was foreseeing all this that the court criticised the negligence of the government that is responsible for maintaining law and order in the country.

However, we cannot fail to realise that it is not only a few people or the mob who are afflicted with lunacy but the fetters which should restrain the maniacs. Even after the Supreme Court gave stringent orders on mob lynchings to the central government, brutal murders are continuing. A report from Muzaffarpur, Bihar which surfaced the very next day after the apex court made observations regarding different ways to curb the spread of sexual violence, shatters every soul. A group of people have been sexually exploiting 34 women between the ages 7-18 living at a state government-funded child shelter home by drugging and physically assaulting the women. A dozen of the girl inmates who were subjected to severe cruelty including burned private parts have lost their mental balance. The remaining of them suffer from fear and anxiety disorders.

The Social Welfare Ministry had entrusted the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai for a social audit in the beginning of the year – presumably based on the complaints raised against a dozen centres among 110 shelter homes for women and girls in the state. The shocking revelations came to light in the report submitted by TISS in April this year. Despite the reports that almost all the 44 girl inmates in the child shelter home were sexually abused, the Government action moved at a snail's pace. On May 31, the Social Welfare Department had lodged an FIR in the Muzaffarpur police station demanding 'appropriate action' against those responsible for the miserable plight of the girls. On June 2, Brajesh Thakur, the chief of NGO Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti - which had taken over the facility from the government to run it on contract - was arrested on June 2. It was following this that the girls were subjected to medical examination.

Thakur, the man in charge of the cshelter house is no small fry. One with close links to BJP-Janata Dal (U) leadership, he has contested the Assembly polls twice with NDA support. Running a namesake daily newspaper close to the centre, and using his vantage point, he was making the shelter house a haven of torture by the higher ups of the society. Many including the husband of the minister of the portfolio and the chairperson of the district child welfare committee, are accused in the case. Due to this reason, when the Opposition demanded that CBI should be entrusted with the enquiry, for if the state government makes an enquiry it will not get anywhere, chief minister Nitish Kumar had no alternative but to concede that.

Not only that because of the complicity of the bigwigs the case was delayed, in the meantime the culprits were continuing the horrific act. That being the case, whether the CBI enquiry as recommended by the state government will materialize and if so how far that will go, remain question marks. The National Human Rights Commission has asked for explanation from the Nitish government. But in a place where even the Supreme Court verdict is not heeded, what value does the Commission notice carry? It is yet made clear by the government - which should show respect for the life of citizens – whether it stands by the perpetrator or the victim. And as long as that does not become clear, the land will but turn a hell by each day.

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