by ASHRAF LONE
We are living in darker times and these are turning more darker with each passing day. The killing of children in conflict zones like Kashmir, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan is continuing with no stop to these. From 2008 onwards in Kashmir we have seen in popular uprisings, how children have been killed and blinded by state-backed forces. Year after year, we are losing innocent children for no fault of their own. Thousands of children have become victims of these brutal conflicts. Children have also been subjected to sexual exploitation and sexual harassment around the world. These heinous crimes show how much our society has degraded. With so much progress on a materialistic level, but morally, the society is going downside.
The year 2018 started with the brutal rape and murder of a 7-year girl child named Zainab, in Kasur, Pakistan. According to reports, Zainab was on her way to Quran recital, when she was abducted and raped and then murdered. The perpetrator of this heinous crime has been arrested thus, with the help of DNA test. According to a USA Today report, child sexual abuse is rampant in Pakistan and is rarely being addressed. The report can be said true of whole South Asia, where child sexual abuse is rarely addressed. The one report in the USA Today reads:
“Child pornography is readily available in CD shops” in Kasur, said lawyer Mohammad Waqas. “Videos from the 2015 scandal are still in markets. The parents whose children were taped … were silenced by the powerful people in the area.”
When we were still gripping with this heinous incident, a news about another child sexual abuse and murder came to fore. This time it was from Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district, where a child named Asifa was raped and then murdered. But in Asifa’s case, not much outrage could be seen on social media and according to one relative, media published the news too late.
According to Zaffar Iqbal, a leader of Gujjar and Bakarwal Students Conference, this community of Gujjar and Bakarwals has always been ignored and only used for vote bank politics.
Looking at this matter from the caste and class angle, it clearly shows how casteism and class consciousness is deeply ingrained in our minds. How we, while calling ourselves the followers of Islam, the religion of peace and equality, ignore a heinous crime perpetrated on “low caste” Bakarwal community. This has exposed our sick mentality and also exposed how casteist we are. We go aghast on a minor incident with the “celebrity” and celebrate every move of a celebrity kid, but keep criminal silence when it comes to some “lower class” or common person’s serious issue. A person who has no political or celebrity links has to toil before the state in South Asia to get justice and still there is least possibility that he/she would get justice.
The silence of the brigade of elite feminists and so-called intellectuals on this heinous crime has exposed their hypocrisy and casteist nature. The Asifa incident has also exposed us a whole, how we treat incidents or crimes on “lower class” or common people with different perspective and interest. The lesser mortals had always suffered at the hands of so-called “upper castes” and classes. The difference in treatment vis a vis “lower castes or classes” has always been there.
It was after continuous and prolonged protests of this particular community, that the culprit, a police official, who was also part of the investigating team, has now been arrested. It is also said that the said policeman used to harass, and beat the protesting people, demanding justice in Asifa’s case. It will be seen how police deal with the culprit, among its own, wearing a uniform and who had taken the oath for the protection of people. The involvement of a police official, a protector in this heinous crime has once again exposed the men in uniform. There are thousands of such cases in the J&K state against the men in uniform, but rarely anyone has been prosecuted. The victims are still unable to get justice.
The culprit in Zainab case has also been arrested. Both the criminals have confessed to their crimes. But both the cases have shown how police failed initially to get hold of the real culprits and this has exposed its lackadaisical approach.
The question in everybody’s mind now arises, that how much time will the investigation takes. The earlier experiences show that the investigation has taken a long time, and during this other crime of the same nature have happened continuously. And also sometimes, the real culprits have managed to hoodwink the police and justice system.
The involvement of other big actors cannot be ruled out. With child pornography rampant and easy availability and access of internet, it has made it easier. The government and law enforcing agencies should ensure that all culprits are brought to justice and justice be served at the earliest to set a good precedent for the future. Only a timely, fair and speedy probe and judgment can ensure to put stop to these kinds of heinous crimes in future to some extent. Zainab and Asifa would be looking towards us from heavens. They will demand answers from us in our conscience, about how we dealt with their abusers and murderers. We must ensure that we have good answers for these little angels. May these little angels, Zainab and Asifa rest in peace.
Author is alumni of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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