26 Sunday
July 2020
Normalisation of the bizzare.

Once upon a time we believed that truth will prevail, bad acts will be punished, weak will be saved and the wrong shall go to jail.

Year on year, we have been seeing so many acts of brazen power play,that gradually we are becoming immune to the bizzare. We read, realise that was not supposed to happen, expect nothing better, and move over to the next headline.

The issue of Dr Kafeel, the paediatrician posted in Gorakhpur hospital in 2017. He came to the limelight as the man who arranged Oxygen cylinders from his own contacts when the government hospital did not pay the vendor 68 lakh rupees due to him and the vendor after many warnings finally stopped the oxygen supply. This doctor’s action saved many lives that day, but more than 60 children died. Media initially hailed him as a hero, but some unknown twist of fate had him arrested and kept in jail for many months, before the enquiry commission gave him a clean chit and declared his actions heroic. Despite that over the last 3 years, Dr Kafeel has been in and out of jail on flimsy grounds for new and imagined pretexts. #DrKafeelKoRihaKaro is tweeted so often that one wonders who exactly is so upset with him in Uttar pradesh.

There have been multiple incidents of rapes, where the rapist is given protection not only by the police and ruling party, there were rallies taken out with chants of BMKJ and Indian flag waving as if we were applauding a hero. So low have we fallen in our moral code that whether the victim was an 8 year child of Kathua, a teenager from Unnao, a student in a law college ….our police, politicians, powers stand brazenly on the side of the accused. How will they face God when they meet their creator? Probably they know it’s unlikely for them to go to heaven, so they are creating hell on earth.

The man who burnt one Unnao rape victim while she was going to court. The man who got another Unnao rape victim into ICU while killing half her family. The judge who has put the victim of gang rape in jail, while keeping the accused out on bail. The famous swamy who’s actions were caught on tape is out on bail while his victim languishes in jail on charges of blackmail.These incidents happen with impunity and such regularity that the mind has become numb. We do not expect justice anymore. We simply read, shrug and accept the new reality of India.

Once we were shocked when a man was killed on fake rumours that there was beef in his refrigerator. (India continues to be the world’s leading exporter of beef though we aren’t allowed to store, sell or eat it) Many lynchings have happened sometime for wearing a certain cap, sometimes for not chanting a particular religious slogan.Instead of punishment, when we see the lynchers being garlanded, draped with the Indian flag, hailed as a hero, something inside us dies a little.

Normalisation of lynchings is such that once they happened against a particular religion, now police officers, sadhus, random people are lynched. Because we stopped being shocked, lynching deaths became the new normal.

The Hyderabad rapists were encountered in an early morning judicial killing and the whole country breathed a sigh of relief. Not one person was surprised when Vikas Dubey was killed in judicial custody another early morning when the media accompanying his vehicle was stopped 15 minutes prior to the “accident”. Encounter is the new form of instant justice… surprise then that normal people are accidentally bumped off by some trigger happy police.

Judiciary takes suo moto cognizance of one man’s tweets, but chooses to ignore media reports of thousands of migrants walking home. It gives bail to screaming TV personality but doesnt think that Kashmiri people have rights to 4G internet a year after shut-down.

First they go after a particular sect. Then against women (that’s 50% of the population) because that’s how patriarchal society must remain. Then against anyone who stands up to them or has a different point of view. Even a website which asked for climate action got labelled a terrorist and charged under UAPA.

The bully will not stop as long as we remain silent. People have a moral compass to differentiate right from wrong. To know the difference between justice and oppression.

To remain silent is to support the oppressor. Please speak out friends. India needs a massive overhaul of it’s policing and judiciary. Police needs to be removed from the clutches of politicians, and judiciary has to be streamlined and time bound with a self regulatory mechanism in place.

We cannot keep quiet when victims keep suffering and the accused are shielded. Let’s keep asking uncomfortable questions, even if no one is answering. When will Dr Kafeel be released? When will the Kathua rapist be hanged under the new POCSO law? When will the Swamy go back to jail? When will lynching and encounters end?

Ask. Until that is made a punishable offence in free India.

Jai hind.
Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT surgeon Gurgaon