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I don’t think there is a better word than ‘hatred’ to describe the current atmosphere the country is enveloped in (Raptors of Hatred, April 30). India is really faced with the politics of fear and subjugation. Hatred is a form of poison injecting slowly into the secular and democratic fabric of the nation. What played out after the brutal rape in Kathua was an orchestrated attempt to perpetuate the politics of polarisation and division among communities. While the nation bows its head in shame, the tragedy is that a number of people can be seen comparing this incident with other incidents of rape and killing in a dizzying volley of whataboutery. Such people have been rendered blind by the politics of hatred. The public support of two BJP ministers for the accused is shameful. Acts like these attack any remaining sense of morality and pluralism in society. The only hope that remains at this juncture of fear and hatred is people like Jammu lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat, counsel for the victim’s family, who is bravely fighting the apostles of communal polarisation.
P.A. Jacob, Muscat
It’s shocking that on the one hand, PM Narendra Modi is seen promoting a campaign called ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, and on the other hand, the budget for the Nirbhaya fund is being cut by his government. The PM’s silence on both Kathua and Unnao is shameful. Reports reveal that a good number of BJP politicians have been booked, accused or even charge-sheeted over the past few years in incidents involving crimes against women in various states. Former editor of the RSS mouthpiece Organiser Dr R. Balashankar’s column in your magazine, Rape Doesn’t Have A Colour—where he tried to shift the ‘blame’ by stating that the two BJP ministers who attended the rally held in support of the accused in Jammu were former Congress ministers—is also shameful. Though immediately after his London tour, the PM forced the Union Cabinet to tighten laws around rape—by introducing the death penalty for those who rape minors below the age of 12—this ordinance is at best a populist gimmick by the government to blunt the criticism against it.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad
What have we become! I was beyond shocked when I heard about the Kathua rape. It made me realise that you can ban content on TV, films, pornography, whatever you want, but you can’t change the mentality of society. Only stringent laws and the fear of punishment can make a difference now, but I’m sorry to say we are many levels behind in that respect. Imagine the horror the child went through in that temple. I can’t even imagine that. India needs to do something before it is too late. We need to change the way we think radically. We pretend to respect goddesses but have no respect for our women. We all need to step forward—if you find someone misbehaving with a woman, do something.
Kamal Anil Kapadia, Mumbai
Medical science has made great progress over the years in treating diseases like malaria, dengue and HIV, but what of the malaise in society that makes people monsters? We surely are a diseased society and there appears to be no cure in sight. Is it not a strong slap in the face of modern civilisation, considering we have not yet spelled out the causes and the characteristic symptoms of the ‘toxic emitters’ who turn men into monsters? Should we still wait to work out tough laws? Or should we rather investigate our cultures for the causes of this sick disease?
Salil Gewali, Shillong
The two rapes—in Kathua, Jammu and Unnau, UP—have shaken the conscience of the nation yet again. The last time such outrage was seen was in 2012 at the time of the Nirbhaya case. These horrific crimes have laid to rest all claims of civilisational superiority that have become a leitmotif of political rhetoric in this country. These two crimes stand out not because they are in themselves extraordinary events—unfortunately, rapes of minors and systemic sexual abuse are realities we encounter everyday in the newspapers—but because they are connected by a thread of vile politics.
In both these cases, political interests, the police, the bureaucracy and lawyers have sought to protect the accused. Any goodwill that the BJP earned from its ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign, stands annulled by the response of its supporters and ministers to these horrible crimes.
Prakash Hanspaul, On E-Mail
While the rape and murder of women must be condemned and the perpetrators must receive expedited trials, the attempts of opposition parties to depict such crimes as occurring only after the Modi government came to power cannot be condoned. This hatred is inherent in society and and is not restricted to any particular community as your cover story wants us to believe. Every community has a complaint about how it was treated by others, and while these may be at least partially grounded in fact, such complaints also give political advantages to the concerned groups and to those who they wish to see in power.
Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao, Vijayawada
Jammu-based lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat, who is fighting, undeterred by threats to her own life, to obtain justice for the girl who was raped and murdered in Kathua, is a heroine—and we need many more such heroines in these times of haivaniyat. The government has done well to make capital punishment mandatory for child rapists. Often, it is argued that capital punishment is ineffective as a deterrent. But by that measure, we should scrap the Code of Criminal Procedure as there is no way to tell whether or not a law is working as a deterrent. If a crime is not widespread but contained, it may safely be said that the law is working as a punishment as well as a deterrent. Humanitarian arguments are also put forth against capital punishment, but these are best kept aside in the case of rapists who are worse than beasts.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
Although I would like to agree with the reasoning in Rape Doesn’t Have A Colour, I must point out that there are two glaring exacerbating factors in modern society. First, communal politics is being used for the sake of the votebank, causing people to become polarised and turn against each other. Girls end up being an easy target for this stimulated hatred. Second, the political world must desist from using its influence to save the offenders. As offences like rape are testament to social aberration, civil society elders ought to advise and warn people about this underlying negativity and the long-term impact it can have on society and the country’s development.
Lt Col (Retd) Ranjit Sinha, Calcutta
We live in times where hatred has engulfed all sense of humanity; victims are mere pawns.
Deepa Shekhawat, On E-Mail
The editorial comment, Till Messiah Come, Again, and the cover story, specially Harsh Mander’s interview: ‘Not Sick, We’re Intoxicated, It Is Like A Heroin High On Hatred’, will not touch the hardened sensibilities of those leaders who have donned blinkers to see nothing else except the path for success of their own political careers at whatever cost to the country (April 30). The open endorsement of a majoritarian politics by the government is the reason attributed by Mander for the speedy spread of this horrendous cancer. Political leadership, of whatever colour, cannot escape their responsibility for nurturing hatred by dividing the people in the name of religion, citing distorted facts. The looming danger is of such a great magnitude that the coming back of one Mahatma Gandhi will not make any difference unless all those still little conscious of human values get up boldly to save humanism through the route of the rule of law as per the Constitution. But that sacrosanct document too has practically collapsed due to the poisoning of the justice system at the roots, hence, rather than a messiah, we need an awakening of the people.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
After a string of victories in UP, Gujarat and the Northeast, the Karnataka polls will be fought very fiercely by the BJP to regain its toehold in the South. The EC must strictly adhere to the vote-count procedure in order to put to rest all fears of tampering in these polls. While Congress wants to halt the BJP at all costs in the state, a third contestant, the HD (Deve Gowda) father-son duo of the JD(S), will fight for political relevance. The Congress seems to be playing the identity and sub-nationalist card by portraying the BJP as a party that wants to impose Hindi in the state. Current CM Siddaramaiah has aggressively promoted Kannada and has even unveiled a separate state flag to make a point to the BJP. On the other hand, the BJP is relying on the Hindutva-influenced vote and has blamed the Congress for trying to divide the Hindu community, namely—the Lingayats and the Veerashaivas. It’s going to be a nail-biting election, only time will tell the winner.
L.J. Singh, On E-Mail
This is about Outlook’s interview with former attorney-general Soli Sorabjee (Impeachment of CJI is nonsensical...., Apr 30). Even before the ink dried on the latest issue of your magazine and this interview, which dealt with the move by seven opposition parties to impeach the CJI, the event became a closed chapter before it reached the reader. The chairman of the Rajya Sabha had to cut down his trip to Hyderabad, rush back and hold urgent talks with the Attorney-General and other eminent jurists before he rejected the opposition motion. We only hope the same sense of exigency visits the millions of cases that are stuck in courts all over India, bringing some cheer to the hoi polloi.
N. Venkataraman, Hyderabad
Of the three pillars of government, it is the judiciary in which people have the greatest faith. It is the Supreme Court which delivered the judgment to protect the basic structure of our Constitution and the fundamental rights of our people. It breathed life into Article 21 by expanding the meaning of the words ‘right to life’. The opposition might not like some SC decisions, as in the matter of Justice Loya, but they can’t expect the court to deliver judgements that would always warm the cockles of their hearts. The judiciary’s integrity has already been compromised by the ill-advised move of the four seniormost judges who went public pointing fingers at the CJI. But with the CJI retiring shortly and with the more sensitive cases like Aadhaar and Ram Janmabhoomi coming before them, the opposition is just scared that the judgments could go in the BJP’s favour. The judiciary is the strongest pillar of our democracy, and the opposition must refrain from demonising it.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, On E-Mail
At one level, the attempt to impeach the CJI should be looked into and not be dismissed out of hand on principle, as seems to have been done. The more the concentration of power and the wider the latitude of discretion, the higher the chance of corruption seeping into the system. None of the four estates can be unquestionably deemed sacrosanct unless so felt on the touchstone of common sense. Our founding fathers wisely evolved a system of checks and balances, yet that is under threat by dark forces who are out to compromise it on every occasion. It is ideally the job of the media to chastise erratic persons and institutions, but, often plagued by fear or greed, they do little. Much of what is rotten in governance is due to lack of accountability at all levels.
J.N. Bhartiya, Hyderabad
A desperate Congress party is fast losing the little credibility it is left with; the recent fiasco over the attempted impeachment of the CJI is another move that backfired. The judiciary must not be touched sans strong evidence by any party. It is the judiciary that checks the alleged wrongs of a ruling government, is independent and has not lost credibility in the eyes of the public yet. To regain its political credentials, the Congress should adopt an ‘attack less, build more’ attitude. If it keeps going with blinders after the party at the Centre, it will only end up giving political advantage to its opponents.
Mahesh Kumar, On E-Mail
It should be clear by now to the public that the judiciary is under great stress and its independence is under threat as never before. This is the moment of truth for the judiciary, the Bar and the wider society on what they do to ‘forestall’ the government from undermining the powers of the country’s top court. The members of the judiciary are obliged to resist the government’s attempts at riding roughshod over the institution. Needless to say, the reduction of the apex court’s independent status to a wing, an extension or an appendage of the government will imperil democracy.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra’s near-endorsement of the government’s return of the Collegium proposal with respect to Justice K.M. Joseph’s elevation as an SC judge lends credence to the perception that he is playing second fiddle to the government for reasons best known to him. He stopped short of saying that the government has the right of veto. The press conference held by four senior judges-cum-members of the Collegium earlier this year expressing concern for the judiciary and the impeachment motion moved by Opposition MPs and its subsequent disallowal by Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu are disturbing truths.
The ostensible reasons offered for not promoting Justice Joseph are not convincing. It is well known that he quashed the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand in 2016, an act that was ‘unpalatable’ to the BJP. The ‘pick-and-choose’ policy in the appointment of judges to the apex court will invite the charge of favouritism and cause irreparable damage to the country’s most sacrosanct institution. The Collegium should show strength of character, resend its recommendation to the government and assert its authority to appoint judges.
G. David Milton, Maruthancode
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