Open Letter | Is This The Justice You Wanted, Ms Bachchan?

An open letter to Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan who in the Parliament said that rapists should be "brought out in public and lynched".

Open Letter | Is This The Justice You Wanted, Ms Bachchan?

Dear Ms Bachchan,

You stood in the Parliament and said "public lynching" of rapists was the only way to stop the recurrence of such heinous crimes. Another parliamentarian, TMC's Mimi Chakraborty, too, echoed your sentiment, saying, "Immediate punishment is needed."

You must be satisfied now, the accused have been killed, if not by ‘public lynching’ but something quite close, ‘police encounter’. It must soothe your soul that people are showering rose petals at the site of the killing. But will it really stop, once and for all, all forms of rape? Will it stop the everyday discrimination that women face? Will this act of Telangana police instil so much fear in the mind of "potential rapists" that they would think twice before prowling around women?

How could the two lawmakers, entrusted by the people to guard the law, possibly think about handing it over to the public? We all were equally shocked when we heard of the 27-year-old Telangana veterinarian's gruesome rape and murder. We all wanted justice to be delivered at the earliest. We all wanted the culprits to be taught a lesson.

But an encounter is no justice. A public lynching is no solution to a mind that still treats women as their property. Police encounters are not a new thing in India, where mob justice has gained the approval of the masses and even those in power. There is no empirical evidence to corroborate your assertion that public lynching could or will dramatically reduce any form of crime in society. Do the police decide if someone is guilty or not? Is the judicial system to be completely circumvented in case of heinous crimes because the process takes too long? Couldn’t the police decide tomorrow that this kind of justice works faster for less heinous crimes too?

On Friday, India woke up to the news that all four "accused" in the Telanagana rape and murder case had been killed in an encounter.

Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar said they had been killed in the "crossfire between 3-6 AM.” "They fired upon the police team and we retaliated in self-defence. Two of our men are also injured in the incident," a source was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

One just wonders how it all must have unfolded. Did all of them try to snatch arms from the police? Were the accused not handcuffed? Were all of them able to execute a plan to escape so well that the police had no other option but to kill them? Could they have been shot in the leg?

Gripped by emotions and urge for "immediate punishment", let's not turn our back on the constitution, the book that guards the rights of all humans. What the Telangana police did in the wee hours of Friday qualifies as nothing but "extrajudicial killings", something police of different states have been notoriously involved in before. The accused weren't yet proven guilty by the court of law.

Rajyavardhan Rathore, the BJP MP, was quick to congratulate Hyderabad police on their act. "I congratulate the Hyderabad police and the leadership that allows the police to act like police Let all know this is the country where good will always prevail over evil (Disclaimer for holier than thou- police acted swiftly in self defence)," Rathore tweeted.

His tweet contains a disclaimer for "holier than thou", those who are questioning the encounter. But it causes even more damage as he joins the list of Parliamentarians, who approve of such justice in the 21st century.

At a time when lynchings are becoming increasingly normal and the accused are being garlanded, this approval by MPs sets a dangerous precedent to say the very least.

And for us in the media, we would do great justice to the nation by not tirelessly pursuing the families of women who have been subjected to such horrific crimes.

Immediately after the encounter was reported, interview bites of approval from the father of the Telangana vet and the mother of Nirbhaya, the 23-year-old medical student who was brutally gang-raped on a moving bus in December 2012, poured in. They are content. "My daughter's soul must be at peace now," said the father of the Telangana vet. Their sentiments are not hard to understand for they have gone through.

But what happened today in Telangana is a horrible example to set and its approval by lawmakers will only make the police believe that they, too, can get away easily when acting on the sentiment and outrage of the people at large. The police acted. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandasekhar Rao must, now.