Kader Khan, 30, is a rich, young businessman who dabbled in film financing and was frequently spotted at Kolkata nightclubs with his model-turned-starlet girlfriend who had been with him for almost four years.
Life was harder for Pardeep Valmiki, 22. The son of Dalit farm labourers in
rural Haryana, Valmiki struggled to pass his Class 12 exams. He lives off his parents, and spends all his time biking with friends. The two men, who come from different ends of the social and economic spectrum, stand accused of the same crime: gang-rape.
Khan is accused of raping a mother of two at gunpoint in a moving car in Kolkata's upmarket Park Street.
Valmiki forced a 16-year-old Dalit girl into his house and raped her for an hour with his friend, while his sister-in-law and another friend stood guard. The traumatised victim set herself on fire and killed herself. What were they thinking?
"Easy, they both thought they would get away with it," said Dr Samir Parikh, director, Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences at Fortis Healthcare. "Despite the socio-economic disparity, both men are powerful in their social milieu, Khan because he was rich and Valmiki because his cousin was a policeman. Fearlessness, coupled with a complete lack of emotional stability, makes them believe their behaviour is completely normal and not a perversion," Parikh added.
Such men are usually without an emotional anchor. They lack a balanced value system where everyone - irrespective of gender, social status or caste - are treated as equals.
Women are easy targets of pent up aggression against everything that is going wrong with their lives. "It's not so much about sex as it is about dominance and proving to themselves that they are still in control," said Dr Rajesh Sagar, associate professor of psychiatry at All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Khan's girlfriend said in an interview he had appeared "absolutely normal" when she met him several times soon after the rape.
The rapid change in the social structure over the past two decades is also leaving people without a mooring. "In violent minds, stress, coupled with latent aggression, can find expression in sexual perversions such as rape," said Parikh.
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