Hear, See, Speak no evil
SOCIETY'S BIG SIN Is it only the police and the media that triggered Jalandhar girl Shivali's alleged recent suicide? No. It is the society which is primarily responsible for the girl taking this extreme step. Khushwant Singh writeschandigarh Updated: Sep 10, 2012 17:39 IST
The incident in Jalandhar, whereby a girl committed suicide after being humiliated and harassed by police and media, just because she was out with a male friend, is horrifying. Not only does this incident need condemnation from family and friends of the victim, but a very bold condemnation from society itself, which unfortunately has turned into a blind, dumb and deaf collection of people.
Yes, society per say, seems to have taken Bapu's monkey business far too seriously that it sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil (kitty parties excluded). In other words, it has become impotent, has lost its revolutionary zeal (if there was any) and has reduced itself to drawing room, Twitter and Facebook activism.
It has surrendered its collective power of condemning the wrong and standing up for the right to being smug. Something entirely opposite to what ancient wisdom taught us. Haven't we all read the power of the five-finger fist as opposed to one finger?
No, I am not provoking you into the Zindabad-Murdabad mode for that's the kind of activism politicians promote. But every citizen must awaken to the fact that it is not only his duty to stand up, but also in his interest. Tomorrow, it could be anyone's daughter throwing herself on the rail track.
Yes, and the institutions involved in instigating such a tragedy are two very responsible pillars of the country. One is the police, the state itself, and the other, the fourth estate. Interestingly, none of them has the mandate to be a moral police. The job of the police is to enforce law and order and the media's is to inform and enlighten its audience through the medium of news (North, East, West, South = News). The problem with the media is that the collectors of news, whom we call journalists, are trying to create news, out of, what they think is news.
With no specialised training, the diverse backgrounds of media men rather than working as an advantage is becoming a challenge when deciding what constitutes news. We are decoding news not according to what defines it, but with the personal baggage we have been brought up with.
Coming back to the society, is it only the police and the media that triggered the suicide? No. It is the society which is primarily responsible for the girl taking this extreme step.
Society unfortunately has developed a kind of an oxymoron syndrome, which is very disturbing indeed. For example, it would have damned the girl's picture with her male friend in much larger measure than it has her harassment. It would not have seen reason and stood up to say, 'Hey, so what's the big deal if a girl was with a boy? Isn't that normal. We condemn this act of the police and the news.'
I remember an incident from college. I was wearing an Osho robe and driving a friend, who was a girl, back home. It was around 1 am when the Chandigarh police stopped us. Seeing my unusual dress, the police thought we were from some Haji Mastan's gang and asked us to step down from the car. I firmly told the cops to first inform the girl's father before I could let her step out of the car. She had no objection to this. The point I am making is that her parents had raised her in a manner whereby she could confidently call them up and say she is being harassed because she was with a guy. Sadly, such folks are in minority.
Had the girl, who died, had confidence that the society will not damn her, a young life would have been saved. Shame!
Fauja for Sin City
Last week, marathon runner Fauja Singh, 101, was declared as the oldest traveller from Gatwick Airport, UK. As an award, he was given two tickets by British Airways to holiday in Las Vegas. Just wondering what would Fauja's reaction be on landing in the Sin City?
Punjabi by nature is a fortnightly column. The columnist is a Punjab-based author and journalist.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org