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HindustanTimes Wed,26 Nov 2014
Comfortably numb? Badaun cousins' rape, murder didn't shake up India
KumKum Dasgupta, Hindustan Times
July 22, 2014
First Published: 11:09 IST(22/7/2014)
Last Updated: 11:36 IST(22/7/2014)
Demonstrators protest against Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav in Katra Sadatganj, Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh, where two girls were gang-raped and murdered. (AFP Photo)

For those who are worried over the rising number of rapes in India, acting Uttar Pradesh governor 74-year-old Aziz Qureshi, whose mission in life is to "wipe out every tear from each eye ..... to serve suffering humanity", has a very handy pill for staying composed. The grand old man of Congress lineage said on Monday that even if the entire police force is deployed, rapes will not stop. "Only god can stop rapes in the country," Qureshi announced grandly.

This bizarre explanation may anger you and me, but for people like Samajwadi Party boss Mulayam Singh Yadav such stuff comments are god-send: only last week, Yadav claimed that his state - with a population of 21 crore - has the lowest number of rapes. Well, in a way, he is right; the huge population can often work out to his advantage because it can mask the numbers.

But even then if you check the 2013 National Crime Records Bureau data, eight rapes happen per day in the state. But then there are several others that go unreported or thanks to shoddy investigation, it reaches a dead end.

Read: UP governor maybe only gods can stop rapes

Take for example, the horrific Badaun case: on May 27, two young girls who went missing a day earlier were found "raped" and murdered. Their bodies were found hanging from a tree.

Initially, the police confirmed rape and arrested three Yadav men. But a few days later, the state's top cop said that one of the girls was not raped and it seemed "to be a case of honour killing". A second autopsy was ordered and that meant exhuming the two bodies. But on July 21, the CBI called off exhumation because the bodies were found submerged in Ganga water.

While Badaun was big news when the incident happened - even the photo of the bodies hanging from the tree was shared and circulated - despite its brutality it failed to galvanise the public like it did after the December 16 gang-rape in Delhi and the ongoing protests in Bangalore over the alleged rape of a six-year-old girl.

Read: CBI shelves exhumation as Ganga rises

My Facebook timeline is full friends writing against Israel's relentless pounding of Gaza and the deaths of children there. While this is perfectly understandable, I wonder why they don't feel the same angst when it comes to cases like Badaun, and how shoddy investigation has almost ensured no justice for the two young girls.

While it is difficult to say what moves people to react in the way they did after December 16 - on brutality meter the Badaun case was as brutal as the one in Delhi - this sheer lack of interest on what is happening in far-flung areas of the country is absolutely galling. Or is it that there is a pervasive feeling that UP and the northern states are like that only: attacks on women are a way of life. Of course, these conclusions only get stronger when leaders make irresponsible comments about rape cases and we have had plenty of them coming from UP.

But I feel there is only one explanation for this disinterest in cases like Badaun; we just don't care as long as it doesn't happen in our backyard. Possibly, Gaza is closer home than Badaun.

@kumkumdasgupta

(Views expressed by the author are personal)


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