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Punish only the culprit, please!

THE DAY Congress woke up from its slumber and vociferously raised the Mehar issue in the UP Assembly, albeit after her death, some legislators in the Opposition were scandalised as they failed to understand the sensitivity of the issue involved. For them it was a routine case of murder, so common in the countryside. They were heard discussing the unnecessary importance being given to such a trivial issue by the media. One of them even sarcastically quipped, ?Such incidents occur in villages almost every day to women who toil hard for their livelihood. There is no such outcry when they are killed or physically abused.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 23:58 IST

THE DAY Congress woke up from its slumber and vociferously raised the Mehar issue in the UP Assembly, albeit after her death, some legislators in the Opposition were scandalised as they failed to understand the sensitivity of the issue involved. For them it was a routine case of murder, so common in the countryside.

They were heard discussing the unnecessary importance being given to such a trivial issue by the media. One of them even sarcastically quipped, “Such incidents occur in villages almost every day to women who toil hard for their livelihood. There is no such outcry when they are killed or physically abused.

Why such a furore today for Mehar?” Their discussion only reaffirmed what has been repeatedly written in this column that our public representatives are not only insensitive, but irresponsible too.

Similarly, Congress decision to turn Mehar’s murder into a major poll plank in UP elections speaks volumes about how politicians can turn pallbearers to build vote banks on pyres. Before Congress goes for statewide demonstrations on the issue, it would need to answer reasons for their total apathy to Mehar’s plight till she breathed her last at Apollo.

It is not the politicians alone, but many in the public also feel that media’s focus on Mehar and Jessica is not only out of proportion but also because they were Page 3 celebrities/socialites. It is definitely not so.

Mehar and Jessica cases are not only true life pictures of atrocities committed on women, whenever they resist or fight social evils like eve-teasing, rape, dowry, child marriage etc, but also the growing menace of criminalisation of politics. How easy it is today to get away with murder? One needs to know the right people or have right connections.

The end result is an all-pervasive fear in the society. The common refrain in the post-Mehar scenario today is, “Don’t take cudgels with criminals till you are willing to die.”

How sad, the civil society, which burnt candles to get Mehar justice, is now dying only because they lack confidence in our police, and more in themselves.

Many may scorn at this presumption as they underestimate their united strength. If they could force the police to reopen Jessica Lall case, if they could force the police and politicians to initiate action in Mehar case, they can also force the authorities to punish the real accused with or without Godfather. Once this happens, the criminals will be forced to think twice before pulling the trigger.

How unfortunate though people took to streets to display their anger against the state administration on their failure to nab the culprits in Mehar case, they did not come forward when two helpless women were crying for help near the busy  Mankameshwar temple. The boys, not only smashed their car’s windows and took away the stereo system, but also knocked down the elderly woman by their speeding vehicle. This way they could silence her from seeking help.

Perhaps it’s high time police do something to instil confidence in the people or that day is not far when the latter would take law into their hands in a typically Bollywood style to grab justice.

Take the Mehar case, how all have joined hands to save the main culprits. Till her death the two prime accused in the case were Sachin Pahadi and Amit Singh. No other names were there. Police had efficiently rounded up two boys, who were with Amit and Sachin at the time of the incident at Dilipur House but failed to catch the two main accused. Till then no fifth name had figured in the case.

Now neither of the two is seemingly involved, if Luv Bhargava could be believed. One really wonders if Luv Bhargava is under some pressure and if so, whose? It is hard to easily believe his word if one goes by the background of the major players. Rawat, who is now the person who shot Mehar, has no criminal record (now he gets one) and is son of a domestic servant. Both Sachin and Amit (though SSP is trying hard to convince all that Amit and Sachin are two names of same person) have history sheet, one hails from Pithoragarh, the other from Mughalsarai. They have the right connections. It is also said that they are providers of muscle power to several builders in city.

Kavita, Luv Bhargava’s daughter-in-law, is the main witness as well as the victim in the case. Mehar died as she dared to resist the lewd comments passed at her. However, Kavita, after her initial statement that Amit Singh had pulled the trigger has suddenly gone quiet. No one is questioning her, no one is asking her to identify Rawat.  Her driver, the complainant in the case, however, has identified Rawat as the person who shot Mehar.

As the wheels of investigations move at a snail’s pace, wheels within wheels get exposed, leaving an uncomfortable feeling that injustice may be done to some while doing justice to Mehar. Those who know Mehar well say that she would be most unhappy. Perhaps time has come for police to set its image clean, instil confidence in the masses. All it has to do is punish the right culprit.