Nirbhaya is gone and leaves behind a shamed and a mourning nation. In her death Nirbhaya has become the symbol of how we have, as a country and people let her and her family down. Let her down we have and many thousands like her every year. Delhi reportedly has more rape cases than any other city in India, with instances of reported rape rising at a rate of 17% every year.
The outrage against assault against this young Indian, with everything to look forward to in her life has galvanized young and old all over the country - a nationwide mobilization of minds and body expressing disgust, anger and frustration against what they see as a callous and unfeeling establishment that has presided over these statistics of crime. While expectedly there will be debate and discussion on this, including the tendency of the ruling class to blame this on ’social evils’ and therefore a need for social transformation - we must make sure Nirbhaya’s life, her struggles and indeed her painful death isn’t in vain.
The focus must be on why policing and care for citizens rights (man, woman and child) to a safe life in their communities isn’t possible in a nation that boasts of being an economic superpower. Why is it that while we boast economic growth numbers at the drop of a hat, that there are so many Nirbhayas who have to live and work in fear and humiliation?
The answer is simple. For all the rhetoric from Delhi, we are increasingly becoming a nation where rule of law are held in contempt by many. The message to government and the law makers should be loud & clear : our current laws aren’t deterrents - be it for rapists or the crooks. The legacy of Nirbhaya must be that we create a framework of laws, law enforcement and prosecution and a culture of zero tolerance towards crime and criminals - however big or small, regardless of caste or creed. New laws that are deterrents to crime, A police force whose mission is to make peoples life safe and prosecution of crimes and criminals that mete out exemplary punishment in fastest possible time to those found guilty. The Government must act now, work hard to restore people’s confidence to do create an atmosphere of deterrence for criminals, ensure Delhi and India made safe again for all men, women, children and unsafe for all criminals. That would be the true redemption of the debt we owe Nirbhaya.
And to all those Indians who have come out in anger against this, I quote Thomas Jefferson, “A little Rebellion now and then is a good thing. It’s a medicine necessary for the sound health of the Government”.
This appeared in the DNA on December 30th, 2012