Published On: Fri, Apr 20th, 2018

Asifa case exposing ugly side to “shining India”

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By Faizah Gilani

AsifaA bright eyed, full of life, eight-year-old Muslim girl, Asifa was abducted in mid-January. She was heavily sedated and subjected to gang rape, torture, and then killed. Her body was eventually found within the forest. The little girl belonged to the Kathua district, in Jammu. This heart-breaking story of Asifa has shaken all decent people all over the world. It is unimaginable for many, hard to comprehend how such a cruel and monstrous act can take place. But this tragic incident has also exposed the ugly side to “shining India.”

The perpetrators of this despicable act are Hindus. And the victim – a Muslim girl. This is a fact which needs to be reported because this was not a random attack. This was pre planned and done so to frighten away members of the Bakerwal community from the predominantly Hindu area. The sensitive angle of religion must be touched upon while discussing this case. But this is not about Muslims against Hindus and vice versa. A heinous crime has been committed and those involved must be brought to justice. Unfortunately, we have witnessed lack of humanity from some quarters of the world’s largest democracy.

Some members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP have rallied in support of the perpetrators, stating that they are innocent. Not only is this shocking, it also highlights how the politics of religion has become far more important than justice and humanity. How shameful it is to see Ministers of the world’s largest democracy speak in favour of rapists, simply because they belong to the same faith. Those supporting the culprits must also be parents to young girls, and yet they cannot feel the pain of Asifa’s parents because they belong to a different religion as them.

It is also disheartening to see mild protests within India. When a student was gang raped on a bus in Delhi, the country witnessed mass protest and huge uproar. In comparison, there have been protests on a lower scale for Asifa. Even on social media platforms, some people have not been able to look beyond religion. Indian Tennis star Sania Mirza was trolled on twitter for highlighting Asifa’s case. For some, Sania’s religion and marriage to Pakistani Cricketer Shoaib Malik happens to be a bigger crime than the one committed by Asifa’s culprits. Very sad.

The social media platform has also exposed the hatred and biasedness hidden within a secular society. Those using sites such as Facebook and twitter are not simply usernames. These are real people who simply hide behind their fake identities to spew venom. Columnist for the Middle East Eye and New Arab, CJ Werleman, has posted several tweets of face book activity where Hindu Nationalists are glorifying the disgraceful acts of the perpetrators. Some have even gone as far as to say that the little girl deserved such treatment, and that it should happen to other Muslim girls as well. One cannot even begin to fathom how some people can even justify these vile acts, regardless of their faith. Are we not all born as human beings first? Shouldn’t humanity bind us all together?

But it becomes even more twisted. Pro Modi protestors took to the streets of London and when asked by a reporter about the rape of eight-year-old Asifa, one replied: “it’s all bullshit plotted by the Pakistani media.” And this one line sums it all up. There is so much hatred, so much venom within the hearts and minds of people that they have forgotten what it is to be human. Regardless of your faith and what you believe in, no one should ever stand in favour of injustice. One should always stand firm with what is right. We cannot allow our conscience to die. Without a conscience, how can we even call ourselves human?

Today it is Asifa. Tomorrow it could be Aarti. Bottom line is, we need to stop this madness. We cannot allow ourselves to be consumed by hatred, and for our conscience to die. It does not matter what religion the victim belongs to. And the same goes for the faith of the perpetrators. What is wrong is wrong. Twisting facts to suit your own narrative is absurd. And believing what you want to believe is ridiculous. We all have a moral duty to stand up in the face of injustice because if we don’t, we are no different to the monsters that committed such a ghastly act in the case of Asifa.

Yes, we have seen support for Asifa by several high-profile Bollywood celebrities. They have used social media platforms to express their shock and disgust. Many have rightly commented on this being about humanity, not religion. But these celebrities have never had the moral courage to call out their Prime Minister on the Human Rights violations being carried out in Kashmir. On the contrary, celebrities such as Gautam Gambhir, have often come out in support of excessive force, in the past. When you start justifying bloodshed in the name of nationalism, you begin to lose your conscience. And therefore, a lot of average Indians have shown lack of empathy and compassion for Asifa. Kashmiris are nothing but a nuisance. People who want to disrupt the set up of India.

And let us not forget, these celebrities that are pledging support to Asifa are the ones that have elevated Modi to superstar status, openly expressing support for him. And it is under Modi’s government that we have witnessed Kashmir erupting. Severe Human Rights violations have taken place. There has been a use of excessive force, use of pellet guns, resulting in the loss of eye sight for many Kashmiris.

Under Modi’s government, there has been a serious divide between Hindu and Muslims. But this is what one should expect from a divisive personality such as Narendra Modi. Those appealing to him for justice in Asifa’s case should take one good look at his history and past comments. He may have been given a clean chit by the courts, but his thoughts on the Gujrat massacre are not hidden from anyone. And therefore, his slow and sluggish response to Asifa should come as no real surprise. Modi is currently in London for the Commonwealth summit, a welcome distraction, perhaps.

But where there are cruel, insensitive people, you will also find brave and compassionate souls as well. We must salute the bravery of Deepika Singh Rajawat, who is fighting Asifa’s case. The fearless woman refuses to back off, despite several death threats and fierce criticism from her peers of the Bar Association. Deepika Rajawat has been very vocal against Narendra Modi’s soft approach to the case, and she vows to fight for justice. It is very important for us to state the obvious – Deepika is a Hindu. And she has taken up a very high profile case of a Muslim victim. Who we are should not be defined by our religious beliefs, but by our actions. And by taking a stand for what is right, and what is just, Deepika Rajawat has proven what a courageous woman she is. She is making her profession proud and upholding its values.

But at the end of it all, let us present the facts in a sensitive manner. An eight-year-old Muslim girl was raped and murdered by a gang of Hindu men. This cannot go unreported. But let us not make this issue into a warzone on religion. Instead, all decent and sane people, regardless of their religious beliefs and nationality, should come together in support of Asifa. And we must demand for justice. This is not Hindus VS Muslims. This is about fighting against hatred for justice. Little Asifa did not deserve such a horrific end to her short life. No one deserves this. And anyone who thinks otherwise must look within their hearts and ask themselves, when did I stop becoming a human?

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