Akhilesh's stance may be a deliberate ploy to get himself reprieve from harsh scrutiny.

Voices Friday, June 06, 2014 - 05:30
By Irfan Iqbal Gheta For past few days the whole country has been talking about the gang rape of two teenage girls in Uttar Pradesh's Badaun. The gloom and sadness the family of those two unfortunate girls are going through at the moment is beyond imagination. It will be suffice to say that for them this tragic incident of having lost their daughters must be akin to the end of the world. A lot has been talked about caste prejudices in cases like the Badaun rape. The sheer brutality and the obvious caste divides in the story put the Government under the scanner. The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has found himself under harsh scrutiny, but instead of taking responsibility and charting a road ahead, he has decided to brazen it out. The statement issued a few days ago by the Samajvadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on rapists that the boys will be boys and such mistakes happen has betrayed the soft stand of the SP towards the incidents of rapes. Therefore it is hardly surprising to see a defiant Akhilesh Yadav. Not only he has refrained from showing any remorse nor has he offered an explanation. On the contrary, he has blamed the media for having blown the Badaun incident out of proportion. His lame defence has been that such incidents are not new to Uttar Pradesh, they happen everywhere. This is really shocking and insensitive coming as it does from a chief minister who has been hailed as the young, educated and beacon of hope for UP.  Another SP leader has blamed such horrific incidents of rape in Uttar Pradesh on vulgarity, obscenity and violence shown on the TV channels. In a hurry to give a clean chit to Akhilesh Yadav under fire, Ram Gopal Yadav has tried to shift the entire blame of deteriorating law and order situation and atrocities on women in Uttar Pradesh on TV channels. Nothing can be sillier than Ram Gopal Yadav's attempts at shifting the spotlight away from his nephew Akhilesh Yadav. Following this horrific incident of gang rape that has culminated in the equally gruesome losses of two lives, there will be outrage. There will be demands for fast track trails and the harshest possible punishment for the culprits to set an example. The Opposition parties will demand the chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's resignation too. Over next few days we are going to witness a lot of action as far as the aftermath of the Badaun rape is concerned. Stricter laws and harsher punishments are for the criminals. They may act as deterrent or not given the nature of caste prejudices prevalent in the Hindi heartland. The civil society has to act in a vigilant manner so that the culprits do not get away. All said and done. But what about the political leaders issuing insensitive statements on touchy issues like rape? Should there not be a code of conduct in place for them as well? When the media asks the powers that be tough questions on the law and order situation and on the increasing atrocities against women in the society, they tend to issue statements with a view to shifting the focus from their current predicaments. Sometimes such statements breed controversies that dilute the entire focus on the core issues and the debate gets diverted. This may be a deliberate ploy to get himself reprieve from the harsh scrutiny. But it does no good for women in particular who are always under attack from anti-social elements. Across the country we see a trend of more rapes getting reported, but the tendency to sweep them under the carpet or to issue outright denials of such incidents on the part of the politicians is very much there. To bring about an effective change in terms of safety of women, all this has to change first. Until the political class learns to express sensitivity towards rape, any change whatsoever will be rendered meaningless and ineffective.
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