I felt a sense of shock and sadness upon hearing that the family of Ruchika Girhotra, the minor girl who committed suicide 19 years back after being molested by former Haryana DGP SPS Rathore, had dropped torture charges against the former top cop. They raised no objection to CBI’s closure reports dropping those charges against him. When things like this happen, even a passionate optimist like me, who believes in the India-heading-the-right-way stories, receives an unpleasant jolt.
My initial shock gave way to anger. A man, who molested a school girl young enough to be his daughter (his daughter was incidentally a classmate of the girl), who abused his powers to harass and intimidate the girl’s family to the point where she was compelled to commit suicide and is believed to have thrown a party on the day she gave up her life, is now free to live a normal life as a respectable citizen. If all that wasn’t bad enough, Rathore was promoted to the rank of DGP even though there were criminal charges against him- charges which were subsequently proven.
No one has been brought to book for the arrest and illegal detention of Ruchika’s minor brother, on charges that were never even framed. Even allowing for the fact that the torture charges were never proven, the fact remains that an innocent 13-year old boy was arrested and humiliated in front of his neighbours by the supposed guardians of law and order.
I am angry, not just with the policemen who were party to the abuse or the legal mechanism that delayed the judgement in this case so painfully long. The people involved are but products of our society and as such, reflections our own shortcomings. In my opinion we, as a society, are collectively responsible for this unpardonable miscarriage of justice.
The very fact that an irresponsible officer could not only get away with blatant abuse of the administrative mechanism, but also receive promotions during the pending criminal charges against him is a scathing indictment of our society. It is our passivity which encouraged him to not only abuse his powers, but also give him the assurance that he could even then lead a perfectly normal life. Had he feared the society, would the man have dared to do what he did? Would it be too much to say that he did it knowing fully well that he could get away with it?
Let’s fact it, Indian society is a deeply sexist one. How many times do we get to hear the refrain “woh toh ladka hai”? Look at the number of movies in which marital infidelity is trivialized. It is always the men who cheat on their wives and the good, understanding wives excuse the breach of trust and go on as if nothing ever happened. No such leeway is ever given to the woman. Why, a lot of Indian men consider it perfectly excusable to rape a woman just because she was “dressed provocatively”!
Much as we would like to blame the police or the judiciary for the miscarriage of justice, let’s face the fact that sexual offenders get away with their crimes because we, as a society condone their crimes. The Ruchika Girhotra case was but one prominent case. Goodness knows how many Ruchikas there are out there, who may never ever get justice…