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Gangrape of 8 years old girl in J&K generates widespread outrage

Kingson Chingakham

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Following an incident that happened in January, an eight year old girl was gang raped and murdered in Kathua district of Jammu & Kashmir(J&K).The forensic investigation revealed that she was held hostage in a temple for several days before her dead body was found from a nearby area.The victim belonged to the minority Bakarwal community.It is also believed that the abduction of the girl was planned to intimidate the Bakarwal community to move out from the area.Almost after three months,a chargesheet was filed against the eight accused men on April 9,2018 .The event unfolding from the filing of the chargesheet has generated widespread anger and outrage in the country.

Aftermath of the Chargesheet

What is most shocking about this incident is the violation of power by the branches of the government- police,elected representatives and the lawyers with vested religious interests.With the arrest of the accused,there have been widespread protests to show solidarity for the ‘Hindus accused’.The big blow to the alliance of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) came from the two state ministers of the BJP- Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash when they attended one of the protests in support of the accused organized by the Hindu Ekta March.Though the two ministers have resigned from the offices, some of the BJP officials continue to support the two ministers by saying that the ministers have been blamed since they did not maintain a ‘discretionary’ support.

The lacklustre attitude of the police should be condemned.Two of the police officers have been accused for attempting to temper or destroy the evidences.This has brought distrust in the credibility of the police forces across the country.The security and the protection of the poor and the downtrodden must be taken into serious considerations.Ethics of the police forces have been highly compromised due to the hunger of money and power.The sensitization of human rights and the work responsibilities for these police forces have been deeply neglected.

Some protesters in support of the Hindu Ekta March included the lawyers.Lawyers have the huge responsibilities to deliver justices when all the other pillars starts crumbling.They are the guardian of our constitution.They are well versed with the constitutional rights of every citizen in this country.Yet,they participated in a protest that will derail the justice delivery of the victim.

In what may bring a strain in the alliance between the PDP and the BJP,the brother of the Chief Minister of J&K Mehbooba Mufti, Tassaduq Mufti called ‘PDP and BJP as partners in crime’.He also warned that due to the non-fulfilment of commitments to the people of J&K,the Kashmiris may have to pay with blood.He also expressed his anxiety that more youths will continue taking up guns if a political solution is not brought on an urgent basis.

With general elections coming up next year,opposition parties have been waiting for such occasions that could damage the image of the BJP.The involvement of the BJP ministers has given an easy way to the opposition parties to garner brownie points.A case which has brought tears and broken the hearts of the millions have become politicized for some electoral gains.The Prime Minister took days to react on this incident.Though he assured that the ‘daughters (victims of Kathua and Unnao rape incidents) will get justice’, such assurances do not come with any weight.Oppositions in the Parliament have become toothless due to the tyranny of the majority party.People are angry in the state. But PDP will not take any moral responsibility to severe the tie with the BJP as this would mean the end of the ruling.

Social Media Outrage

The social media has become a platform for expression of grievances and voices that could be heard from every nook and corner.The anger in the social media has led to speedy actions taken against the accused.Though this has resulted into some positive consequences,there have been some practices that needs immediate action. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) warned that identification of a child victim by media will attract punishment with imprisonment up to six months and / or fine of up to Rs 2 lakhs under Juvenile Jutice Act,2015. Identification will narrowly mean the publication of the pictures and videos of the child victim,the residential address without the consent of the family and even the names.

But what we could see on the social media platform is the circulation of the pictures and videos of the child victim.These pictures and videos have been widely circulated across all the digital platforms.The users and media have violated some of the basic laws that protect the rights of a child victim.In spite of a warning from the Child authorities,it has not stopped.The NCPCR has been unable to take actions against the circulation of pictures and videos on social media. Had it been on print and TV,it could have been easily curtailed and taken actions.But Internet acts as a menace in such a time.Once on the Internet,it becomes nearly impossible to punish the offenders.

Regulation of contents on social Media

Earlier in April,the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had announced measures to curtail fake news where Journalist accreditation could be permanently canceled if found guilty propagating fake news.Though this has been retracted,the debate continues on the self-regulation of the media houses.The circulation of the inappropriate content of the child victim on social media should come under the ambit of self-regulation.But some already argue that self-regulations in most of the media houses are under place.However, this has become ineffective to stop spreading false activities and inappropriate contents that violate the laws.In the hunger of more viewership and readers,the gatekeeping process has been bypassed.

Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter should be made accountable and equally blamed for as they have been unable to remove such contents through filtering process.Stricter laws need to be enforced against social media channels across the country.They should be asked to formulate ways to curve the spreading of unwanted contents on social media with specific time frame.It is a high time to urge for a regulatory institution of the social media by the government with the support from the media.

Personal Blog. For details please mail me at observersindia@gmail.com

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