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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 19 New Delhi April 28, 2018

Asifa’s Just Killers!

Saturday 28 April 2018

by Prem Singh

The cry seeking justice for Asifa is becoming stronger and deeper. From Delhi to the United Nations, from social and civil rights organisations to civil society citizens, more and more people are out on the streets shouting slogans and demanding justice for Asifa. The social media is parading her pictures, right from happier times to the horrifying end; protesters unfurl their respective banners and flags, and suggest varying degrees of punishment. From Kathua to Delhi, and in many other cities in the country, protest marches and candle-light vigils are being carried out for Asifa. Children are also joining and participating in the protests in large numbers.

A woman officer in the Delhi government has gone on a hunger strike on the issue of women’s security. She says that if Modi can carry out demonetisation in one day, why can’t he show similar promptness in ensuring women’s safety? Besides the furore on the social media which is deluged with messages for justice for Asifa, newspaper columnists and intellectuals too are writing angry letters and articles demanding justice for Asifa. The gruesome news has shocked the international media too. The anger against the rape in Unnao had not yet subsided when this incident of kidnapping, rape and murder in Jammu and Kashmir shook every conscience.

Asifa, whose innocent life was snuffed out by this act of barbarism, did not know that there exists a real judicial system in the country, where great law-givers and judges and lawyers dispense justice on the basis of witnesses and evidences. She did not know about the United Nations Organisation (UNO) which also works to ensure justice for the citizens of the world. Asifa did not know that governments mete out justice equivalent to specific sums of money handed out to the parents of young girls like herself who are killed with such gruesome violence. Asifa did not even know that fascism has arrived in the country, and that concerned people will later rue the fact that her fate was the result of that fascism, and that true justice for her consists in defeating those fascist forces. She perhaps wouldn’t have even dreamt that she was being ministered ‘Hindu justice’ in that temple. Asifa might have been ignorant about the tricolour that was hoisted by those nationalists who, in support of accused, marched from the courts to the streets, brandishing their love for their country.

God knows how well Asifa registered the simple fact that she was a Muslim. But she certainly did discover in her eight-year old life that hell is not placed in another world, it is right here, on this earth—on a territory touted inter-nationally as a paradise on earth. Before leaving the world she also learnt that Satan is not just the adversary of God, he also mauls tender-limbed children. What more justice would she hope that God gives her on the day of judgment?

If there is such a thing as soul or spirit, Asifa must surely be wondering now, in absolute amazement, as to why only after her tortured end, have so many people and so many organisations suddenly become active and jumped to her defence. Talib Hussain, the lone lawyer from her native village who protested against the horrific act when her kidnapping and death first came to light, may not appear so alone to her now. As a part of the infinite soul, Asifa would marvel at how huge this country and the entire world is, and how full of debates and arguments, beset with beliefs and questions, riddled with attacks and counterattacks.

She would completely understand why this world will not give her justice. Whatever justice is there in this system—social justice, economic justice, civil justice, human justice and child/juvenile justice—she has been kept away from them all. Which is why it was so easy for her entire being to be thus trampled and crushed. She would understand that this passionate furore over justice for her would soon get cold. Another furore will swell and ebb with the next incident. She would understand, like other souls, that this swelling and ebbing is an everlasting process.

Asifa must be wondering why do these people pretend so much? What compels them to do so? But perhaps, it may be that they are genuinely disturbed. They are truly concerned. They want to usurp the entire share of Asifa’s and appear ‘just’ themselves. They want to tell themselves and the world that they are not party to this savage mind-set. They want to demonstrate that none of this is happening in their names. Souls perhaps have no hatred for anyone. So Asifa would smile and say: “Just killers”!

Just three suggestions, if you deem them fit, towards the fight for justice for Asifa. Firstly, the national flag should not be used to support just any purpose. It should be used only for national programmes. The 2014 decision of the Supreme Court, which allowed anyone, at any time for any reason, well within his rights to hoist the national flag, should be revoked. Two, we should learn to quieten down, and have more introspective, inner conversations with ourselves. Perhaps then we might understand that we all are complicit and responsible in various ways for this situation. Three, the RSS should understand that the Pandora’s box of ‘Hindutva’ that they’ve opened has no use for society, nation, civilisation or human race—none at all. The nation’s politics, economy, education, culture—all have been almost taken over by the corporates. Any organisation feeding off the corporate powers can rise to power. But as long as human civilisation survives, social and human ostracisation, such as the kind that the RSS advocates, will continue to find stiff opposition.

Asifa’s soul might find solace in this hope, and her parents and siblings might find the strength to bear the trauma. And for the rest of the country’s citizens, the government and juridical system will do something, to calm down the agitation. They have to justify their existence. Two resignations of BJP Ministers have been tendered in the Jammu and Kashmir Government. Some court procedure or the other, too, will happen in time.

Dr Prem Singh belongs to the Department of Hindi University of Delhi. He is a former Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. He was a Visiting Professor, Centre of Oriental Studies, Vilnius, Lithuania. He was also a Visiting Professor, Centre of Eastern Languages and Cultures, Department of Indology, Sofia University, Sofia.

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