(warning: this post contains pictures that may offend the ‘dignity’, ‘decency’, and sensibility of some readers). Not Priyanka Vadera Gandhi, Not even Priyanka Chopra. But, [tag]Priyanka Bhotmange[/tag]. Just a simple, ordinary girl called Priyanka who lived in a small little village called [tag]Khairlanji[/tag] in the back of beyond in the state of [tag]Maharashtra[/tag]. She studied in the 12th and hoped to make something of her life that would allow her to escape from the restrictions of caste, class and gender.
Two months ago – on Sepetmber 29th – she was murdered. Now, she wasn’t just murdered – she was gang raped by a drunken mob before that. As Shivam’s harrowing post describes
four victims …..dragged away to the village chaupal, Priyanka strapped to a bullock cart. By now, men allegedly from the entire village of about 150 Powar and Kalar families had collected. Some shouted to the sarpanch to allow them to sexually assault the women.
Surekha and Priyanka were stripped, paraded naked, beaten black and blue with bicycle chains, axes and bullock cart pokers. They were publicly gang raped until they died. Some raped them even after that, and finally, sticks and rods were shoved into their genitals.
In the meanwhile
Meanwhile, Priyanka’s brothers, 21-year-old Sudhir and 19-year-old Roshan, were murdered. After Priyanka and her mother were raped, they too were murdered.
This from Shivam
They raped the women and killed all four, even as their womenfolk looked on, mute spectators to a form of justice reserved for castes lower than theirs. One woman, Sudha Dhenge, reportedly did protest but was slapped into silence. She now says she was never there.
The first photographs of Priyanka’s body, that were taken by a social organisation, showed rods sticking out from her genitals. But when her body was taken to the Mohadi hospital for the post-mortem, the sticks and rods had disappeared.
Priyanka’s crime – her family was Dalit and worse than that – it was a family that dared to stand up for its rights. Yet at a certain level Priyanka and her mother Surekha were also punished for being women. And how dare a woman, and a DAlit woman at that have delusions of equality? Don’t we all know that historically and culturally while being a Dalit is bad enough, being a woman is worse. And God help you if you are both.
Last week – my students and I were carrying out an little exercise that we conduct fairly regularly. We look at the top of mind recall stories from all the media. The students identified around 17 stories. 12 of those were entertainment or celeb oriented- Ash, Abhishek, Cricket, Rahul Mahajan. 2 of them were business – tata corus. Two of them were national/international political. And one student said Solapur. I asked what solapur and she said that some Dalits are protesting. About what, i asked. Something, she said. And my students are bright, aware and at an age where they do care about the world and get outraged about injustices. Yet they had not read anything beyond Dalits protesting.
And then i did something i have never done in class. I turned brutal. I just read out part of Shivam’s piece from memory – the bit where the villagers were petitioning the sarpanch to be allowed to rape the women. And the manner of the murders. There was a shocked, stunned silence. This is the first time that i have really used graphic descriptions in a class. I used to resist graphic descriptions – and given the fact that i teach media and how media impacts society – i used to be careful about explaining stuff like decency and dignity and all those wonderful terms. But, somehow this time around i realised that trying to pussyfoot around the topic is not going to help. That my students, future journalists and media people have to know what is going on and how. and so does everyone else. Family of four killed in Nagpur or Solapur does not really describe the story or its implications. And it is with this in mind i have decided to link to the pictures of the victim.
A girl called Priyanka is dead. She was murdered by men who demanded the right to rape her and then kill her. The permission was granted. And we want to be polite about it? A woman called Surekha is dead. She is also gang raped and murdered. Two young men called Sudhir & Roshan and beaten to death. And we use flowery terms like ‘dignity in death’. What dignity? The dead are dead, and what we are trying to do is protect the dignity of the living. Our dignity. We don’t want to see a raped and murdered woman’s photograph because it offends us. Not the act but the picture. I have been following the Indian blogospheres’ reactions on the incident. And, almost like in a black farce, beyond a lipservice to outrage at the act – it has focused mainly on whether a blogger should have published the picture or not. As someone pointed out on beaupeep’s blog
Common man wants to learn and wants to learn the essence. He can very well picturise : a dead body or what a rape or mutilation can leave behind on a human body. Are you achieving any purpose beyond disturbing his mind one bright morning.
As I said – dignitiy and decency and all the polical correctness is for us. not the dead. i hate to use the analogy of Fox News – but the fact remains that those who have been screaming about the ‘dignity of death’ (pray tell me what is dignified about being gangraped, having rods and objects shoved into you, and necrophilia) have really taken a leaf out of the best propagandists in the world. When the issue is important scream out a different question. A few months ago when Priyadarshini Mattoo’s family was finally given justice – i asked my students a question – if the woman was poor, dalit and from the back of beyond, would there have been so much outrage and outcry. I guess i have got my answer.