The Modi government’s inaction over the Unnao, Kathua and other rape incidents have the put the spotlight over its ambitious ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ movement which was touted to empower women. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had taken a keen interest in this campaign and had urged fathers to click selfies with their daughters. The campaign, which had initially become a rage among people, has lost its relevance as even its brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan expressed disgust over rape incidents. When Bachchan was asked about sharing his views about rape incidents occurring in the country, he said, “Please don’t ask me about this issue, as it disgusts me to talk about it.”
Rising rape incidents have put a blot on the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign and raise a question whether the government is really serious about protecting the girl child? Thus, the scheme has merely become a political slogan for the government to attract the attention of people. When will the government take initiative to prevent the occurrence of rapes?
The Unnao and Kathua rape incidents may have grabbed headlines, but the nation has witnessed several other rape cases. On April 20, an eight-month-old infant was allegedly kidnapped, raped and murdered in Indore. According to police, the CCTV had captured the footage of the accused Sunil Bheel who was seen carrying the infant on his shoulder. The infant’s body was recovered from the basement of a building in Rajwada area. On one hand, rape incidents are rising in the country and on the other hand, politicians are issuing controversial comments.
Union Minister Santosh Gangwar said that rape cases should not be hyped, “In a big country like ours, if one or two incidents take place, brouhaha should not be created over it. This is not fair… Government is taking effective steps…Whatever is necessary will be done,” he said. How can a leader like Gangwar issue such irresponsible comments?
On April 20, a nine-year-old girl was allegedly raped and murdered while attending a wedding with her family in Etah, Uttar Pradesh. In another incident, a 10-year-girl too met with a similar fate at a wedding ceremony in Chhattisgarh on April 18.
Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury created a furore by mentioning about a dialogue from Bollywood movie Sholay during an event held at Patna. “Koi mahila bahar nahi nikalti hai aaj kal. Aaj ke din jab ladki ghar se bahar nikalti hai aur uska balatakar ho jata hai, thaanemein jab jaate haintab yahi poocha jata hai ‘Kitne aadmi the. (No woman goes out of her house today. Today, when a girl steps out of the house and she is raped, she goes to the police and is asked “how many men were there’).” Have leaders like Renuka become insensitive towards rape cases?
In Surat, an 11-year-old was raped and murdered and then her body was dumped earlier this month. She had 86 injuries and was also brutalised with blunt objects. On April 6, the girl’s body was discovered by a passerby on the side of a highway in Surat’s Bhestan locality.
Veteran Bollywood actress Hema Malini stirred up a controversy after she said that rape incidents are getting more publicity nowadays. She said, “It’s unfortunate that Unnao and Kathua rape incidents had occurred in the country and it should not happen. Such incidents only tarnish the nation’s image. These incidents might have been happening earlier too but there was lack of information. Such cases are receiving more publicity nowadays.”
A seven-year-old girl’s family has alleged that she was sexually assaulted at her school in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. A complaint has been filed by the police and they are examining the CCTV footage for ascertaining the identity of the accused. Nobody has been arrested yet.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani had spoken highly of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign and said that it would not only help to improve the adverse sex ratio but will also ensure that girls are educated. She had appealed to people to end female foeticide and protect the girl child. After the occurrence of Unnao and Kathua rape incidents, she had criticised the attempts to politicise rape cases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already received flak for remaining mum over this issue. Even though Modi broke his silence over Unnao and Kathua rape incidents and said that no culprits will be spared and justice will be delivered to daughters but it was too little too late. More than 600 academicians and scholars across the world have forwarded an open letter to Modi and voiced their concern over the Kathua and Unnao rape cases. They held the government responsible for the “terrible state of affairs”.