Where has the ‘Me Too’ crowd disappeared? Sadhvi Pragya is being pilloried for having recalled the torture she faced at the hands of Hemant Karkare, who was later martyred during the attack on Mumbai by terrorists from Pakistan. Having suffered incarceration as an undertrial for nine years without the case against her reaching any conclusion, she could only vent her feelings against her alleged tormentors by ‘cursing’ them. How many women facing torture, rape and murder must have similarly appealed to the divine powers in their last desperate moments for the justice that human agency could not provide them!
But Karkare was a martyr and, it seems, that absolves him of the crimes he may have committed as a cop. The entire politically correct world has come down on the Sadhvi, even though the most preposterous allegations in many other cases have been backed by activists as a part of natural justice that ‘should be available to all’. Sadhvi Pragya has been painted as a ‘Saffron Terrorist’ and, naturally, in the India of today, that puts her beyond the pale of any compassion or consideration.
The rules are different, clearly, for different people. The Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, has trashed allegations against him of sexual nature, dismissing them as a planned attack against the Judiciary. Once again, a possible victim’s plaint has been quashed by the powerful. In fact, the media has been warned off by a strict admonition not to stoke the flame. In the off chance that the allegations are genuine, because even the tallest can fall prey to temptation, who will the victim appeal to now, except the last desperate hope of invoking the unseen forces? The guiding principle in all such cases should be that the accuser gets her/his day in court. The allegations should be judged on merit, irrespective of the character or antecedents of the accuser.
On the other hand, it has not taken much to destroy the careers of tall figures like MJ Akbar, who will now depend on the same judicial system to protect his name through its endless processes. If only similar summary action had been taken in his case as has been done with Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Akbar would wish.
All those who are part of the Establishment are required to maintain a balanced approach to challenges of this sort and it is possible that after the elections, lawmakers will consider these questions. But what is keeping all the brave activists, who have been so vociferous in the past while condemning the easier targets, from standing up now for the women’s cause?