Jasleen, Sarabjit and a few musings of mine.
The recent Jasleen kaur — Sarabjit Singh incident has caught the eye balls of the nation. There was this picture that made rounds in Facebook where a girl alleged that a boy harassed her. The post went viral. The boy was caught. There was a media trial that happened. Some channels called him a pervert. The boy came out on bail. There was media again. Some channels tried to hackle him. They brought both the boy and girl on air again. There were allegations-counter allegations and a lot of drama on T.V. In this post I am trying to take a retrospective view on all the things that have happened in this case. This is a long post and please read till the end when you read it.
The Incident :
There was this alleged exchange of words at a traffic signal. Jasleen was there, Sarabjit was there and something happened between both of them. Now Jasleen has her version for this and Sarabjit has his own version. There is a 3rd person also there at the spot and he is giving his version of this. It is for the police to figure out as to who erred in the whole thing and present the case in a court of law. Then, it is for the judge to fix the quantum of punishment based on the level of offense committed.
Reaction of the Girl:
Jasleen felt bad and now she went to a police station and complained about the guy. This is what a law abiding citizen of India should do. When you have a problem with a person go to the police and complain. This is good. However, that does not give her a free license to put his picture on a social network and say that the person has committed some thing wrong. However, she did this. This should not have been done by her, however she did this and a mistake has been committed. There might be reasons for this, she must have been in the heat of the argument and since her nerves did not cool she might have just went on put it on Facebook. Let us come back to police complaint once again.
Here are the sections under which the complaint was lodged. I heard this from one of the videos that is being circulated with respect to this case. In case these are not the correct section please correct me.
IPC 354 : Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty. http://indiankanoon.org/doc/203036/
IPC 509 : Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman. http://indiankanoon.org/doc/68146/
IPC 506 : http://indiankanoon.org/doc/180217/
If proved these sections might bring a 2 year jail sentence , fine or both to the accused.
Reaction of Netizens :
Now, what should the responsible people around do? Get into a mob fury and keep sharing it frantically or wait till they get to listen about the other side also ? People should have chosen the latter option but then they chose the former one. The mob fury set in and people kept sharing it. The post went viral and everyone thought that they were doing a service to humanity.
Then came the media, the institution that is supposed to be unbiased and the medium for the truth to flow across the nation. Some of these people thought they are lacking behind and jumped into the bandwagon. They started calling the man a pervert, a psycho what and what not. In a way some sections of the media passed a judgement with out even hearing the other side. The girl now got all the lime light (or should I say that the media got a new heroine) and she was all over the place. Thanks to the power of media and social media all this happened with in a day.
What’s worse the Chief Minister of the state in which all this happens also comes out and supports the girl. At least he should have observed restraint.
The Boy :
After all this, probably on the next day (or late in the night) the boy is out and he has a different version. Again, contrary to the normal expectations he is very calm and composed. You don’t expect this amount of confidence from an accused. That is the first shock. The channel that called the boy a pervert tries to get on to him. He patiently answers the questions and does not loose his cool inspite of provocation. Just check the video and see how the news reported was going overboard and the guy was composed in answering the questions.
I am sure I am not the only one who feels that the anchor was over board in demanding an apology. I felt that she had a preconceived notion that this guy is bad ad just went on with that. This should not have been the the case.
Other media channels jump in, they try to get both of them together. Then we saw that the girl was not taking tough questions. She was shouting her way out. Jump to the fifteenth minute in the video. The guys asks her a question about the time for which the altercation happened and you see that the girl starts shouting.
Then came the man who was witness to all this. He started sharing his version of the story and we saw Jasleen running away again. Please check the video. I definitely do not know as to why this girl did this but the way she is handling the questions is actually making me doubt the veracity of allegations she leveled.
Some used this as an opportunity to take their anger on the girl. Some brought out the inherent biases in the Indian laws. Some came out and spoke about the way in which feminism in India is turning out to be FemiNazism. The news channels that called Sarabjit as a pervert are now busy covering some thing else. For many other people like you and me the tamasha has finally ended.
I think we as a society have a lot to learn from this.
- Having laws to protect women is a must. They must be very strict and must make people think twice before doing anything wrong against women. Now a days we are seeing that these laws can be misused. I am not saying that Jasleen has misused it, we donot know the truth yet and need to wait for the judgement. From the looks of it, I have my doubts on the veracity of the complaint. Forget Jasleen, there are a number of women who have already misused the provisions of the laws that protect them. Case in point is the Rohtak sisters case. Please check this link. http://zeenews.india.com/news/haryana/rohtak-sisters-fail-polygraph-test-their-molesters-pass-report_1549037.html . In case you think I am bringing up isolated events kindly read this. According the Delhi Commission for Women 53.2 % of the rape cases that were filed between April 2013 and July 2014 were false. Of the 2753 complaints of rape 1464 cases were found to be false. What is more alarming is the fact that this sort of cases were being used as tools for revenge by the women. Please check the links for more facts. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/false-rape-cases-in-delhi-delhi-commission-of-women/1/409320.html. One of the reasons here is that even if the case is found to be wrong the woman who puts the case is mostly let off. In some cases the judges themselves felt that there should be some action against the person who files a false rape case. Here is a link in that regard. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Women-lodging-false-rape-cases-should-be-punished-Court/articleshow/46043227.cms. Women who book false rape cases must be brought to book, that would definitely restore some balance and discourage them from leveling false charges.
- While this is done, we must stop this mob lynching of the accused. Once the court finds him guilty go ahead and call him what ever you want but please donot call him names with out knowing the truth. Insulting a women/Rape/ Dowry Harassment/ Domestic Violence etc are big allegation and that would ruin the life of a person. In cases of this sort, the moment a person is accused he and his family are ostracized by the community. The trauma that they have undergo is huge. In case they have perpetrated the crime then it might deserve it, but just imagine the injustice we would be doing to them incase they are just being framed by a wily woman. From now on if we see a Facebook post or an article that has one side of the story lets stop, reread it and see if the other party’s views also find a mention. If yes lets share it only then else let us not.
- We ought to bring in regulations that will stop media trials of the accused. Media’s job is to report, not to pass judgements. In the videos that I shared there were 3 journalists. While 2 of them behaved in a very good way the other one just behaved as if she was a judge. This is a self restriction that media needs to impose on itself. Some of them are failing at doing this hence the government must jump in and bring in regulations.
- We as a society need to understand and debate as to why we behave like a mob when we see a news. We attach ourselves either to the pro group or the con group almost instantaneously. I am writing all this now but the moment I got the news I was trying to pick one reason to show Jasleen in poor light. The man in me was saying that these girls are doing too much we should pick a reason to show them down. I am sure there would be women who would go gaga on this news and start abusing men for everything bad in the history of the universe. The gender bias and the pitting of one gender against the other is one of the big reasons why we see the world in a skewed way. Instead of men and women we are somehow made to believe that this sort of situations are men vs women. I really don’t know why we behave like that but to me the only way out is not to behave that way and bring out the rational person within us.
Introspection is the need of the hour, everyone right from Jasleen and Sarabjit till the curious onlookers like you and me ought to introspect. We ought to check as to where we went and what was the reason for doing so. I felt that the points mentioned above were the reasons. You might find even more. Let’s push for these changes and witness the change as it happens.