Brutality unleashed: Women at the receiving end

By Humra Quraishi. Dated: 1/17/2020 5:45:56 PM

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

The women were groped and officers commented on their breasts as they beat them. 'One man put a gun to my head', said Tabassum Raza, 26. He said: 'Tell me where the men are hiding or I'll shoot you.'
Shouldn't all possible Commissions for Women and also those for the Human Rights sit up and take note of the fact that in these very recent protests against the CAA and NRC and NPR, the police force has been not just blatantly brute whilst dealing with the protestors but there are also news reports that confirm the fact that policemen have kicked and punched women in the abdomen, have pulled off veils and burqas and hijabs and also touched breasts of the women protestors! Even commented on the breasts!
I'm quoting from this news report of Hugh Tomlinson and Saurabh Sharma, published in The Times (UK) dated January 10, 2020- "The crowd scattered and word spread up the street in panic: 'Police, police.' While the protestors scrambled to flee over the rooftops of the block in old Lucknow, dozens of officers burst in below, raining blows on women and children. The Muslim families cowered from their attackers. 'Take off her veil, check if she's a man,' one officer yelled, pointing to Salma Hussain, 29, who wept as she recalled the humiliation. The women were groped and officers commented on their breasts as they beat them. 'One man put a gun to my head', said Tabassum Raza, 26. He said: 'Tell me where the men are hiding or I'll shoot you.'"
Even in this capital city, New Delhi, there have been also reports of burqa and hijab clad women who were participating in the protests, targeted by the cops.
And there's this entire statement of the Lucknow based activist Sadaf Jafar, where she details how a particular male police officer in the Lucknow police thana pulled her by her hair, kicked and punched her in the abdomen and went on doing so till she started bleeding - blood soaking the clothes on her, blood trickling down … Of course, not to overlook the "Go to Pakistan" communal- dripping taunts throw at her by the so called protectors of the masses - the police force.
Not sure what havoc must be taking place in smaller towns and villages, when this level of brutality is witnessed out there in the open, in cities. Also, its a known fact that the women molested and groped and even savagely treated by the cops during dangaas/ rioting, cannot pinpoint the culprits for fear of the aftermath.
And yes not to overlook the 'happenings' in open and closed prisons, where the imprisoned is at the mercy of the cops. Which inmate will carry the courage to even whisper the barbaric tactics involved!
Today, with Right-Wing communal rulers and more than communal babus handpicked by them to suit their Agenda, the police cannot be expected to remain unbiased. In fact, instead of the 'experts' chanting on the national television that many more are to be added to the police force, I would suggest that first sensitize and humanize the existing force - yes, that's is what is urgently required if human forms and psyches are to remain intact. Also, what is also required is to make the recruitment process absolutely and absolutely transparent - more so, in the backdrop of reports that Right- Wing men are finding their way into governmental slots.
****
These recent shots of women pushed and pulled and slapped by the police force is unnerving, reminding one how the cops together with the security forces do it all too often in the Kashmir Valley. I have been a witness to the levels of cops' brutality on Kashmiri men and women and even children. Yes, on the roads and lanes and by lanes.
I have also been subjected to the cops' violent ways, also subjected to those sickeningly crude and humiliating levels of security frisks. Space constraints will let me not detail all of them but let me write about one such experience -
An over enthusiastic policewoman posted at a check post at the Srinagar Airport, touched my body as thoroughly and roughly as she could and then just as I was about to walk on, she she'd leaned and came closer and said, "What's this …this long thing here …something's sticking out …in the last hijack..."
"I'm having my menstrual period" I whispered back.
"Madam, chottawala- the smaller one…'
"Terribly heavy flow…"I started to explain why I was using an extra large sanitary napkin, but she pulled away, exclaiming 'Ayyo!' and let me go through hastily, as though I was about to bloody her khakis!
My plight was seemingly nothing as compared to an elderly Kashmiri woman passenger who was also standing there. She was made to take off her spectacles, chappals, socks, untie her thin grey plait, lift her kurta, remove her dupatta …in fact, towards the end of it all, she was left so nervously rattled that she undid the drawstring of her shalwar and pushed it down…With her arms trembling, she went on muttering, " This was the only place left to be searched! "
This particular incident happened around 2002 at the Srinagar Airport. Years have passed by memories cannot be erased - of those rounds of humiliation and fearful apprehensions.
Kashmiris go through these traumas on a daily basis. They cannot even cry out even if raped or molested or abused.
*****
Leaving you with this thought bothering me, so thought let me share it with you- With the four rape accused in the Nirbhaya case, set to be hanged soon ( though the mercy petition of one of them seems pending or what; some level of confusion on that, as there seems no clear picture on this -- at least no clear picture till the date of my filing this column) I have been thinking aloud - Is it fair to hang these four? There are rapist mantris, santris and swamis yet they go about alive and kicking! They are much too powerful and much too manipulative and wicked and deceitful to be touched, let alone get hanged to death.
Also, what happens to molesters and rapists in the security bandobast posted in the so called 'Conflict zones …disturbed areas'? Protected they are by those Special Acts.
Also, if the State cannot give birth then it cannot kill. Should it hang a human form! More so, if the human form is very, very remorseful, pleading to be left alive.
Can't there be much too superior ways to deal with rapists. Can't these four raped -accused instead of getting hanged, be made to work as labourers in the prison all the remaining years of their lives. Let their alive forms be made to live and survive and repent and beg forgiveness.
Think about it!
*(Humra Quraishi is a freelance columnist based in Delhi and is currently a visiting Professor in the Academy of Third World Studies in Jamia Milia University).

 

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