इंडियन आवाज़     01 Dec 2023 11:39:55      انڈین آواز

Devil’s Own Country

Where is Justice for Jisha?

The other day, I had a spat with a Facebook friend when he objected to my use of strong words like Devil and Satan for a human being. Quoting chapter and verse, he argued that man was God’s creation and such a creation could never be called a devil or Satan. He even argued that Jesus saved the soul of one of the thieves who was crucified along with the “Son of God”.


I always had an admiration for Satan. This may be because of the effect of reading Milton’s Paradise Lost. I found Lucifer, the proud, rebellious archangel, identified with Satan, as a greater character than the revengeful God. Yes, he lost Paradise but he did not meekly surrender to His whims and fancies. Milton’s aim was not to project Lucifer’s personality but in the end the blind poet unconsciously did that.

The Bible is a book written by several persons who all considered Satan as evil personified. All the charges that they could level against him was that he tempted Eve to eat the fruit from the Tree of Life. What did Satan do? He used some powerful arguments to convince Eve that it was worthy to eat the fruit and defy God. Satan, who came in the form of a serpent did not use any physical force to make Eve and Adam eat the banned fruit.

A few years ago in a canteen in New Delhi, run by the Indian Railways’ catering wing, a Lok Sabha member from Maharashtra and his friends stuffed food into the mouth of a Muslim employee who was on religious fast at that time. That is how the MP and his minions protested against what they thought was poor quality food served to them. Now was their conduct better than Satan who used only his tongue to persuade Eve to disobey God?

Satan figures quite a few times in the Bible. There is one episode in which Satan takes Jesus to the peak of a very high mountain and shows him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you kneel down and worship me”. Jesus asks Satan to go away from the scene and he obeys Him.

Now, Satan could have harmed Jesus. He could have thrown him down from the peak but he did not do that. Here, again, he behaved like a gentleman. In contrast, did Congress leader Susheel Sharma ask his wife Naina Sahni whether she would like to be cut into pieces and stuffed into the Tandoor of his hotel before he did that? Or, did Manu Sharma seek Jessica Lal’s permission before she was shot at close range?

Did those little devils seek the permission of the Muslim men, women and children before they were thrown into the oven of the Best Bakery at Baroda? Are not these characters worse than Satan?

Once I was invited to a school as chief guest. My wife accompanied me. I told the students the story of how Jesus saved the adulterous woman who would have been stoned to death. Jesus asked the one who never sinned to throw the first stone at the woman. Since they all knew that they were sinners, none dared to throw a stone at her and they all melted away. Now imagine would any of those who lynched 52-year-old Mohammed Akhlaq to death at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh would have gone away if someone like Jesus had appeared on the scene? They would have killed Jesus also along with Akhlaq.

The people of those periods were more honest and had a sense of shame, unlike the modern leader who organises a pogrom and comes to power on the strength of his wickedness. By the way, my wife scolded me for telling the story which was not very appropriate in the given situation. I conceded her point and I regretted that I did not attempt a rehearsal of the speech before her.

The point is that we as a society are becoming more devilish than the devil. When Nirbhaya was raped and killed in a moving bus in Delhi, I wrote a column on the incident. I mentioned that she was returning from a cinema hall with her betrothed. Someone challenged me that I was wrong as the betrothal was a cooked up story to show her in a better light.

I remember that there were many who asked questions like 1. Why did she go for a movie with her lover? 2. Why did the couple board a school bus illegally plying at that hour? 3. Why did her parents allow her to leave their house in the evening? 4. Was it proper for a girl to spend time with a boy even if they were engaged? These questions gave the impression that the couple invited the treatment they got for defying societal norms.
In fact, that is what Asaram Bapu argued when he said, “Those who were at fault were drunk. Had she taken guru diksha and chanted the Saraswati Mantra, she would not have boarded any random bus after watching a movie with her boyfriend. Even if she did, she should have taken God’s name and asked for mercy.

“She should have called them brothers, fallen at their feet and pleaded for mercy. Had she said, “I am a weak woman, you are my brothers”, such brutality would not have happened. It is a different matter that the spiritual leader is now in jail charged with sexually assaulting a minor girl. She probably did not recite the Saraswati Mantra when he raised his weapon against her.

Once the “socialist” MP, Sharad Yadav, ridiculed women, particularly those who cut their hair while taking part in a debate on Women’s Bill. He can cut his hair but not any woman!

A couple of years ago, he again made a sexist remark about women, particularly South Indian women. He said, “South ki mahilaye jitni khoobsurat hoti hai, utni hi unki body bhi…hamara yahan itni nahi hoti, woh nritya bhi janti hai” (South Indian women are beautiful and so are their bodies … women in our parts are not so [beautiful]. They also know how to dance). No one, except Kanimozhi protested against this bloke’s atrocious statement.
Whenever a woman or girl is attacked it is common for self-proclaimed moralists to mention that they dress provocatively. They often mention that they wear jeans and they go to parties. There was one girl who did not measure up to any of these stereotypes.
She never cut her. She never dressed provocatively. She never wore a jeans. She never made any attempt to beautify her. She did not use any lipstick or perfume to attract attention. She did not eat well. It was not because she wanted to reduce weight. It was because there was not enough food at home.

She never went for a movie because it was something she could not afford. In fact, even when she was at college, she worried about the cow entering her house and making a mess of the arrangements there. Few knew that her shack – called house – did not have a door. The cow knew that the house did not have a lockable door.

Her name was Jisha. She never sought anybody’s attention. Yet, she was brutally killed inside her house on April 28. She had over 30 injuries on her body. At the time of writing, it is not known whether there were more than one person involved in the murder. One report says that an attempt was made to rape her after she was killed. When that attempt failed, perhaps, because of the man’s inadequacies, he used a weapon to pierce her private parts and bring out portions of her intestine.

What did she do to invite this treatment? Was not the man more devilish than the devil? Crimes of passion have occurred down the ages. What kind of passion is this that the private parts of a woman become a battleground where weapons like an iron rod are used? We saw this earlier in Gujarat where a pregnant woman Kausharbhanu was attacked by Babu Bajrangi at Naroda Patiya. Her stomach was ripped open and her foetus was taken out.

In the judgement the judge held that it was very clear that Bajarangi had hit Kausharbanu on her stomach with a sword. “But it cannot be believed that he could take out the foetus from the body because that can be done only by a trained gynaecologist or a very experienced person,” the judged observed in her verdict in the case. “However, the flesh which came out [with the sword] seems to have been perceived by him and all concerned as the foetus from her body,” the judge said.

Bajrangi boasted about his achievement in a sting operation conducted by Tehelka.

To come back to Jisha, she did not live in the thick forests of the Western Ghats. She lived very close to the main road at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district. Her murder which was noticed when her mother returned home late in the evening did not attract media attention. There are at least a dozen round-the-clock news channels none of which thought it necessary to report the murder. The police were as callous as the journalists and the doctors. One story I read is that the duty of conducting the postmortem was left to a postgraduate medical student.
But for the social media which highlighted Jisha’s murder it would have ended up as one of the many murders which are not investigated properly. Once politicians realised that it could be exploited in the ongoing elections, leaders of all political parties have been making a beeline to Perumbavoor to console Jisha’s mother. The media channels have been competing with one another to get her byte.
What’s worse, people have been trying to take selfies with Jisha’s mother who is not allowed even to sleep. Incidentally, between April 28 when Jisha was killed and May 3 when the murder became a big story, there were not many to console her. Politicians see a window of opportunity to get some votes in Jisha’s name.

Even Modi who looked askance at the killing of Kausharbanu and who likened the Muslims who were killed during the Gujarat riots to a puppy who got killed under the wheels of a car has expressed his consternation over her killing. Her classmates did not know that she did not have a proper house to live in. There are many religious organisations claiming to ameliorate the conditions of the poor but they did nothing to help Jisha’s family.
The police ignored her mother’s complaints. Now the government has announced a grant of Rs 10 for her mother and a job for her sister. Jisha was a bright, young girl. She could have become a judge and risen to the level of a Supreme Court judge. However, she did not have enough money to study. There was no light in her house. How could she be expected to do well in life? I purposely did not mention that she was a Dalit because I saw in her a daughter. Yet, I can’t resist quoting Rohith Vemula’s suicide note in which he said, “My birth is my fatal accident”.
Last fortnight I attended a marriage function where crores of rupees were spent on making it a grand, memorable function. On May 6 I read that income tax raids were conducted at the residence of the bride’s parents. I attended a Christian function where the parents of poor, marriageable girls were given marriage assistance.

The function was in the name of a bishop. The poor parents were called to the stage — one by one — by their names and addresses. I checked. They were paid Rs 25,000 each. Five or six people were given such grants. I thought the humiliation they suffered was worth more than Rs 25,000. The Governor, ministers, MPs and MLAs were present. Food was served to everyone present. I was guided to the separate enclosure where VIPs were served food by liveried bearers. Food alone would have cost several times of the marriage assistance given!
Even as Jisha’s murder was making waves, a 68-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in her house near the state Capital. While writing this column, the newspaper arrived and I read about an engineering student attacked in her house by three motorcycle-borne persons. She suffered a deep stab injury.

Why does all this happen? Watch the Malayalam serials telecast by a multiplicity of “entertainment channels”. They show villainous women and men plan murders, sexual assaults and every conceivable crime. No, they are never brought to book.
Malayalam films show heinous murders with all the details. In my younger days, people used to read the Ramayana or the Bible or the Quran in the evenings. Now they watch serials in which wives conspire against their husbands and children engage gangsters to kill their parents. Have not we become more devilish and Satanic? Here is my humble homage to Jisha.

The writer, a senior journalist, can be reached at ajphilip@gmail.com
Courtesy: Indian Currents

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