Rabia Is The New Nirbhaya, But The Times Have Changed

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Candles lit to pay homage to Nirbhaya after calling it a “rarest of rare” case, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence on all four convicts in the brutal 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape that led to her death and caused nationwide outrage in New Delhi on May 5, 2017. — IANS

Despite gruesome nature of the crime there is complete silence in the mainstream media

A F Kirmani | Clarion India

As the gory details of the Rabia Saifi murder and alleged rape case come to the fore, one is inadvertently reminded of the Nirbhaya rape and murder case that shook the very foundations of the country’s socio-political structure, nine years ago. Within hours the brutality done to the 23 year old Jyoti Singh had found its way to the front pages of the country’s most prominent newspapers and TV news anchors had minced no words in pointing out the administrative failures that had led to the gruesome crime. No less than the Prime Minister of the country had come on air to condemn the gruesome crime and the Delhi police had proved its alacrity and efficiency by nabbing all the culprits within days of the commitment of the crime.

For a few days after the Nirbhaya case some of us had genuinely believed that the young girl’s supreme sacrifice will actually make the world safer for the rest of us. We had believed that what had happened with Jyoti Singh was the pinnacle of beastility, that nothing could surpass the level of cruelty that Jyoti had been subjected to.We had also believed it to be the tripping point of our collective conscience – that nothing more and no more will be tolerated. Of course our naive beliefs stood to be busted. Despite the unprecedented outrage of the Nirbhaya case and despite the formation of newer laws to tackle rape cases, things continued to become worse over the years. The Muzaffarnagar rapes that took place in the September of 2013, barely nine months after the Nirbhaya case remains unresolved even eight years later. In the meanwhile, a rape victim in Unnao lost her father while he was in judicial custody and two more members of her family while they were travelling in a car. Soon after, an eight year old Asifa Bano got raped and killed in Kathua and the nation witnessed a pro-rapist rally – probably the first of its kind. Exactly a year ago, in September 2020, a young woman in Hathras was gang raped, murdered and then stealthy cremated.

Not a single day passes when one does not come across a news about a rape or a rape-murder. Everyday, female dignity and female life becomes cheaper than the previous day. For a long time now the society has been in a moral free fall. But if there is one case of a crime against a woman that surpasses in its physical brutality and beastility upon the victim, almost every other case in public knowledge it is that of Rabia Saifi.

In a video released by her cousin he gave out the bone chilling details of her murder – a knife had been driven through her mouth, her breasts had been chopped off, a knife had gone through her palm, her neck had been almost entirely cut off and her private parts had been badly mutilated.

However, despite the gruesome nature of the crime and despite the fact that the victim was a civil defence officer attached with the DM office in the national capital and her murder took place in Faridabad which falls under the NCR there is complete silence on it in the main stream media. Unlike the Nirbhaya case, this has not been covered by any prominent newspaper or news channel and the state’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has not spoken a word about it.The mainstream media’s silence on a crime that should have rocked the nation by now is not just strange but also unnerving. The news anchors who have been for weeks now crying themselves hoarse over women’s oppression in a neighbouring country have gone mute on a woman’s gruesome murder (and alleged rape) in the NCR itself.

The only voices that have been raised for Rabia Saifi are those on the social media and a in few protest rallies. Now one can only hope that the stir created on the social media gains momentum and propels the administration into action. One also hopes that the world class network of CCTV cameras in Delhi that the Chief Minister recently expressed pride in, but which could neither deter nor prevent the abduction of a civil defence officer, atleast prove useful in taking the case to its logical conclusion.

A F Kirmani is a Hyderabad-based writer. She tweets at @afkirmani

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