By Shruti Sunderraman
All the prevention and preparing yesterday to resist Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s entourage of goons by the Haryana and Punjab police went down a horrifying road on Friday afternoon. In a massive display of violence, Singh’s supporters from his sect, Dera Sauda Saccha, upturned trees, burnt shops, vans, gurudwaras and launched a full-blown attack in agitation. The reason for their agitation is apparent. Singh was convicted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court yesterday on two counts of rape. The violence ensued by his dera, has killed 35 people and has injured over 300.
That’s two lakh people raging in support of a convicted rapist. Naturally, his fellow ‘sadhus’ came to his rescue, trying to mansplain.. rape.
Sakshi Maharaj says ‘only’ 1 woman accused #RamRahimSingh of rape, but crores are his bhakts.Its a conspiracy against Indian culture he says pic.twitter.com/RkzAnq1NIL
— Smita Prakash (@smitaprakash) August 25, 2017
We wish it had stopped at the Sadhus. Lord and brainfry Subramanian Swamy, a Rajya Sabha MP, tweeted his support for Singh by saying people are conspiring to put all self-styled ‘godmen’ in prison. No sir, we’re trying to put goddamn convicted rapists in prison. Bleddy.
A new threat to Sadhus: Politicians& ashramites wanting to grab Ashram wealth by sending the Swamijis to jail. Sadhus must groom successors
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) August 25, 2017
And then there’s people like actor Sidharth Malhotra who don’t even let mass violence get in the way of PR promotions.
To all the people of Haryana , please stay safe. Hope you can see our film soon #Agentleman #PeaceAndLove
— Sidharth Malhotra (@S1dharthM) August 25, 2017
A hashtag saying ‘ISupportMSG’ (MSG is his self-given acronym for ‘Messenger of God’) did the rounds on Twitter yesterday. But perhaps the most disgusting of it all is a report that described how his Dera’s memebers would call his rapes as ‘pitaji’s maaf’ (father’s pardon). Reports have also surfaced about Singh getting special treatment in his Haryana prison with bottled water and a special assistant.
Imagine a world where two lakh people took to the streets to support rape survivors instead of rapists, where a woman filing a complaint against her rapist would be cheered on the streets. But of course, that’s too far-fetched, yes?
Anyone still wondering why women are unsafe? look at the support a rapist has after being convicted by the highest court! #RamRahimSingh
— Archana Sinha (@archanasin) August 25, 2017
“How dare you call India unsafe for women?!”, asks a country where riots in support of a rapist have paralysed the national capital region.
— Peglet (@PedestrianPoet) August 25, 2017
A report states that rapes in Delhi have tripled since Jyoti Singh’s case in 2012. There were three cases of horrific rapes in Haryana this year. A woman was gangraped and mudered in Rohtak, another was gang-raped in a moving car in Gurgaon, while a 10-year-old girl was declared pregnant because she was raped by her step-father repeatedly.
But the streets remained silent, the buses remained intact, nobody raised an eyebrow or a voice. The dream of women gaining blind support for reporting crimes against them is a distant one. But here’s three things we can do about our attitude towards Singh’s case meanwhile.
Let’s pay more attention to the real heroes: the women who came forward to file a complaint against Singh.
Credit to gritty women who braved threats to bring #RamRahimSingh to justice and CBI court judge who showed far more spine than Khattar govt
— Aditya Menon (@AdityaMenon22) August 25, 2017
Salute the courage of both women who stood firm against such an influential rapist, always shielded by blind supporters. Break your silence.
— Kailash Satyarthi (@k_satyarthi) August 25, 2017
Let’s remember the journalist responsible for exposing Singh’s crimes, who paid a huge price for his courage.
Lest we forget: 15 yrs ago, journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, was shot dead for bringing out #RamRahimSingh‘s rape case out in the public. pic.twitter.com/2Xu7pTKc2K
— Neeraj Ghaywan (@ghaywan) August 25, 2017
But most importantly, let’s stop calling Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh a ‘godman’ or a ‘sadhu’. He’s a convicted rapist and that’s the only descriptor he needs.
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