The gang rape and murder of 8 year old Asifa in Indian Held Kashmir has jolted the Indian conscious. While the tragedy is soul-breaking as it is, what is adding salt to the wounds of average Indians is the fact that the rapists are being protected by high profile politicians and efforts to apprehend them have so far been fruitless.
Not merely in India, but this horrific incident of rape and murder has bereaved the entire South Asian region and has made way for headlines globally. Despite such unanimous outrage, the BJP-led government it seems is largely unmoved.
Despite the gory nature of the crime and the ensuing clamour in its aftermath, the Indian government’s behaviour is not surprising at all.
According to a recent article published in the Times of India nearly 30 percent of all Indian Members of Parliament (MP) have a criminal background. 1,581 legislators across India have criminal records while 51 legislators are directly involved in crimes against women; 4 are accused of rape.
Of these public office holders, the most criminal records for crimes against women are held by politicians belonging to BJP (14) followed by Shiv Sena (7) and TMC (6).
The same report states that the percentage of Indian parliamentarians with a criminal background has been on a rise for the last decade. In 2004, 24% of the Indian parliamentarians had a criminal record, this increased to 30 percent in 2009 and 34 percent in 2014. In simpler words, this shows that during each general election in the last ten years, a greater number of criminals have been sworn in to lead the country.
With such dismal personal records of those who govern India and with alleged rapists themselves serving at the legislative level there is little reason to be surprised that the rapists of little Asifa are walking free with impunity.
True that after days of mounting public pressure, the ruling party in Indian held Kashmir, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had directed its ministers, legislators and senior leaders to participate in a high level meeting to discuss the rape and murder of little Asifa in Kathua.
Indian Union Minister, VK Singh also took lead from among BJP to condemn the Kathua incident and pledge justice for Asifa in a tweet.
— General Vijay Kumar Singh (@Gen_VKSingh) April 12, 2018
However, is this truly enough given the heinous magnitude of the crime? The horrific last moments of Asifa’s life and the trauma her family will carry for the rest of their lives demands that India not only ensure better laws to protect its women and children but that rape-apologists are dragged out of the power corridors.
Whether it is Asifa in India or Zainab in Pakistan, South Asian children deserve better than lawmakers who are not just unaffected by the crimes against them but might themselves be at the heart of the problem.