Insights on the recent- Hathras gangrape case with Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi
Interviewed by: Kushagra Yadav, Ritvik Garg and Ishika Lohani
Written and compiled by: Ishika Lohani
The Politindia successfully organized its another online interview with the honorable Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, a Dalit right activist, political thinker and social entrepreneur on 16th September 2020. This illuminating interview revolved around the “insights on Hathras gang rape with special reference to casteism prevailing in the country at present times”.
The interview began with a brief introduction of our guest member, Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi. He threw light upon the present time scenario transpiring in the country and stated-” September 14 2020, marked one of the most atrocious crime of all time which shook India from its bottoms. A 19-year-old, Dalit girl, brutally gang raped by four upper caste men to the extent that her spinal cord and neck were severely damaged and her tongue slit-up. This heinous crime broadened its view around casteism in India and highlighted the long history of caste based violence residing in the country against women”
Since my childhood I’ve seen conflicts between the marginalized castes and the upper caste people in my village and all I could comprehend from this was that the people belonging to the upper caste section always want to perpetuate their dominance over others (especially the women from the lower castes). They intend to suppress them and create a culture of silence and inferiority amongst all. Sadly, women in our cultural conventions have been reflected as “objects” and not humans. They have always been suppressed under loads of patriarchy and male supremacy”.
Without further ado, we commenced our interview session with some questions linked with the topic as follows-
Question 1) why does education of women rights lack in our country? How can we gradually increase the awareness of women’s rights focusing more on the rural areas?
”Education is very important for empowerment of women but the most important thing to look upon is the conditions of the villages, for example- recently in the Covid’19 global pandemic, the women who had migrated to the cities from the villages didn’t have the will to come back to the villages, because the villages are an actual representation of absolute form of patriarchy and caste system. So first we need to reform the patriarchal and caste system residing in the rural areas. Coming to education, I would say that both the genders should be given proper education to break the culture of silence and to give credibility to women. Educating the boys should be the aim too, they should be taught how women should be treated equally”.
Question 2) Even after decades, why does “casteism” as a word still prevail in the country? What could be the possible solutions to it?
“Well if we look at this 3000 year old system, “casteism” as a word still prevails in the country and remains to be one of most complex issues of all times. According to me what the stereotypes has been is basically that the marginalized castes have no access to make a revolution, they are just defined as co-existence. But now that the era has changed, we need to empower them. We need to see them as a catalyst for change in our contemporary times. People like me who belong to the upper caste need to be a part of this arising issue by investing in their education, resilience, livelihood, knowledge and health”
“One possible solution to this could be the Neo-Dalit Movement, which is an initiative to unite the shudras and the anti-shudras together and to fight against the barriers of patriarchy, communal fascism, process of injustice and impunity”.
Question 3) What are the roles of the news industries and media when such movements and incidents take place? Do they signify a positive role or a negative one?
“Well, Indian media forms two sides of the same coin. If you see the first side of the coin, Indian media plays an important role in such movements and incidents. They help in breaking the culture of silence and bringing out the social conventions. But in the recent, Hathras case, the media can be referred to the second side of the coin. It has manifested news in the favor of the accused without any attestations and has revolved around the abstruse side of the media. I would say that the role of the media particularly in this case isn’t very positive. They have depicted a very non-sensitive, unsympathetic, indurated and a harbor figure amongst the people of the nation”.
Question 4) Why does the recent Hathras case has everything to do with the caste angle? And why is it important to highlight this aspect?
“In a country like India, there is a very rigmarole concept based on the caste system and as well as patriarchal, which seen together are very linked. If you look at the case itself, when the relatives of their family were questioned as to why the hospital in Uttar Pradesh was not able to confirm or deny rape even two weeks after the assault, and why the local administration did not treat this case with urgency despite the vicious nature of the assault? The only answer they received in return was silence. Also, evident reports stated that ‘...caste bias is still very prevalent in the area of victim’s residence, and Dalits have to keep a low profile’.' This precisely speaks the favor of caste angle in the case”. Whatever may the concerns be regarding this case but, caste has to be seen as a predominant feature. Dalits being at the lowest of the social spectrum are the most venerable to such”.
Question 5) How did the bureaucracy or the police forces, instead of helping the victim demeaned the same?
” Well, it is quite clear from the law morals, that all the dignity should be given to the victim and the family of victim, yet I agree not all the cases of harassment or sexual violence may be true but it’s quite exceptional and rare, if you say. The forcible crimination of the body carried out by the police forces in absence of the family member has deeply saddened and dejected us. It shows us the downcast and dark reality of the bureaucracies and police forces in the contemporary times of our country”.
Question 6) As being one of the founders of People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, what steps has your organization taken or is willing to take for this arising issue?
“If we talk about the recent case of Hathras, our organization first and foremost filed petition to the National Women Rights Commission and also informed a number of politicians (both of the ruling as well as opposition parties) regarding this heinous crime. In such situations, our organization provides psychosocial support to the victim as they are burdened under immense trauma. We hire therapists, counselors and advisers for empathy and active listening of the victims, help the families of the survivors financially, inculcate them into legal cognizance and fight for justice till the last. In most cases the victims or survivors usually become human rights defenders under our vigilance of proper security and we provide them with most of our resources available”.
Our enlightening interview session with Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi successfully came to an end and we were overwhelmed to have him as our valued guest.