When Kanhaiyya Kumar said, “Indian Army rapes women,” he must have known that he was hitting a hornet’s nest located at India’s jingoistic nuclei. That men in uniform enjoy a blatant impunity in our society, is India’s worst kept secret. Be it, the Police, Army or Para Military- these men have enjoyed tremendous patronage from not only the judiciary, but also the human psyche that refuses to hold them responsible for anything beyond saving the nation from imaginative enemies.
However, the fact that this come as a surprise to us, that these men, once they are betrothed with state impunity, behave in a sexist, patriarchal and gender abusive manner- is to my viewpoint- a misnomer. Because, to me, that’s the inherent behavior of a male patriarch in this society, right from his birth, a male child enjoys incomprehensible amount of patronage in his family. He grows up watching his mothers, aunts, sisters working hard throughout the day, while the fathers and uncles remain busy handling things outside. They watch hearing their sisters being told a million times, that she should get ready to spend her life with an unknown man, at the behest of her parents. They watch the mothers, sisters and aunts sacrifice their dreams, ignore their personal issues, ignore their health all the while praying, cooking, fasting, and slugging after their male counterparts. Not only this, they also grow up knowing any form of displaying of emotions, is a sign of “feminity” and that Sadomasochism is the way to find your place as a “Mard.”
Where does it leave an average Indian Man? This watching, listening, growing up in a society that ensures, women feel they are born to slave around. What does it say about millions of children, who grow up everyday of their lives, knowing that a male child would, no matter what, remain the harbinger of hope for his family. This, according to me, gets him a step closer to ignoring calls of help from other women, it also takes them a step closer to shutting their minds and hearts to suffering of millions of minorities, adivasis and dalit women. When this gets a uniform, a hard rubbing of jingoistic, sadistic training that focuses on “killing the enemy of the state”, when this Man gets a gun and bullets and a license to kill, when he is backed by a society that detests alternative dialogues on nationalism that is ruled by a gang of politicians who subvert feminism in all its forms- He becomes a lethal anti-prerogative for safety of women.
This coupled with a hatemongering society- deeply divided on the lines of Caste, acts as an instant mix ground for the soldiers who indulge in their dirtiest, filthiest acts, when faced with vulnerable Dalits, Adivasis and minorities at their mercy. And, if we wonder, why after all, if a few soldiers indulge in little game of “manhood”, should we blame the entire Army for their acts? Well, simply because, right from Morichjhanpi at West Bengal, where the Dalit Bengali refugees were massacred in hundreds, to Kunan Pushpora, where 80-100 Muslim women and children were raped by battalion of Rajasthan Army, to the Muslim women raped during Godhra, and the 100s of Adivasi women being raped, molested, killed and wrongfully arrested in Bastar, not a single man in uniform has yet been charged with these horrible crimes, as yet. Not a single. And this has happened while the Centre was ruled by both BJP and Congress government, and Morichjhanpi happened at the behest of our Bhodrolok CPI (M) Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, all of them granting impunity to these rapists in uniform. So, what does this say about our state’s Army, Police and Para Military? And about us, as a Nation?
The soldiers are not alien entity. Neither are they born as rapists or killers. We make them that, by exhorting religion, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Manusmirti, Shariya- each one of them, anti-women, anti-Dalits, anti-Adivasi. These caste structures, where millions of Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis-hard working, honest human beings are belittled in a society for being born accidentally into a family, when they are systematically stripped off dignity, when they are made to swear by a religion that does not love them, when they are refused a life of bare minimum comfort, when they are asked to clean shit, when their brothers, sisters, children die in want of food, medicines, clean drinking water and a shelter to rest, when their Gods are made naked and kicked off at a corner of history- by a handful of people “accidentally” born into just two three castes- and who by the way form just 15% of our nation; and when after all this, we uphold “nationalism” and “development”, that’s when these soldiers are born. Because they know- some rapes are crime-and others are simply “patriotic duties.”