BY RITUPARNA GOSWAMI PANDE
RAPE! screamed the headlines of every news channel that I turned to watch these last few days. And ruling roost was the image of the rape accused who was lynched in Nagaland by an irate mob.
The world watched in horror as a mob forcibly entered the prison in Dimapur, dragged out the rape accused, and physically assaulted him after stripping him naked. He was paraded for an hour before being killed and hanged by a mob. A mob which took pride in taking the law in its own hands and doled out justice for a rape which now it seems was not even committed.
The blurred but bloody image of the victim followed me everywhere ever since. And the repeated telecasts of the same news didn’t help either. It has been a very unfortunate incident indeed which we need to forget in a haste. Yes, we need to forget it and get on with our lives. For what else can we do as time and again we have had to come to terms with this sick phenomena in our society where women are raped every few seconds and the culprits have either never been brought to book or in many cases they have walked free after tempering with proof and witnesses thanks to our porous legal system. Until and unless we prepare our women and girls with lessons of self defense our society would never be rid of this malady. Until then such incidents will continue to remind us of our vulnerability in a country that we call our own.
Meanwhile, the ugly head of the mob mentality would threaten to raise its head in the slightest pretexts. The very air we breathe, the streets we tread can transform into sinister battlefields in no time it seems. Guwahati has been visited twice by the onslaught of the herd mentality. The Beltola violence was an eye opener, a curtain raiser to the mob mentality that lurks in our psyches. It has to or why else would normal harmless people suddenly turn into hedonistic beasts destroying whatever came in their way and disrobe the modesty of a hapless innocent girl. Like a pack of hyenas that fight among one another to get hold of the carcass of the prey the mob pounced upon the unsuspecting victim, in this case a simple village belle who had landed in Guwahati to participate in a rally.
Close on its heels was the GS Road episode where once again mob dynamics came into play and ended up outraging the modesty of another women. This time the roadside alcoholics turned moral police powered by alcohol of course allegedly wanted to teach the girl lessons of morality and decency. All of us have seen the evil faces of the mob, which could be our friendly auto driver, barman, odd job man and sadly even a reporter.
Accident sites take on the shape of a mob when people gather and start blaming each party involved in the accidents. Petty thieves or pickpockets become easy prey of a mob if caught red handed. A spur of the moment urge to vent pent up frustrations and let out the steam of failure make mobsters leave caution to the winds and often commit heinous crimes of rape, homicide or mass destruction – a trait often seen in the animal kingdom when a beast is on heat or gone mad. However, ones the animal urges die down the ‘social animal’ returns to terra firma with a thud and once again dons its cloak of civility till the next attack of mob mentality hits it. No matter how hard we try to camouflage the animal in us or try to run away from our animal instincts they threaten to surge up and destroy our veneer exposing our true colors.
At the end I would like to question the media as to what role it is actually playing in society? Is it to instigate or to inform? For the nature of reports in the visual media seems to be more provocative than informative and at the end its society that bears the brunt of the aftermath of such a callous attitude of the media. Its not important who was the first in reporting an issue but how a news or report can change a society and make it better is what that matters. The role of the media especially the electronic one becomes very significant while reporting sensitive issues and it ought to act responsibly instead of sacrificing its ethics in the altar of TRPs.