The news is both, anguishing and angering: As many as 98 girl students of Carmel School in Dhanbad (which happens to be the school I went to) were shocked to see that 34 of their 98 reserved seats on a home-bound train from Patna where they had gone for an environmental camp, had been forcibly occupied by some youths who claimed to be going for a railway board interview. The news is anguishing because it shows how the male of the species takes the female for granted in such a brazen manner at any moment. And it is angering because when this happens, the society does not react angrily and passes the incident as something that “usually happens” (‘aisa to hotahi hai’).
Usually happens? And you still don’t react angrily? Does this mean that vandalism needs to be ignored because it ‘usually happens’?
What nonsense! How can a society react in such an insipid, impotent manner?
There is something more to be very angry about. The Carmel School authorities lodged a complaint that the railway cops did not take action when the girls’ teachers on board the train complained that they were harassed by the vandals. A senior police officer said that the girls were not harassed and the youths only took their seats.
Does the officer mean that occupying someone else’s seat forcibly is not harassment? What is the definition of ‘harassment’, may I ask!
It is this point that makes me feel that we have arrived at a critical point when we the women and good people in the society should rise in unison, raise a ruckus and punish those hooligans who take us for granted. I would never promote counter-hooliganism, of course. But, I would never mind stepping forward and punish those who take women for granted. In fact, I would be sad if we women do not muster that much courage to teach the hooligans and vandals a lesson of their life. I would hate burning candles in memory of Nirbhaya, but love to pick up courage to organise a collective physical retaliation, never mind its after-effect.
For, if a rapist can get away from the crime only because he fits the ‘legal’ definition of ‘juvenile’, then I would not mind hitting back in sheer self-defence collectively. This is the ruckus I am talking about; this is the male arrogance I am referring to. It should be my endeavour, and also the endeavour of every woman and every sane male of the species, to ensure that rogues must be punished severely without any mercy.
There may be people who would wonder why I am so angry at such an innocuous incident on a Dhanbad-bound train! Been born and brought up in Dhanbad I have my own personal experiences to recount the harassment meted out to girls by the male species.
If goons have the nasty courage to occupy innocent school girls’ seats on the train forcibly, and the police officer has the temerity to claim that there was no harassment, then are we expected to honour those guys with garlands? Of course, I would not mind if those garlands were of shoes.
I would like my anger to be alive always for apathy means joining the status quo. And how I pray that every sane person in our larger society of men and women and children develop a similar dose of anger whenever they witness injustice! That would clean up the society truly.
But one more point to be made here.
I wonder, in the first place, why the teachers-in charge of those 98 girls did not organise on-board resistance and retaliation of the goons who occupied their seats illegally and forcibly. I ask them “Why did you not attack them physically? You would have been clear winners of a 98-plus-strong force! So, why didn’t you?” This is where we need to understand the importance of training self defence methods to girls before we teach them science and maths. I have written about it earlier too. The 98 girls team would have knocked off all of them and then complained to the police if needed. That would have been a different story to tell actually.