The plague of violence against women continues unabated, with a 25-year-old woman shot dead on Sunday night as she waited for a bus at South Delhi’s Sarai Kale Khan inter-state bus terminus. The woman succumbed to her grievous injuries, three bullet wounds in the head and face, for she was shot from a point blank range, even though she stood, along with two of her friends, barely a few metres away from a police van. Though reports suggest that the victim was known to the assailant, and even though Delhi Police is trying to hide behind the fig leaf of the ‘personal animosity’ back story, in what kind of a hell hole is a public altercation allowed to turn into a full-fledged murder scene? What were the policemen doing when they spotted the argument taking place, between an evidently drunk pair of men and a woman? Memories of the heinous murder of Jessica Lal, who was killed in the same manner because she had the audacity to refuse to serve alcohol to the man in question after the closing hours of a Delhi bar, comes to mind and once again exposes the bitter truth of the gratuitous sense of entitlement when it comes to a man in Delhi. It does not matter whether he is rich or poor, educated or illiterate, sober or drunk – men cannot take refusal from a woman and resort to unspeakable violence to punish her, often raping and maiming, or as in this case, killing her. This socially sanctioned institutional misbehaviour, assault and a mindset to teach the women a lesson, show them the rightful place in the hierarchical scheme of things, unfortunately, gets repeated and replicated at all times and places, whether it is a crowded bus-stop in the national capital region, or at a desolated brick-making kiln in interior West Bengal or Chattisgarh.
Has Delhi already forgotten the lessons and the collective pledges after the despicable gang rape of the 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus? Has Delhi consigned that unmentionable spine-shuddering horror to the trash-bin of lost time, and decided to move on, shrugging the psychosocial implications of the repugnant crime that rocked Delhi barely two months ago? How can a city be so forgetful, choosing to be amnesiac and not learn from even the past as freshly wounded as this one? As law and order is a state issue, safety and security of women as citizens of this country is a matter that cannot be put under the back-burner or be shuttled around for political point-scoring. Women are just not safe in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai or Bangalore, the shining examples of ‘India unbound’, the metropolises that never sleep, growing by the night. Overcoming this brute indifference of power that the cold, calculative administrative machinery displays towards half of its denizens is not only unacceptable, but condemnable in the harshest of manners.