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When the hunter became hunted

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed — so said the 19th century American social reformer Frederick Douglass, and his words ring truer now than any sage’s wisdom or well-fielded games of truth-telling. In a strange twist to the justice for Nirbhaya case, seeking redress for the 23-year-old Delhi gang rape victim, Ram Singh, the main accused in the crime, has been found hanging in his tiny prison cell at the capital’s high-security Tihar Jail. One of the six accused, Ram Singh, the driver of the white-line bus on which the barbarity was committed, has either committed suicide by tying his own neck with his shirt-sleeve and flinging it across the eight-foot high window grill, or he has been murdered, possibly by his cell mates, or others, at Tihar. In a macabre turn of events, the predator, who had not flinched while repeatedly penetrating young Nirbhaya with an iron rod, and who in fact, was the mastermind of the whole incident, has been preyed upon by the same social structures that target the weak and vulnerable and hunt them for pleasure. In this case, Ram Singh, although the perpetrator of the worst ever crime imagined, and utterly deserving of the highest punishment that can be lawfully handed out, nevertheless, might have become the victim of the same self-replicating system of abuse.

Ram Singh has clearly died in mysterious circumstances. It is beyond comprehension how his cellmates slept through his death, which is being labelled as suicide. Although, police investigations have revealed a history of ill-temper, constant quarrels and propensity towards alcoholism, Ram Singh’s bitterness could be traced to his wife’s death three years ago. Yet, none of that typically points towards a suicidal tendency, albeit blinding rage might turn into blinding shame in extreme situations, though without abetment to suicide, it would still have been an impossibility in this case. What does it say of Delhi police and the so-called high-security Tihar Jail, that such a high-profile accused is killed, either by self or by others, in his own cell without anyone knowing about it?  If the custodians of law and order are not able to maintain the very thing they are in charge of in their own premises, how they are going to extend security to the whole city, and indeed to the rest of the country? If murders are happening under their very noses, what good will the tokenistic ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ serve and how will it ensure safety and well being of the women, who need to go out at nights and during days for work, if not leisure? Though the seekers of death penalty for the six accused might welcome the death of Ram Singh, the fact that the trial will now remain incomplete is bound to cast a dark shadow on the future of our collective conscience.
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