January 03, 2008

The molehill

The Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds, on tour in India, was the target of racial abuse a few months ago. Almost immediately, people began finding ways to pretend it never happened. The BCCI bigwig Niranjan Shah couldn't "understand where this anti-racism thing has come from as we have had no [official] complaint." The police commissioner of Baroda denied it had happened. "None [in the crowd] uttered a single word against any Australian player," he said.

But of course, it had happened and happened again.

In Juhu on January 1, a mob of scum molested two young women. Complete with photographs, this incident was laid out across Indian front pages on January 2nd. The police commissioner of Bombay promptly said this to the press: "such little things happen in every society ... the media was creating a mountain out of a molehill."

I wonder now what I wondered when Symonds was taunted: why would we choose to deny, or at best dismiss as trivial, such incidents? What do we get from defending creeps?

Incidentally, of what possible relevance to the molestation is this statement from a police officer? "Inquiries have revealed that all four of them (the two girls and their male friends) are based in California. They are in their early 20s and had come from Gujarat."


Postscript: One more intriguing police statement by a "senior police officer": "Ideally nobody should have ventured out of the hotel on foot in that way but these people come from a different culture due to which they did and the incident occurred." [from here]

What does it say, I wonder, that a police officer thinks people should not exit a hotel on foot?

What does it say that when four people do so, it's assumed to be because of their "different culture"? When I next go to a hotel and I leave on foot, will I be assumed to be from a "different culture"? And what culture is he talking about: one where people can assume they are safe if they leave a hotel on foot, as opposed to one where they cannot make such assumption?


Sumedha said...

Maybe it saves a lot of work for the concerned authorities. But I don't know, actually, and I don't like making statements/generalisations about things I know nothing about.

But how can people consider such molestation incidents as trivial? I agree, they happen a lot. But that does definitely not make them any less disgusting.

And ya, the last statement is quite unrelated. :)

Aside: Can I post a link to your blog on mine? I know you don't know me, but I've been reading things written by you for a long time (one of my friends kept sending links to pieces he liked), and I like your blog. Is it okay with you?

Anonymous said...

Relevance of the last statement:

There is more outrage felt at visitors/ strangers being molested than at locals (eg. for a Japanese tourist recently, and for a lady from Delhi on transit to Canada who missed her flight and was raped in Bangalore).

I read that statement in that context, helped perhaps by the framing my newspaper did while reporting this.


Vivek Kumar said...

I suspect that the all-too-often occurrence of such incidents tends to desensitize people to some extent. My friends are telling me that similar incidents took place in Pune and Kochi also (and who knows where else!) on the new year eve.

I also found it very objectionable that the victims did not file an FIR (at least as far as I can make out from the coverage). If that is true, it sends out a very wrong message to such hooligans.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thank you Sumedha. The trivial part is what bothers me.

You're welcome to link to me. Don't forget to link to your friend too...

Vivek, I didn't catch that bit about the FIR in the reports I read! Should have read more carefully. (Think I was just so mad and upset, that I missed it). Yes, I wish they would file a FIR. There's no reason not to, and every reason to do so.

Anonymous said...

Such Statements coming from Police Commissioner is not only objectionable but negligent and could be construed as misconduct as per conduct rules. It also sends wrong signal down the line.

Regarding filing of FIR, a couple Holidaying in India for a few days and going back to California later , it may not be a viable option.Those who know the workings of Police ,would advise best to avoid them like plague if possible. The statement of Police Commissioner does not redeem that pitiful reputation.

Police has many other legal provisions under IPC to take care of such incidents.They should take action on their own and redeem their image.Enough evidence are available.

I sympathise with the tormented couple and only say one thing that Mumbai is a city largely of good and helpful people(remember the man in Red-T shirt who saved them and called for help).Exceptions do happen.