Ananya S. Guha
Who says North East India isn’t yet a part of the so called and much vaunted ‘ mainstream’ India? It is slowly becoming albeit for wrong reasons. The recent instance of a local MLA in Meghalaya involved with child rape and also child business to use the word euphemistically is a shameful example. Recently a Nobel Prize winner who has rescued thousands of children in the country warned how such trafficking is rampant in Assam. But we never listen to our Nobel awardees. Look how we have sidelined Amartya Sen.
This episode in Meghalaya has been a slur on the state.But I’m not sure how many even in the state are vociferous about it barring one or two women’s NGOs. A man who is an elected representative of the nation, and who swore allegiance to the country’s law does it, denies it, goes into hiding, is arrested and now confesses. All the drama that has gone behind it notwithstanding,the man is a shameless criminal. And we, in the state are shameless and feeling lost. And the fact is cases after cases of rape in Garo Hills, Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills are taking place in the state, but the government has not declared safety measures for women and children. One has heard a lot of child trafficking in North, West and Eastern India and now Meghalaya shoots into fame. Where has the tribal ethos of respecting women gone? Is this the way we rush into the mainstream, by viewing movies and serials which preach violence? Mainstreaming is a process of representing the nation, not by simulating Bollywood or serials which openly show wrong actions of society, rife within families, murdering relatives and so on.
That all this happened in a guest house of some repute,owned by the son of the Home Minister adds to the travail and mayhem of the story.Surely as per law the man will be produced before the court. But how will the society be indicted for the studied silence, in episode after episode? What mandate will the Women’s Commission take? How will children be protected in rural areas? If only there is shame and no self criticism then no society is objective or rounded. Worse still the man indicted was an extremist who came overground. One thought that he would join ‘ clean ‘ politics, and by electing him the people were giving him a chance. It is always easy to blame the present government for corruption, but this goes beyond corruption and is an example of man’s bestiality. And all this happened in the heart of Shillong.
The story and suffering of the girl and her family must be untold. Bit by bit the narrative is pouring in. The accomplices involved happen to be women. Groups are rampant in Shillong indulging in trafficking. Last year two children,sons of a domestic worker of a neighbour were taken to Nagaland on the lure of work. Education is still not given importance enough. Poor parents running from pillar to post to eke out a living cannot pay attention to children, leading to ruthless exploitation and sex. The central government should issue a white paper and document on this and declare emergent measures.
We are joining the mainstream for ALL the wrong reasons. We haven’t learnt from the Nirbhaya episode. We flaunt our money and so called ‘ power’ shamelessly.Even the biggest mercenary would be ashamed. This is indeed the worst slur on this homely and beautiful state of North East India. And we talk about educating the child? Let us see her trauma, and her parents’ first.