When Justice Actually Arrived : Shakti Mills Incident

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The world can boast of great revolutions that have changed everything around us. However, amidst all these changes, there has been such twisted interpretation of karma’s justice, which when delivered by our very own judiciary, is always believed to be very late, and lacking the punishment that is duly deserved. However, when a couple of odd sentences passed under the judge’s hammer, though naturally being too late, carry enough pounds of punishment; the moment is rare. It goes down in the history books to stimulate our ‘awe inspiring glands’, and thus, compels us to clap in relief of sighting the reminiscence of justice. It’s often a clichéd thinking that our laws are, if not inadequate, are too slow to act. All of them are thought to be based on the story of the ‘Hare and the tortoise’, with the tortoise as their favourite character. Well, slow and steady did win the race then, but now, we need quick responses. In a country like ours where rape is common, the laws need to make sure that the punishments are doled out within the least of the relaxation time. Our caring Government can’t expect us to be the ‘Hare’, who would sleep off till the judgement, which usually is much below our expectations, is passed. So, here we have reached a state where it’s a one in a million situation when the deserving actually gets velcro-ed to what he/she deserves. This amazing gift of nature/society doesn’t really change when it comes to punishing the guilty ‘cause the culprits are humans too; they have rights too that need to be respected. Those “humans” here do the most inhumane things, and, in a way, personify Satan, but still, they are humans, and we don’t have an inch of space for ‘Tit for tat’. This is just sad irony. Nevertheless, our judiciary can brag about these few cases where the guilty have been gifted what they really deserved. I mean, the level of what they deserved actually reaches a very high level, but the judiciary gave away all it could; it had flown up to its ceiling, and couldn’t go above it. The verdict on the ‘Shakti Mills gang rape’ does put a feather on the judiciary’s resume.

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It was 22nd August, 2013; a normal day at work for this photojournalist, who had surpassed her teenage a couple of years ago. She was interning with an English magazine in Mumbai, and was asked to get her boss some photographs of the deserted Shakti Mills compound. She, along with her colleague, a male, went their around the time when dusk approaches the door. So, there they were clicking photos, when a group of five men came there, threatening them by throwing false accusations of murder on them. Scared they did get for obvious reasons, and pleaded the five animals to leave them. Well, I insulted the actual animals here. Sigh. Anyway, getting them scared was the whole plan; ‘cause on seeing them getting scared, one of them removed their belt and start beating the male colleague; and then, in a typical Bollywood style, tied his hands. Two members of this gang had “helped” the duo a little earlier by telling them the way to get inside the mill. Our Earth was beautiful, and then we came along, and made everything sadistic. After taking care of her male colleague, the five then took her to a different place and gang-raped her. She was forced to tell her mum, who had called her twice that everything was okay; and after this, she was threatened with a broken bottle, and forced to switch off her phone. The victim did, like any of us would, offer her phone and camera, which were quite expensive, but these hell of men didn’t take them. They had evil intensions altogether.

After, these monsters had satisfied their lust and evil desires, the victim was ordered to clean the crime scene. They even took photographs of her, and threatened to ‘leak’ it on social media if she complained about them. One of them even threatened her for her life. Talk about the limit here. After they filled their desires to satiety, she was brought back to the place where her male colleague was tied, and then, both of them were escorted out of the mill. Following this, the victim, contrary to getting scared and keeping quiet, went to a hospital and narrated the whole incident to the doctor. She was admitted, and discharged the 27th of the same month. On 26th August, she gave her statement to the police. Following this, one more case of gang-rape case was reported by a telephone operator, who was living the final year of her teenage. Even she had been raped at the same Shakti Mills compound on 31st July. The feeling of getting scared got better of her, and she had kept quiet all along. It was only after the photo-journalist reported her case that this girl absorbed the courage to do the same. Imagine if the photo-journalist hadn’t filed a complaint, and kept quiet. We’d definitely have another innocent soul given to the hands of this heinous crime. All the accused were arrested within three days. Seven people were arrested overall, including two minors, in connection with both the rape cases in which three of them were common. These people knew that if the victims had opened their mouths, they would be in for some serious trouble; but they had full faith in their threatening techniques, and the society, which would quickly put a stigma on the victims’ ‘character’ in their opinion; and the fear of losing their so called “reputation” would make them choke on their words. Well, so did they think! They had the most non-manly courage to rape twice, and that too at the same location. They were scared all along. Yes, they were. That’s why the threatening. However, they had more trust on the society, and our judiciary. Well, let’s just say that everything actually went right for them. Right in the perspective of a normal human ‘cause on 20th March 2014, ‘The justice had actually arrived’ when a Mumbai sessions court convicted all five adult accused in both cases on 13 counts. On 4 April 2014, the court awarded the death penalty to the three repeat offenders in the photojournalist rape case. The other two convicts were awarded life imprisonment. Two minors, one in each case, are currently being tried by the Juvenile Justice Board separately. If convicted, the maximum punishment they can face under Indian law is three years imprisonment, which includes time in custody. Well, not so right after all. However, in a country where almost all of the rapists face a luxury to what they deserve, this sentence comes as something promising; reigniting the hope in us that one day we’d live a world that is actually a beautiful place. To end with, I’d like to salute the photo-journalist, who overcame the humanly emotions of fear, and didn’t get buried under the threats. She came out all against them, and in the process, put another soul out her misery; and showed us that unless you fight, you can’t really expect anything. Thank you, miss. It’s because of you that we can boast of hope.

 

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