MOGA MOLESTATION CASE
MOGA MOLESTATION CASE
In the Moga case, the story takes on a new twist, given that it now transpires that the members of the Badal family probably owned the bus in which the crime was conducted. This could explain why the police took an inordinately long time to file an FIR. For millions of women there is no alternative to public transport. Those who own it and run it cannot escape responsibility. We have often found that drivers are either not trained properly, drive while inebriated or are molesters. There have to be far more stringent background checks on drivers and conductors of public transport vehicles. From time to time, the police conduct a crackdown on vehicles and drivers without proper documentation. But for the greater part of the year, they are allowed to roam free. There has often been talk of modernising public transport at all levels, improving street lighting and so on. But once the horror of an incident, like the one in Moga, passes, these intentions are forgotten.
Three aspects here are particularly troubling. First, why is it that not one of the other 15 passengers on the bus came forward to help the woman and her children? Have people in India become so inured to the abuse of women that they take it for granted and just watch? Second, was the bus crew emboldened to break the law so blatantly because powerful people owned the transport company? Political patronage often shields the worst criminals in India. And finally, if our lawmakers have a mindset that lets them term an obvious case of molestation and manslaughter as “god’s will” or an “accident”, then where does one even begin to protect women’s rights in India? Mr. Sukhbir Badal has since said it is “absurd” to think an incident involving such brutality would go “unpunished because of the company’s ownership”. One hopes this will turn out to be true. Political parties are trying to get mileage from the incident. Meanwhile, on multiple fronts, open violence against women continues. It will continue until attitudes change at the grassroots level, aided by teachers, parents and others, and by TV, cinema and pop culture — which ought to push narratives of power for women.