■ By Kartik Lokhande :
SHE walked semi-clad, bleeding, seeking
help,and people shooed her away or chose
to look away or get ostriched into the sand
dunes in their mobile phone handsets. Finally,
some goods amaritan,who happened to be the
priest of a temple, came to her help, gave her
cloth and took her to a doctor. That good samaritan must be hailed,but what about
Sadly, this is not the first time
that an incident has led to such a
question exploding into the minds
and hearts of every sane person in
the country. There was a brutal
murder and repeated stabbing of
a girl in Delhi not long ago in memory. There were atrocities heaped
on women in Sonipat.Then, there
was brutal killing of a girl followed
by her jilted lover throwing acid on her face.
There was a rape of a mentally challenged
woman in a train compartment by a goon...
How many instances should one cite? Simple
Google search can bring forth several results.
Allthese cases had one similarity --There were
people WATCHING the crime unfold but DID
NOT ACT! But then, not acting and just being
mute spectators has become a part of Indian
culture since the first victory of the British East
India Company at Plassey in 1757. Else, how
can one explain Robert Clive marching through
the territories won in the battle with a few hundred soldiers,with the crowd of be wildered thousands of locals just watching the troops march?
Had each one of the locals thrownastone at
the marching troops, the scene might have
It did not happen, and the rest is
history.What kind of a society has India become ?
In the era of social media boom, people are
reactive and angry to the extent of hurling
expletives and doling out threats like indiscriminate firing in the virtual space. However,
whenit comes tospeakingupaswitnessor acting to stop a crime taking place before one’s
eyes on the streets, allthese social media daredevils suddenly get reduced to a bunch of pusillanimous presences.
They become mortified
even if the crime is being perpetrated by one
person or 10. Though the spectators may be
200 in number, they do not act against even a
single perpetrator. Rather, they seem to be
enjoying the cries of victim as some kind of
dark entertainment, which they are addicted
to watching in the form of web series or violent and vulgar movies.
Agreed that some of them might be worried
about their sons and daughters and brothers
and sisters and wives and husbands and families. But, what if such an inaction to stop the
crime leads emboldening of criminal tendencies that might catch their own sons and daughters as victims of such a publicly
orchestrated brazen violation?
Such timid onlookers of today
might be convicts of future generations.
Of course, this is not to say that
the crowds should resort to instant
mob justice or vigilante action.
But, this is to appeal to the people not to form a ‘spectatorial
crowd’. Rather, it is time for society to create a situation wherein
those under attack from anti-social elements
feel assured that people would come to their
rescue. The crowds need to become strength
of society and not weakness. Where ver there is
crowd, it must become very clear to the criminals that they would be caught and handed
over to police if they dared to commit a crime
inpublic. The criminals should be afraid of perpetrating a crime in full public view.
It is for the police machinery also to gear up
to stop crimes. As most of these incidents --
people becoming mute spectators and recording the unfolding crime in their cellphones for
social media posts --take place in urban areas,
the CCTV camera surveillance has to be connected with response time of police machinery.
Else, the Central Government and respective State Governments must take note of lax
response in the form of adverse remarks in the
career reports of officers concerned whether
they belong to All India Services or State services. Because, at least a part of public fear in
stopping the criminals comes from the lack of
deterrent action against such criminals and
their political bosses at the end of police machinery. The cops also need to instill a confidence
in public that police stand with the right.
There is another dimension too. If the society is united in standing with the right, no part
of administration can afford to shield the wrong.
The society must form active crowd and not
turn into passive and timid group of faceless
and shameless people.