New Delhi, April 16: On Sunday, a 'united India' decided to speak up against rising crimes against women and girls in the aftermath of the horrific rape cases in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh and Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir. From Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru to Goa, citizens holding placards and shouting slogans mourned the growing atrocities against women/girls and the steadfast silence of the ruling regime.
Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurance a few days ago that the "guilty won't be spared" after he decided to break his silence over the two horrific rape incidents in the recent times, the people of the country are not yet convinced that the ruling regime is actually serious to book and punish the rapists and their accomplices at the earliest.
The details pertaining to both the cases have shocked the conscience of the nation as involvement of people belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hindu right-wing groups have been established by the investigations. Since justice has been delayed in the two cases, the people of India have demanded exemplary punishment to be meted out to the culprits.
In the last few days, the nation has been demanding justice for the 8-year-old girl from Jammu's Kathua, who was kidnapped, drugged, gang-raped and killed by eight men in January to instill fear in people belonging to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, and 16-year-old teenager from Uttar Pradesh's Unnao, who was allegedly raped last year by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar. Recently, the 16-year-old's father died in the police custody after being brutally beaten by the MLA's brother.
The Sunday protests in various parts of the country reminded people of similar rallies that were hosted across India after the brutal gang rape and murder of 23-year-old paramedic student in Delhi in December 2012.
Since a lot of politics, bigotry and religious angles have been played out over both the rape cases, the protesters asked the political class to stop using women/girls' bodies for their vote bank.
Placards at the protest marches with messages like "she was a child, a daughter and a human and not an instrument for your bigotry", "patriarchy kills", "can't believe I still have to protest in 2018", "silence is no longer an option", "no religion for rapists they are criminals" and "break the silence and end brutality", to name a few, summed up the anger and emotions of Indians living under the shadow of rape and violence.
On social media, the hashtag--#SpeakUpIndia--has been trending since Sunday.