Godman and nightmare at Bathinda
By Joyce Fernandes
Bathinda: The conviction of rapist godman Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim on August 25 brought innumerable hardships for several cities in northern India, including Bathinda where I have been working for the past few years.
We are just recovering from a nightmare that lasted five days from August 25. We were least prepared for such a dreadful situation.
The city wore a deserted look. Nothing was available as shops had downed their shutters. No vehicles were seen on the road. Schools and colleges were closed. Internet service was suspended as the administration imposed curfew on the city. A warlike situation prevailed.
The worst affected were the poor –daily wagers and rickshaw pullers. I spoke to some village women and rickshaw pullers. They said they had no work for five days and their families had gone to bed hungry.
What is ironical is that their suffering came from a godman with millions of simple people as followers. One man’s sin brought chaos and commotion. He was convicted for rape because two women showed the courage to openly declare that they were sexually abused and harassed from 1999 to 2001.
Ram Rahim is accused raping hundreds of women and castrating around 400 men. He also faces charges for murdering two men, including a journalist.
The conviction and the violence it triggered gave us an opportunity to observe two states – Punjab and its southern neighbor Haryana. The Punjab government under Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had taken adequate measures to safe guard the common man. However, the Haryana government led by Manohar Lal Khattar failed miserably to maintain law and order, especially on August 25 and 26. Violence claimed at least 38 lives and wounded scores of others.
Now that normalcy has returned one question uppermost in my mind is: Why did millions of educated people, including me, remain silent spectators? Why did we shut ourselves in our houses? Shall we wake up now and raise our voice against injustice?
There is a silver lining. The failure of the state government was made up by the judiciary. It deserves a big salute.
I highly appreciate the Indian judiciary, especially CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] judge Jagdeep Singh, who gave the quantum of punishment to Gurmeet. The court sent the godman to jail for 20 years and imposed a fine of 3 million rupees.
I am happy that despite of such pressure and opposition the culprit was caught and convicted. I am now convinced that the law is above everything. “Truth fears no test.” There is an end for everything, particularly the evil. Good triumphs over evil or as we say in India “Satyameva jayate (Truth alone prevails).
Let truth prevail in Mother India. Long live judiciary!
(Bethany Sister Joyce Fernandes is the vice principal of St Joseph’s Convent School, Bathinda.)