scars on the soul

How long will it take for little Komal's scars to heal. I am not talking about the bruises and lesions but of the scars now seared on a little six year old' s soul. Komal was mercilessly and brutally beaten by sadistic and sick cops in a small town of Uttar Pradesh. Her crime: 200 rs stolen from a woman who thought her to be the culprit. Komal was beaten in public by a policeman while many watched. Her heart rendering cries and pleas fell on deaf years. Actually everyone seemed to be enjoying the show not realising that the camera was rolling.

Her crime was that she belonged to the poorest of the poor, the lowest of the low, those who often become the butt of many a vile game. And this is no isolated incident. The poor and voiceless are subjected to such brutality day in and day out.

The images played out yesterday are disturbing in more ways than one. The despair of the tiny girl in her long skirt and bare feet, screaming and pleading is disturbing indeed but what was more frightening was the look of sadistic pleasure on the faces of the perpetrators, what was more disturbing was the smiles and sneers and the total absence of sensitivity of those looking on.

Komal's horrific story is the talk of the day as is always the case. Debates are aired on every channel. In one such debate a retired police officer mentioned the fact that policemen were harassed, stressed and overworked and thus vented their frustration. I would like to ask the person whether the same cop would vent his so called frustration on his own 6 year old. There was talk of the need of reforms and more stringent laws. But a juvenile justice act exists which did protect this child if it had been applied.

Had the cameras not been there was the tag line used by one of the TV channels and one really wonders what would have happened to little Komal had the cameras not been there. How long would it have taken for the sadistic cop to vent his so called frustration or how long would the onlookers have enjoyed the show. What is disturbing is that each and every time an aberration like this occurs in full public view, no one reaches out to help the victim. Wonder why?

But the cameras were rolling and Komal's story was for all to see. Since then a huge damage control drama is in operation: the cops have surrendered, one is in jail the other on bail. Komal's family was visited by senior police officers who proffered apologies, police stations will be informed about the right of children and so on. But will all this heal the scars of the soul of little Komal. And above all will cameras be rolling the next time another Komal is brutalised.

There are more questions that need to be asked. When will we as a civil society cease to be mute spectators? When will we stop pointing fingers at the weak, the voiceless and the poor each time a petty crime is committed? Will the woman who falsely accused little Komal be made accountable? And will the perpetrator of this heinous abuse be truly punished?