Monday, 31 December 2012

My Goodbye to the Braveheart

The sun stayed away and a biting icy wind blew as the family members of India’s Braveheart collected her ashes from the crematorium at Dwarka where she was cremated yesterday under a blanket of fog and policemen.
As I reached the crematorium, the first sight that met me was khakhi uniforms of the police. There were ten of them from constables to the assistant commissioner of police, Dwarka. Two constables stood guard at the gate as the family members performed rituals at the platform where she was cremated, not allowing anyone inside. Apparently, the police had kept watch all night as well.
The police outnumbered the others present there, six journalists (four of them photographers) and a couple of others who appeared to be with Congress MP Mahabal Mishra. Mishra was  was there helping the family, coming out briefly to discuss various arrangements with the ACP, especially about facilitating the family’s travel to Varanasi. 
Soon the girl’s family came out with the urn wrapped in a white cloth. It was a very small group, less than ten of them.  `The ashes should not be taken to the home,’ Mishra explained to them as he instructed police officials to make arrangements for the urn to be kept at the police post in Dwarka Sector 1, close to Mahavir Nagar, where her family stays.
The family looked at us gathered there. Perhaps they were wondering who we were and why we were there. The expression on one young boy’s face – a mixture of bewilderment and grief.
I couldn’t bring myself to say anything to them. After all, I was an interloper in their grief.
So why did I go?
When news of the girl’s death broke, I had posted on Facebook that I hoped the media would give her family privacy and not hound them during the cremation. But the manner in which the cremation was orchestrated by the police and the government angered me. Pressuring the family first to cremate her in Ballia, and then to cremate her before dawn (against Hindu custom where it has to be done after daybreak) just so that people don’t come to know (even as political heavyweights attended the funeral) disgusted me. She was a victim of utter indignity before she died. Couldn’t she have been given some dignity in death?
One battle that all women who complain about any form of sexual harassment wage is that of being labeled as the problem. By first making her father issue a statement asking for calm (when the protests were going out of hand), then taking her to Singapore and then cremating her in such a hush-hush manner, the government and the police sent out only message - that she and her dead body were a problem that needed to be disposed off without a fuss.
I went today to say in my own way that she was not a problem. To salute her.

1 comment:

Subhashis said...

And I Salute You For Such a Fantastic Show of Concern & Care

Subhashis Banerji