Remedying social aberrations

By K.N. Pandita – Recently uncovered sex scandal has rocked the city of Srinagar. A totally unacceptable social evil like this one has to be eradicated lock, stock and barrel.

Societies as these have evolved are ridden with aberrations and infirmities. There is hardly a civil society in the world, which can claim to be all virtue and no vice. But then the guardians of social behavior cannot allow the aberration go unchecked.

One feels that the sex scandal in Srinagar has been politicized rather than socialized. Many political strings are being pulled while demanding investigation.

Last year a sex scandal was uncovered in Jammu also. It also received much media hype and we were told that high ranking officers were involved. There was resentment in the civil society against this social evil but it did not take political colour and did not cross the limits of reason and social surveillance. The police and the judiciary dealt with the case in accordance with law, and proper action was taken. The judicial verdict emphatically stated that the accused woman was intentionally maligned and defamed. The matter ended there.

Srinagar mobs, prompted by some groups (perhaps with a vested interest) tried to hold the government at ransom till the veil was lifted and involved persons identified and punished. The big demonstrations that hurled accusations on unknown and unidentified culprits aimed at not allowing the law take its normal course.

One can remind the activists that such scandals have been there in the valley even prior to the one under discussion. When these were brought to the knowledge of the government, the law was set into motion and proper action was taken. In the same way, the present scandal, too, could have been dealt with in accordance with the law of the land. But forcing the government to invite the CBI agency to investigate into the case and then recommend punishment is something very alarming.

It has two implications. One is that the people have no trust in the government, which they have elected. It also reflects their skepticism about the law dealing with this type of social aberration. What do we do in such a situation?

The second and very disappointing aspect is that on the one hand the people of the valley have been waging a decade and a half old struggle against the presence of India and India institutions, on the other hand they have welcomed or at least shown no resentment to the handing over of the investigation of this scandal to the famous or notorious Indian agency called CBI. How can one explain this dichotomy and this contradiction in the character of Kashmiris?

Nobody will be prepared to say that Kashmir has a puritanical civil society where no carnal or other crimes are committed. The reality is that such immoralities are seldom brought to the notice of the public and the government.

The law will take its course and the culprits will be punished and should be punished for spoiling the morals of the youth. But howsoever strong the anger and the wrath of the people, no dispenser of justice is going to go an inch beyond the limits of law.

If it is true that no fewer than a hundred women are involved directly or indirectly in this shameful act, then one can say that much talked about strict orthodox Islamic moral and ethical code claimed to have been enforced by various militant organization included the Dokhtaran – i – Millat (the women’s wing of militant outfits) and other women’s organizations over a decade and half of militancy has been an exercise in futility. It is also an eye opener to those who advocate strict enforcement of veil for the Muslim women because in the present case the veil has been a handy and effective instrument to keep people ignorant and unaware of the ulterior designs of the wearer.

This brings us to a very lively and energizing debate with two main platitudes before us. One is that an extraneous and punitive measure of enforcing regimented moral and ethical code does not necessarily yield the desired results. The second is that more than dress code the logic of good social behavior needs to be the instrument for shaping the life style of civil society.

In other words it means that the youth needs to be educated in a manner that they are able to voluntarily accept the positive fallout of a teaching brought by religion. But when punitive measures are juxtaposed to the jurisprudence of religious law then a queer situation can arise.

The females involved in the scandal in Srinagar are reported to be the girls of very young age. Now if economy has been the prime reason for their aberration, then we should hold not only the government responsible for this ignominy for economic reasons but also those who have been going around cracking the whip of dogmatism against the alleged defaulters. No ethical code really runs smoothly if it is sought to be enforced in a scenario of economic debilities.

Protestors have to understand that if punishing the offenders was a remedy of this specific social malaise, then the law would have given us an angelically virtuous society hundreds or thousands of years ago. In the annals of history the audacity of violently challenging inherent nature of human beings through Inquisition has met with disaster and defeat. What can have any positive impact on the nature, mentality, environ and actions of human beings are rational and secular education coupled with economic stability. A code enforced at the point of gun is ephemeral but when the same code becomes a subject of intense debate and discussion, its importance and efficacy are crystallized.

Therefore while the authorities will go on removing layer after layer of this scandal, while they will stumble upon something really incredible and startling, it is a big challenge to the custodians of moral turpitude to focus on the jurisprudence of the moral code and not make it a whip to punish all and sundry at will. The purpose should be to create a social standard that has logical appeal without punitive censure.

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