During the Nuremberg trials, the prosecution interviewed Rudolph Hoss, the SS Kommandant of the Auschwitz Concentration Camps, about his operation where he gassed 2.5 million Jewish prisoners to death. When asked whether he felt remorse about what he did, he said “Does a rat catcher feel bad about killing rats?” The army psychologist Captain GM Gilbert who interviewed the Nazi leaders on trial, said and I quote, “I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants.”
This same sentiment was reflected by Mukesh Singh, one of the convicted rapists in the Nirbhaya Case in the ‘India’s Daughter’ documentary. A chilling lack of remorse or guilt, where he blamed the victim reiterating the ‘she asked for it’ argument. Even as the Indian government banned the telecast of the documentary, the web has catered to all curiosity, allowing everyone with an internet or a phone connection to watch the film. I too have seen the film, and found it to be a story of how India rose against crimes against women in the face of this despicable crime. Most importantly, it laid bare the sinister mindset of those capable of committing such crimes, giving the perception of the mindset of a rapist a terrifying dose of reality. If anything, this film has woken us up to a face of evil that lurks within our society, strengthening the case for the application of the death penalty for the crime of rape and weakening if not nullifying the human rights defence put up by those who defend rapists. This film has refocused our attention to the lethargy of the judicial system and the reality that despite the Nirbhaya Case and the anti-rape law, our faith in the law is yet to be rewarded.
Yet, the media and the political discussion went on a different and trivial tangent, where it seems the film has jeopardized the image of India. The rationale from the government to ban the film may be legal yet the political argument is very selective. The argument that it defames India is completely narrow-minded, reflective of those who haven’t seen the film. Crime stories are read and seen all over the world via the web. Will the government use the same rationale to ban the reporting of rape incidents? The same argument could have been used for the documentary ‘Born into the Trade’ about children of sex workers in Kolkata who are groomed into the flesh trade, which went onto win the Oscar for best documentary. The same argument was in fact made against ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, but thankfully the film was not banned by the government at the time. The documentary’s achievement is that it has punched our sensibilities with a gruesome reality, a social malaise that can be found in every other country. Let’s be clear, this is not an India centric problem. Citizens including the government are horrified but we shouldn’t be embarrassed by what it has revealed. We should be angry at the slow pace of the case and question the government why after months of the conviction, Mukesh Singh and the other convicts aren’t closer to the noose. We should be angry at why the much touted notions of ‘swift justice’ and ‘fast track courts’ have become a joke despite the nature of the crime.
This documentary should be seen by everyone to keep our blood boiling. Whenever a rape is reported in the country, activists, lawyers, politicians, judges, journalists should remember Mukesh Singh’s words and have no doubt in their minds that swift conviction and swifter execution is essential for the course of justice. Mukesh Singh’s testimony shows that those who commit rape do not deserve the sympathy of the law or India’s citizens. Away from the human rights argument and the legal jargon, there should be no doubt that men like him and the other convicts should be culled from society immediately and sent to the gallows.
‘Show me the true face of evil, to strengthen my resolve to vanquish it’, is a philosophy that has been enshrined in every righteous struggle across the world. Humanity has endured evil for centuries because time and again we mustered the courage to confront the demons that live among us. Similar to a cancer, they cannot be reasoned with and are pure with their intent. They have been put down and destroyed in the past and humanity has been better for it. India’s Daughter has exposed another demon to us. His testimony spits in the face of our justice system and every parent, man and woman in India. There are some moments where vengeance, justice and humanity all converge and we must be wise to understand it. Nourish and reward our faith in justice – that is all the Indian people ask for.