How far is Delhi from Rangamati?

Recently two gang-rapes took place; one is in Delhi and another in Rangamati… In Rangamati case, a Marma school-girl of class-eight was gang-raped in Rangamati on December 21. Three Bengali settlers raped the fourteen-year Marma girl and killed her afterward. As rape cases, both events were similar in its forms and consequences and thereby both cases were expected to trigger serious reaction and massive protests in the society… it happened otherwise in Rangamati case which unveils the class relations of demonstration and ugly face of minority-majority politics prevalent in Bangladesh.

How far is Delhi from Rangamati!
by Rahman Nasir Uddin on Sunday, December 30, 2012

Women empowerment, dissemination of women-education, gender equity, economic ability of women, right to self-determination and equal rights of women have long been agendas of rights movement in Bangladesh for decades. Nevertheless, it unfortunately did not decrease the degree of discrimination being happened to women and various forms of violence being taken place against women. Consequently, violence against women is repeatedly occurring in the society. Rather, its increasing tends and tendencies are being observed at home and abroad. However, the forms, contents, characters and applications of violence against women have changed over the years but brutality and atrocity are no less than the past. One of the major forms of violence against women is “rape” which has been historically used as an effective tool to assault, defame and demoralize women in the male-dominant and patriarchal society.

There might have various contexts, circumstances and prerequisites of raping a women but raping simultaneously affects a women socially, culturally, mentality, morality, and of course physically, in the existing social settings and systems embedded in masculine perspective of life and livings. As a strategy and technique of defeating opposition, taking vengeance against others, taking revenge for family-clash, even as retribution of land-dispute in the village, dismantling opponent’s mental strength, raping opposition’s women is perceived as a war-strategy to win the battle. Therefore, history of the liberation-war on the other way around is the history of tears of women which is left unaddressed in the popular narratives of independence written by educated class and elite historians. History of Bangladesh liberation is an ideal example of such tragedy where popular narratives simply remark “sacrifice of the ijjat of two lakh mother-sisters” without taking into accounts millions of unaddressed events of sexual violence taken place in liberation war in 1971. That is different agenda which could be discussed in another piece. This article is concerned with two recent rape cases occurred in different context, different countries, different sites and under different circumstances but both spiritually uphold the state of women’s positioning in the so-called democratic, liberal and modern society. Taking the cases not as a technique of defeating opposition but as a unit analysis to understand the position of women in the male-dominant and patriarchal society, this article examines the forms and degree of protests to unearth the dynamics of reaction, ways of demonstration and socio-cultural & political implication of demonstration in two different contexts.

Recently two gang-rapes took place; one is in Delhi and another in Rangamati. In Delhi case, a 23-year old medical student was gang-ranged on a running bus in Delhi on December 16. Six sinners raped the girl and threw her on the street from the running bus (day before yesterday the rape-victim passed away!). In Rangamati case, a Marma school-girl of class-eight was gang-raped in Rangamati on December 21. Three Bengali settlers raped the fourteen-year Marma girl and killed her afterward. As rape cases, both events were similar in its forms and consequences and thereby both cases were expected to trigger serious reaction and massive protests in the society demanding capital punishment of perpetrators so that no one in near and far future would dare to do the same.

However, surprisingly it happened otherwise in Rangamti case which unveils the class relations of demonstration and ugly face of minority-majority politics prevalent in Bangladesh. For analytical purpose, I will make a sharp but cruel comparison between the cases but it is not intended to prioritize one over another. Before going to further discussion, it should be made clear here that for any sensible human beings, both cases are not acceptable at any cost and subject to hate and exemplary punishment.

Though both cases deserved serious reaction and intense repercussion in every quarter of the society but we found fairly dissimilar response in Rangamati case. In Delhi case, media personnel, rights-workers, mass people of different professions, civil society representatives, NGO workers, politicians, general students of school, colleges and universities, various professional and occupational groups, in fact people from every corner of the society unprecedentedly expressed their anger, grievance and exasperation which was reflected in violent demonstration and massive protests across the country. Print and electronic media seems to appear in a battle field with the sturdy criticism of state’s malfunction in protecting girls and women in India that claims to be the largest democratic one in the world. The degree of protest was so forceful that even Sonia Gandhi, also congress chief and chief of alliance that formed the Indian Government, came out of the house and expressed eternal solidarity with the thousands of protestants. Even president Pranab Mukharjee agreed the justification of anger of the demonstrators and expressed deep concerned over the case. Prime minister Dr. Monmoon Sing addressed the issue making official statement before the nation and admitted the rationalization of people’s protest. In fact, he was compelled to pledge to take every necessary measure to ensure safety of the girls and women across India. However in Bangladesh, we found quite an opposite scenario in addressing the Rangamati case. Only Pahari Chatra Parishad (PCP) and Hill Women’s Federation (HWF) staged a small scale local demonstration by bringing out a procession in Rangamati on December 23. Besides, Marma Students Council (MSC), some Pahari adivasi students of Chittagong University, some Pahari NGO workers and Pahari rights activists formed a human chain in Rangamati on December 25. On December 28, a human chain was formed in capital which was also organized by Pahari right activists. That is all!

I was rather curious to know whether any human rights organizations and any human rights activists made any statement demanding the stern punishment of the perpetrators and justice to bereaved Marma family. I was observing with great hope whether any so-called civil society representatives came forward and stood in protest against this heinous crime. I was noticing with optimism whether any NGOs made any statement in protest against this inhuman deed. I was at end of the day seriously frustrated and disappointed. Even, no private TV channel telecasted any exclusive report on this issue. No so-called talk-show specialists raised voice against this brutal offense. Even, after December 16, no print media unfortunately published any editorial and post-editorial on this issue [one or two in few dailies just to maintain courtesy!]. Why? Despite of being similar cases of gang-rape, why is Rangamati case quite contrasted to the Delhi one in terms of reaction, protests and demonstration? The answer to this question lies in the politics of center and periphery, politics of nationalism and the politics of cultural difference what the Pahari adivasi people experienced across historical watershed. We find the class relations as well as socio-cultural and political implication of protest and demonstration in Rangamati case unlike the Delhi one.

Why did the Rangamati case follow state’s reluctance, media’s negligence and inactive role of activists? Is it because it took place in the periphery rather than center? Is Rangamati beyond Bangladesh state? Or, there were six perpetrators involved in Delhi’s gang-rape whereas only (!) three in Rangamati case? While president, prime minister of India and congress-chief became concerned with Delhi event, in Rangamati case even local union Parishad member and chairman did not visit victim’s family let alone prime minister, home minister or local MP. Why? This is indeed the politics of class and the politics of cultural difference. Where Bangladesh state is even not ready to admit that there are any indigenous or adivasi people in Bangladesh, how and why we do expect state would address the matter of an adivasi rape-case with great concern! Where state’s exclusionary politics historically pushed the Pahari to the margin of the society, why state should play role to give justice to a little Pahari girl! Where major part of civil society representatives in the country work as local agents of corporate capital for making money by selling “poverty” and “indigenity”, what it matters really to them whether an indigenous girl was ganged-rape or killed! Where print and electronic media spends their most energy, merits and strength to cover the political circus being taken place every day in center (capital), it, very likely, hardly pays any attentions to the periphery whether a school-going girl was raped or killed; whether she is Pahari or not!

In fact, Pahari adivasi girls and women of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) have regularly been raped by Bengali settlers and security forces since the CHT was militarized by deploying forces in the late seventies and settler Bengalis were migrated to the region in the early eighties. Hardly any rape and killing case drew state’s sincere and cordial attention and rarely any perpetrator was brought to punishment under state’s rule of law and justice. Because the state and state’s establishment always plays arbitrary role in handling the matter relating to the rape and killing of the Pahari adivasi. The paradox of ethnic majority (Bengalis) and ethnic minorities (Pahari) issue is at the center in addressing any incidents taken place in the CHT. I have been passing days since December 16 with the burden of being one of majority! I feel poignant when I saw no meaningful reaction and no appealing demonstration from any quarters of the society (except some Pahari organizations) staged demanding the justice to the raped girl and exemplary punishment of the perpetrators.  I feel really sad thinking how far Delhi is away from Rangamati!

(December 30, 2012; Germany)

13 thoughts on “How far is Delhi from Rangamati?

  1. Let’s not mix the two incidents, no matter how far apart or similar they are. That comparison is irrelevant to improving the individual conditions of violence in each region.

    The practice of comparing one party with another creates a lukewarm effect on the crime subject that needs correction. Bringing in the discussion of Delhi with the topic of Pahari defends the act in Delhi, and vice versa. This is typical in Bdesh politics – whenever a severe crime of AL is raised, the discussion turns into a BNP crime comparison.

    Lets give the Indian rape crime the full attention of horror that it deserves, so that India can benefit from the support. And when Pahari crimes are discussed, lets give our full attention to that horror, to prevent dilution of the resolution.

    1. The author’s point was that the rapes of Pahari women by Bengali men get no attention, whether through comparison or otherwise. Your response is oddly symbolic of the standard Bangladeshi response: “for heaven’s sake, let’s not make a fuss!”

      1. No, thats a misinterpretation of my response. I am supporting the fuss, but within its own context.

        The crime may be the same, but the regional aspects are different.
        Delhi’s title “the Rape Capital” signifies a far sinister Law & Order failure, than the far sinister political failure of the Pahari situation. Much like the Tangail rape case, which is again being selectively ignored (and I am not asking Tangail to be given any more attention than Pahari).

        How many Tangail-type cases occur per year nationwide ? My guess is that the Percentage is no less than in CHT, but the CHT cases get more exposure & publicity than mainstream.

        No matter how much fuss is created, the underlying problems need to be attacked. And the root-cause from my standpoint is Govt failure in Law&Order, judiciary, and governance.

    2. On related note:

      Look westward in disgust
      There’s something uncomfortably neocolonial about the way the Delhi gang-rape and subsequent death of the woman now known as Damini is being handled in the UK and US media… Neatly excised from her account however is the relationship between poverty, lack of education and repressive attitudes towards women, and, by extension, the role of Europe in creating and sustaining poverty in its former colonies. Attitudes towards women in the east were once used by colonialists to, first, prop up the logic of cultural superiority that justified unequal power relations (the “white man’s burden”) and second, silence feminists working back in the west by telling them that, comparatively, they had nothing to complain about.

      No candlelight protest for Lalli Devi
      Who will listen to the voices of the margins? Margins mean those who are not in the capital, those who are not part of the urban middle-class, and those who are not in the gaze of the TV camera. Margins mean those who are silent because they have no one to tell their stories to. Delhi citizens rightly raised their voices against the brutal gang-rape of the 23 year-old woman who tragically died on Saturday morning. But what about the other statistically established truth? That rape and assault are daily occurrences in the lives of Dalit women?

      The Delhi rape is being used to demonise Indian men
      The Ipswich killings were not seen as being indicative of British culture in general, as a sign that British society and all those who inhabit it are rapacious and repulsive, but the Delhi gang rape is being treated as the logical end result of the allegedly depraved culture and attitudes of India and its “hyena-like” populace (as one Times writer refers to Indian men).

      Act of empty symbolism
      In some sense that’s at work here as well. No politician will want to name an anti-rape law after a sex worker who was raped and killed. The Delhi gang rape victim is the perfect innocent victim for a crime where authorities usually aren’t shy about blaming the victim for the way she dressed, the drinks she had had or the men she was consorting with.

      Anonymous Leaks Horrifying Video of Steubenville High Schoolers Joking About Raping a Teenager ‘Dead

      Again, let us Brits not get all high and mighty, either. Amnesty International conducted a poll in the United Kingdom a few years ago. Only four per cent of respondents thought that the number of women raped each year exceeded 10,000. But according to the Government’s Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls, 80,000 women are raped a year, and 400,000 women are sexually assaulted. It is a pandemic of violence against women that – given its scale – is not discussed nearly enough.–it-is-endemic-everywhere-8433445.html

      Before we get carried away like certain journalists have in the coverage about India, let us remember what happens to women, children, and ither victims on military bases, college campuses, city streets and in their own homes all over the United States. Rape is as American as apple pie whether it’s American athletes, pastors, coaches, prison populations, or service men. And it is as European as Roman Polanski, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, from garden variety creepy ‘drageurs’ to Silvio Berlusconi.

    3. kgazi, agree that root causes are different. But I think it is ok to make the comparison not to suggest 100% parallelism, but to create pressure for solutions in both situations, and to make sure outrage over Delhi also translates into outrage on the many other situations, especially in our own “backyard” in Bangladesh.

    1. Disagree strongly. Capital punishment is no solution. Please read Salil Tripathi’s “Beyond Castration” article, posted in the comments.

  2. আমাকে সহস্র বছর ধরে ধর্ষণ করুন

    আরফান আহমেদ•

    একজন বালিকা। মারমা বালিকা। আমি কখনোই জানি নাই তার জীবন কেমন। সে কিসে হাসে আর কোন কারণে কাঁদে। সে কি খেলে? নাকি সে ঘরে বসে থাকে? আমি কিছু জানি না। আমার বয়স এখন ২৭। এখনতো নিজেকে পুরুষই বলা যায় তাই না? কী অদ্ভুত আমি কখনোই একজন বালিকাকে চিনি নাই। আমি শুধু নিজেকে চিনেছি, বিশেষ করে নিজের লিঙ্গটাকে অবলম্বন করেই নিজের পরিচয়টা পেয়েছি। কি আশ্চর্য, আমার নিজের বয়সও এক সময় ১৪/১৫ বছর ছিল, আমি নিজেও এক সময় অষ্টম শ্রেণীতে ছিলাম, আমি এখনো বেঁচে আছি। আমি বহাল তবিয়তেই বেঁচে আছি। কিন্তু একজন তুমা চিং মারমা এখন আর বেঁচে নেই। ওর কোনো অসুখ ছিল না, পাহাড় ধসেও সে মারা যায় নাই, মাথার উপর ঠাডাও পড়ে নাই। গরু আনতে গিয়েছিল, আর ফিরল না, আর ফিরতে দেয়া হল না তাকে। তাকে ধর্ষণ করা হল, তাকে মেরে ফেলা হল। আর কিছু হল না তাকে নিয়ে।

    দিল্লীর যে মেয়েটি গণধর্ষণের শিকার হয়ে মারা গেল, সে মেয়েটির একটা ছবি দেখি। অদ্ভুত মিষ্টি দেখতে সে। ঐ বাসটিতে তার পাশের সিটে যদি আমি বসতাম, তবে কী করতাম? নানা অজুহাতে কথা বলতে চাইতাম নিশ্চয়ই। তারপর তার ফোন নাম্বার নিতাম কোনও ছলে, অথবা ফেসবুকের আইডি। তার সাথে অবিরাম কথা বলতে চাইতাম হয়তো, হয়তো তার দিকে তাকিয়ে কোনও একদিন প্রেম নিবেদন করে বসতাম। কিন্তু ওর সাথে এমনটি হল না। তাকে ধর্ষণ করা হল, গণধর্ষণ, তাকে হত্যা করা হল। তাকে তিলে তিলে মারা হল। তাকে কে মারল?আমি কখনই বলব না কিছু পুরুষরূপী জানোয়ার তাকে হত্যা করেছে। আমি কখনই বলব না কিছু কাপুরুষ এই সব করে। আমি দেখেছি, আমি শিখেছি, আমি জেনেছি, পুরুষরাই এমন করে। তারা জানোয়ার না, তারা কাপুরুষ না, তারা নিখাদ পুরুষ। একশ শতাংশ পুরুষ, সহস্র শতাংশ পুরুষ। আজ সহস্র বছর ধরে তারা পৃথিবীতে টিকে আছে। শত সহস্র বছর ধরে মানুষকে তারা ধর্ষণ করে যাচ্ছে, ধর্ষণের পরে খুন করে ফেলে রাখছে। তারা খুন করে ফেলে রাখছে, যেন সাক্ষী না থাকে। আর যেন পৌনপুনিকভাবে তারা তাদের প্রবৃত্তি নিবারণ করতে পারে।

    দিল্লীর মেয়েটিকে নিয়ে, দিল্লীর সেই মানুষটিকে নিয়ে, একটা মিছিল হল, পুলিশের সাথে মারামারি হল। লোকজন অন্তত চোখের পানি ফেললেন। কিন্তু তুমা চিংকে নিয়ে কিছুই হল না। তুমা চিংরা মার খাবে, অযুত বছর ধরে ধর্ষিত হবে, তারা ধর্ষকের হাতে খুন হবে। তারা মারমা, তারা চাকমা, তারা ম্রোং, তারা বাঙালীদের হাতে নিরন্তন ধর্ষিত হবে, তাদের খুন করা হবে, একজন কল্পনা চাকমাকে নিখোঁজ করে ফেলা হবে। আমরা কেউ জানবো না। আমরা জানলেও কেউ কিছু করবো না। এই দেশ তাদের না। বাঙালীদের জন্মেরও বহু আগে থেকে যে ভূমিতে তারা, হেসে খেলে বেড়িয়েছে, তীরের ফলায় আহারের রক্ত মাখিয়েছে, আজ দখল হয়ে গেছে সেটা। আজ দখ্ল হয়েছে তাদের ভূমি, দখল হয়েছে তাদের শরীর, দখল হয়েছে তাদের জীবন, এমনকি তাদের মৃত্যু পর্যন্ত দখল করে নিয়েছি আমরা, আমরা বাঙালীরা। তাই তুমা চিং-এর জন্য আমাদের স্বান্তনাও বরাদ্দ নেই, নেই একটু চুক চুক শব্দ বরাদ্দও।


    লেখক: আলোকচিত্রী

    মুক্তমঞ্চে প্রকাশিত লেখা/মতামতের দৃষ্টিভঙ্গী সংশ্লিষ্ট লেখকের নিজস্ব; এর সাথে উন্মোচনডটকমের দৃষ্টিভঙ্গী বা নীতিমালার মিল না-ও থাকতে পারে। মুক্তমঞ্চে লেখার ঠিকানা:

  3. চি ঠি প ত্র

    | তারিখ: ০২-০১-২০১৩
    বাঙালি নারীও নিরাপত্তাহীন
    ২৮ ডিসেম্বর ২০১২ প্রথম আলোয় সাংবাদিক হরি কিশোর চাকমার লেখা ‘আদিবাসী নারীর নিরাপত্তাহীনতা’ লেখাটি আমাকে বেশ নাড়া দিয়েছে। পার্বত্য চট্টগ্রামে নারীর প্রতি সহিংসতা হলে তার ন্যায্য বিচারের জন্য আমরা (নারীর প্রতি সহিংসতা কমিটির সদস্যরা) সব সময় প্রতিবাদমুখর।

    হরি কিশোর চাকমার লেখায় শুধু আদিবাসী নারীদের ধর্ষণের পরিসংখ্যান এসেছে। এই পার্বত্য এলাকায় আদিবাসী নারী ও কিশোরী ছাড়াও বাঙালি নারী ও কিশোরীরাও ধর্ষণ ও হত্যাযজ্ঞের শিকার হয়ে আসছে। যেসব এলাকায় নারীর প্রতি সহিংসতা ঘটে, তার মধ্যে রাঙামাটি জেলার লংগদু, বাঘাইছড়ি, কাউখালী এবং খাগড়াছড়ি জেলার মাটিরাঙ্গা ও দীঘিনালা অন্যতম। হরি কিশোর চাকমা তাঁর লেখায় স্পষ্টভাবে বলেছেন, এর মূল কারণ হলো আদিবাসী ও বাঙালির মধ্যে রাজনৈতিক বিরোধ, সাম্প্রদায়িক টানাপোড়েন, ভূমি নিয়ে বিরোধ, কর্মসংস্থানের অভাব ইত্যাদি। তবে এটাও ঠিক, যেসব বাঙালি নারী (শিশু ও কিশোরী) ধর্ষণ ও হত্যার শিকার হয়েছে, তা নিজ সম্প্রদায়ের লোক দ্বারা। নারীর প্রতি সহিংসতা বন্ধের জন্য কাজ করতে গিয়ে দেখেছি, যৌতুকের কারণে রাঙামাটি, বুড়িঘাট ও বাঘাইছড়িতে ইয়াছমীন, ফাতেমা, জোহরারা প্রাণ দিয়েছেন। ফাতেমা আর জোহরাকে হত্যার পর সাম্প্রদায়িকতায় রূপ দেওয়ার অর্থাৎ আদিবাসীর দ্বারা ধর্ষণ ও হত্যার ঘটনা হিসেবে চালানোর চেষ্টা করা হয়েছিল। এভাবে নারীর প্রতি সহিংসতার ঘটনাকে সাম্প্রদায়িক কোন্দলের বলি বলে চালানোর চেষ্টা অশুভ লক্ষণ।

    এর প্রতিকারের উপায় কী? যদি সাম্প্রদায়িক কোন্দলের নামে নিজেদের সম্প্রদায়ের অপরাধীদের আড়াল করার চেষ্টা করা হয়, তাহলে অপরাধ ও অপরাধীর জন্ম হবে। পার্বত্য চট্টগ্রামে ভবিষ্যতে বাঙালি সমাজে নারীদের অবস্থা কেমন, তা ভাবার বিষয়। কারণ, যার চুরি করার অভ্যাস, সে সুযোগ পেলে নিজের ঘরেও চুরি করে, তা সবারই জানা। তাই নারীর প্রতি সহিংসতাকে রাজনৈতিক, সাম্প্রদায়িক চিন্তাচেতনার ঊর্ধ্বে রেখে আদিবাসী-বাঙালি সমাজ একত্র হয়ে নারীর প্রতি সব ধরনের অপরাধ ও অপরাধীর বিরুদ্ধে কাজ করে যেতে হবে। প্রতিবাদ করতে হবে। সাম্প্রদায়িক সম্প্রীতি বাড়াতে হবে।

    টুকু তালুকদার, রাঙামাটি।

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