Kolkata: Sitting at the CPIML’s modest office in Kolkata’s Creek Row, Kavita Krishnan seemed to be in sync with not just the pace of the city but also the political scenario in Bengal. In, fluent Bengali, she spoke to her comrades, seeking dopes about the opposition. In an exclusive interview with eNewsroom at Kolkata’s CPIML office, Kavita talks about women rights, India’s rape culture, Hyderabad encounter, CAB, NRC and the reluctant media of India today, following are the excerpts of the conversation that transpired:
eNewsroom: You were the face of the movement for justice in Delhi Nirbhaya gang-rape case. From 2012 to 2019, has there been any change with respect to women getting justice in such a case?
Kavita: As a woman right activist, the biggest challenge that we face, is from the police, who seem reluctant to even register case, especially if the girl is alive. It’s like – mari to nahi hai na. See, the Hyderabad case is a perfect example of their least bothered attitude. Had they sprung into action the moment the girl’s family approached them seeking their help to trace the girl, who knows, she would have been alive. And now by encountering the rapist, the police seem to have done an easy cover-up for themselves.
eNewsroom: What’s your take on the recent encounter of those accused in the Hyderabad rape case?
Kavita: We are shocked at the custodial killing – fake encounter in which the accused have been killed. Also, the news of the alleged accused rapists accepting their crime was floated by the police. Where is the evidence? Why they were not produced before the court? Is someone being protected? These are the questions that need to be answered. We are not living in andher nagri, that just because a noose has been made, which doesn’t fit the accused’s neck, we find someone whose neck fits it. We need to get out of this lynch-mob mentality.
eNewsroom: What do you feel about the police doing their job in rape cases?
Kavita: More than doing their work, we have observed the police often misuse their powers. Today, we are applauding them for killing the rapists, but we need to understand that police many a time use their powers against women. Remember, how the Chattisgarh police had raped a 15-year-old tribal girl and killed her. Imphal also has seen the men in uniform raping women and killing them. In both the case, justice has not been delivered.
eNewsroom: Incidents of rape are high in the country. But public outrage is seen only in cases like that or Nibhaya and Hyderabad case. Why?
Kavita: On the contrary, I would say that the public in each rape case gets disturbed. It is the media, who build this pressure, amplify the voice the mass. They did so, in Nirbhaya’s case and also in the Hyderabad case. But the media outrage is selective. They choose to highlight stories which are gruesome and not those in which the girl is alive or cruelty is less. Unlike today, back in 2012, media was not as organised and hostile as it is now. As for the public, I can say from my experience of having led the Nirbhaya public protests. The interactions that I had with them back then were a clear indicator that they don’t want any rapes to take place.
eNewsroom: What do you think about the Unnao case?
Kavita: It is a bad example. How many will come forward to register a case when they are violated? Not many will come forward after seeing the police inaction in cases where the accused is influential. Media bias can be seen in such cases.
We need to understand that a lot needs to be done to create a safe environment for women. Proper street light and public transport can cut down rape percentage in India.
eNewsroom: Coming to Unnao, a BJP leader is the key accused in this case. There are many BJP leaders and religious heads who are accused in several rape cases. But not much is being done in such cases?
Kavita: We have seen BJP protecting the accused if they are affiliated or have any affiliation with the party. Just see the Unnao case, the accused Kuldeep Singh Senger is a BJP leader and a state where encounter has become a norm, it’s CM Ajay Singh Bhist is doing nothing. Is a sant supposed to think or act in this way?
In Asifa’s case too, nothing happened. The accused were upper caste people. Sadly enough, religion and caste play an important role in getting justice in India.
eNewsroom: What about rape threats on social media? You, yourself have received quite a few?
Kavita: They are celeb trolls, as they are followed by the honourable Prime Minister of our country. But what can we expect from the followers of leaders who openly declare that women will become demons if they go out to work or that women need to be controlled by men? Mind you, these were statements made by BJP’s star campaigner Ajay Singh Bisht. They are not bothered about women security, all that matters to them is stoking the Hindu-Muslim divide
eNewsroom: Coming to that, the present scenario, where people are on the streets, protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. What’s your stand?
Kavita: This is a deliberate measure to create confusion among the people. People are not understanding, even for Hindus, before being given citizenship, they will first have to prove their citizenship. The primary target, as its evident are the non-Hindu.
As we have seen in Assam, it will be the women who will be affected. This is a ploy to divide the population on religious ground, which is similar to the British policy of divide and rule. The common man knows little about CAA or NRC. We need to do enough groundwork.
eNewsroom: What will be the combined effect of CAA-NRC?
Kavita: India is facing a huge economic crisis. The combined implementation of these two will help in creating an exploitable workforce. I fear that those left outside the ambit of citizenship will be colonised or enslaved to work at lower pay. These undocumented people will be used to work in inhuman condition.
eNewsroom: Do you think this a strategy of the ruling party in the national interest?
Kavita: This is a desperate attempt being made by the BJP to stay in power. It not being done in the interest of the nation. As a nation, we all know how weak we are in the documentation, and this government is asking for legacy paper. A country where the so-called leaders have no documents they expect the poor and the marginalised people where education is less, to prove their citizenship by providing documents.
eNewsroom: Bengal will be the first few states where these laws will be implemented. Comments please….
Kavita: Bengal is continuously being targeted by this government. But I find this state more aware of these laws than the other states, where the public is clueless about the repercussions of these bills or laws. I can see an anti-NRC, anti-CAB, anti-NPR movement-building in Bengal. And I think they might be leading this movement once it becomes a national movement.
eNewsroom: Who will be the allies in this movement?
Kavita: This will be a people’s movement, of which political parties with secular ideology can be part. But the media will have to wake up and be the voice of the public. The opposition will need to unite. If we fail to stop these laws from being enacted, it will be unforgivable.
Mamata Banerjee says that she won’t have NRC and CAA implemented in Bengal, but I hear that four detention centres for foreigners are coming up. Let me be clear, detention centres are unacceptable. They are the modern version of concentration camps of the Nazis. If she is anti-NRC then she needs to shut these camps and lobby other alternatives of having a work permit to the immigrants after having identified.
eNewsroom: Why detention centres shouldn’t be welcomed in a country like India?
Kavita: See, the government is banking on people to not understand the fact that the government will be using our (tax-payer) money to have ourselves harassed. We need to understand that these detention centres are being made from our money and later our money will be used to keep them in those centres. Also, government has already wasted INR 1600 crore to have NRC implemented in Assam, which they have now cancelled as it didn’t meet their agenda of secluding Muslims in the state. Hence an attempt to cover up their failure.