Just finished reading Scarred - Experiments with violence in Gujarat - by Dionne Bunsha.. a must read . I remember how one reacted when the incidents happened and one saw them splashed on TV.. horror, outrage, shock.. but somehow there remained a tinge of disbelief... a feeling that these were just isolated incidents..
Dionne bunsha's book is quick to correct you.
Scarred is an extremely well written book and an experience I cannot describe. With each page you live once again the horror of Gujarat but this time it is not through images laced with impassioned commentaries. It is a simple almost clinical account of one incident after the other that brings to light the extent of the horror that simple individuals had to live through, a horror inflicted by other human beings in the name of religion..
What scares you is not the nature of the incident, but the fact that these were repeated with obeseesive regularity over and over again, with thousands watching as if mesmerised or frozen.. what sacres you is that hardly any one reacted.. what scares you is the depth to which humans can fall, what scares you is the way women are abused, what scares you is that total lack of respect for life bearers, even when they are carrying full term babies, what scares you is how easy it is to incite people to forget everything humane and act as demons, what scares you is the way people can be driven to lose every shred of decency.. what scares you is that in these women they rape and mutilate not one sees his own wife or daughter, what scares you is that this was done by those who pretend worshipping women deities..
Today a painter is taken to task for disrobing an image that is held in respect, but the same people disrobed many women without batting an eye lid..
I will not even delve into the severed limbs, or bodies thrown live into pyres.. Bunsha's book brings to light the frightening reality of how easy it is to get people to act in such horrific ways.. then the cover ups, the gloating as perpetrators roam free and victims skunk..
The most touching story was perhaps that of bilkis.. many times told but in bunsha's simple and denuded prose it strikes a chord even in the most insensitive person: she saw her whole family being raped, killed and burnt.. she too was raped though pregnant.. she passed out and her tormentors thinking her dead left her there.. she lived to tell her story..
For months and months no one heard her but she did not give up in spite of living amidst her gloating tormentors.. but she had to carry on even if only to explain why she still lived.. will bilkis bring the guilty to pay for their crimes is an open question but if they do are not then bilkis's survival would have had no meaning..