Days after the mutilated body of three-year-old Twinkle Sharma was discovered from a dumping ground in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, the country has been rocked by widespread indignation with celebrities and netizens claiming that the minor was raped, had her eyes gouged out, and was doused with acid— none of it is factual as the post-mortem report concluded that the victim wasn’t raped. While the incident is horrific, what’s more shocking is the communal tone the incident has acquired with enraged citizens comparing her gruesome death to the rape and murder of Asifa Bano in Kathua. Now, the misinformation has spread like wildfire on social media, and has a potential to further aggravate the tension between the two communities.
Condemning the gruesome incident, women rights activist Brinda Adige is of the opinion that, right now, the country needs visible justice and decorum rather than giving this issue a twist. “There is a tendency to give this a communal perspective, rather than looking at it as a crime committed against a child,” says Brinda, who also believes that the country doesn’t have strong leaders to take a stand on these brutal issues and are rather silently supporting them. “The whole notion of nationalism is going into a different direction. Leaders have become agencies. They should be questioned. We need to be talking about how children and women are not safe, rather than someone belonging to a particular religion not being safe,” she asserts.
Amidst this indignation, some even didn’t spare the Bollywood celebrities and accused them of not raising their voices against the crime, even criticising them for their double standards. Sonam K Ahuja, Swara Bhaskar, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Vishal Dadlani and Huma Qureshi were among those at the receiving end with twitterati calling them the ‘placard gang’. They were also called pseudo secularists for earlier taking a stand for Asifa and not for Twinkle. “There is a religious bias that people have towards the minority, but at the same time, these issues are not those which should be put into a religious spectrum,” says the gay rights activist Harish Iyer.
Talking about targeting celebrities in this regard, the activist believes that the nation’s moral compass should not be directed by stars but by the people acting as authorities. “People seem to be obsessed with the actors. We need to move these stars from the pedestal and consider them as human beings and not hold them accountable for everything,” he adds. In a similar string of events, a post from an unverified Facebook account under the name of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman accused the same celebrities who stood for Kathua rape victim, holding placards of ‘Devi Sthan’ and ‘Hindustan’, giving it a communal angle. The minister’s post read “These pseudo seculars blamed Hindustan, Devi Sthan & entire Hinduism for Kathua but, Not ONE of these hypocrites remembered they are #Hindusthan today when 3-year-old Twinkle Sharma got brutally raped and murdered by Mohammed Zahid. No placards, no protests, not even a lowly tweet. Why this selective outrage?? Or they were not paid for outraging for #TwinkleSharma ?? #JusticeForTwinkle (sic).”
While the actual responsibility of dealing with these brutalities, irrespective of religion lies with the state and central authorities, this kind of attitude also highlights the misogyny at work. After receiving hate posts from multiple Twitter users, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja in her tweet also urged people to not to make this into a selfish agenda. “What has happened to baby twinkle is. Heartbreaking and horrific. I pray for her and her family. I also urge people to not make this into a selfish agenda. This is a little girls death, not a reason to spread your hate. (sic), Sonam’s tweet read.
Social activist and academician Ranjana Kumari feels that targeting Bollywood celebrities will never bring out any change. “Why do people have to bring them into the matter? They are also normal citizens, and above all, they haven’t personally been there. Nor will they be able to make any changes in law and order situations,” avers the activist. The brutal incident also reflects the absence of strong policing and functioning of law. And Ranjana believes, “This is something that talks about the neighbourhood and when people are not safe there, then where to go? Rather than making it communal, we should say that it is an issue of a juvenile and this is insensitive.”
Meanwhile the accused, Zahid along with his friend Aslam have been arrested. He has reportedly admitted to the crime....