Asaram Bapu has long been a part of the controversies, but it was only a few days back when the first time, criminal charges were framed against him. No doubt he is a religious leader and when it comes to religious matters we are expected to show certain degree of reverence but the fact is – no one is above law. And the Asaram Bapu case is one of the most interesting cases where a renowned person has been involved in the crime. The issue gives us a reason to reevaluate ourselves as Indians and teaches us a number five important lessons.
- We do not respect our law. Whenever there is inaction from police or other authorities, we march on the roads to protest against it, which may not be completely justifiable. But even worse is the situation where police is working on the case, filing the charges and arresting an eminent person, and the fans start to cause the interruptions in the whole process. They even get violent. When Asaram was to get arrested last week, his followers protested outrageously. They said it was a part of the conspiracy of Christian Missionaries and other political elements. Assuming that it was a conspiracy, that doesn’t mean police should not take its action. We have gotten in to the habit of dancing on the streets to show rebellion, doesn’t matter how many boundaries we are crossing.
- Hypocrisy is in our blood. No matter we accept or deny it is there. On one side we pressurize governments and law-makers to make strict rules and on the other when a person is accused of those charges, we try to defend him based on our judgment. Neither me nor any of you can tell with absolutely certainty – what’s wrong and what’s not. We should let our judiciary take its course of action. On one side we talk about education and the modern sciences, and on the other we seek wisdom from criminals. On one side we talk about individual freedom, and on the other we whack it with provoking ideology of people like Asaram. On one side we firmly believe in equal rights to women, and on the other the rape victims rarely get justice.
- When it comes to sex, we are illiterate. Mr Asaram once said about Valentine’s Day – “Chhora Chhori ko phool de, bole main tumse pyaar karta hoom; chhori chhore ko phool de, bole main tumse pyaar karti hoon. Satyanaash ho jaata hai. Pyaar ke bahane gandi gandi harkatein kar ke khali ho jaate hain.” It’s ironic when someone severely criticizes romance and love making, gets accused of sexual harassment. But that’ not the point. The point is that we seek sex education from people who are not qualified enough to do that. That makes us nothing but a society where sex is a taboo and sexual harassment or similar issues are not dealt with prudence.
- We politicize everything, almost everything. When Asaram’s case became a national issue, the political parties joined in. Mr. Asaram initially said that it is a conspiracy against him planned by Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi. Later, many politicians from BJP joined in and said that it was true. There is a clear threat to a country where religious powers get merged with politics. Again talking about the valentine issue, Asaram proposed state governments to declare February 14 as Maitri Pitri Pujan Diwas and Chhattisgarh state government led by BJP even agreed to it. There has to be a clear distinction between individual freedom and values. If a religious person wants to spread noble values in the society, he doesn’t need to become a part of politics. Also, you cannot impose values on others. If people want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, let them. As long as someone is not doing anything against law or hurting others what is the point of the whole thing.
- We are not a great nation, accept it. But as Shahrukh Khan goes on to say in Swades – We have the potential to become a great nation. If a minor girl has been victimized in a sexual harassment case, we will do anything from discussions to setting vehicles on fire, except being able to provide justice to her. How much did we learn from Nirbhaya’s case? Asaram told people that she could have called those men “Bhaiyya” to avoid rape. This is the kind of country we live in. Where old people are not sent to jails because they are saints. Juveniles are not sent to jails because they are too young. But both are young enough to rape women. A country where women do not feel safe should not dare to call itself a great one.