We don’t care anymore!
• Mumbai, October 20, 2011 at 10:30 pm: Keenan Santos, his girlfriend, Reuben Fernandez and a few other friends were returning after having dinner at a regular restaurant when a few local goons started harassing the women in their group. Keenan and Reuben protested but they didn’t know that these goons would come back with 17 other men carrying knives, bamboos and daggers. They mercilessly stabbed Keenan and Reuben, no not in some remote or isolated locality but in front of 50 eye witnesses who did nothing to stop the goons.
• Guwahati, July9, 2012: A mob of 20 men molest a teenager in the heart of the city in front of a large crowd who stood like statues doing nothing but watching the heinous act. Then there were those who shot the incident and if reports are to be believed instigated the crowd to molest, beat and tear apart the girl’s clothes. After shooting the entire act for 30 mins they uploaded it on the web and ran the news on their channel.
• West Bengal, Aug 27, 2012 – A man was beheaded on a train by 4-5 armed goons. They pounced upon the victim with sickles and beheaded him. The panicky passengers pulled the chain and fled. The head was recovered from below the seat.
It’s no question that the people who committed these heinous crimes should be punished severely but what about those who stood by and did nothing? If you ask me I would say punish them as well. Just imagine if a couple of bystanders in Mumbai on the night of October 20 would have mustered some courage and took on those goons then may be Keenan and Reuben would not have lost their lives. And what about those who watch a girl being molested and shoot the entire incident and then upload it on Youtube?
Call it bystander effect (which predicts that the larger the group of people who witness a crime the less likely it is anyone will take action) that prevents people from intervening to help someone or the sadist attitude that makes the crowd join in and escalate the incident. I find my cortisol level shooting through the roof every time I read about gruesome crimes committed in public view. Some blame it on the modernization of the society that teaches people to strive for independence and stay out of other people’s business. To this, I disagree. What about gang rape of women in the remotest villages or the attempted sati in rural Rajasthan which is untouched by the modern world? The only reason I blame modern world and science is not able to find cure for the worst evil i.e the apathy of human beings. Some say that onlookers don’t want to get involved because they fear the after-effects.
One of my colleagues told me “Do you know why people don’t help when they witness an accident? Because when you take an accident victim to the hospital, you will be the one whom the hospital staff and police will bother the most. You have to keep on visiting the police station until and unless the case is closed, face grueling questions and much more. So, why get involved at all.” Then I told him “put yourself or one of your family members in the victim’s place and then think about the bothering part you just now uttered.”
Then there was someone who said “you can’t live with hatred and anger…it’s better that you forget what you witnessed and stay content thinking that you couldn’t stop the crime just by yourself”. Yeah! It’s all about forgiveness and peace when it comes to others…when it comes to witnessing 5-6 goons beheading a man in front of you…when it comes to men hitting women in streets. But what happens when it comes to you? This quote from Martin Niemöller could be the answer –
When the Nazis came for the communists,I remained silent;I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,I remained silent;I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,I did not speak out;I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,I remained silent;I wasn’t a Jew.
When they came for me,there was no one left to speak out.