Karuna – Alive or dead inside us?
On Tuesday morning, while on her way to work, Karuna was stabbed 22 times by her stalker. The media immediately called out a war cry and started yelling hoarse about public apathy. The CCTV footage was played over and over again to prove that our Indian aam admi had become callous and too hard hearted to fight back and save the poor girl.
Unfortunately what the media failed to highlight or initially even mention with due importance was the fact that one person had immediately rushed to help the girl, but then backed off fearing assault on himself. It also failed to mention the numerous calls another afraid onlooker made to the police to come to rescue. It eventually even forgot to mention that it was finally the crowd that caught the murderer and beat him before finally handing him over to the police.
My question is, can we with full confidence say that the public was apathetic to the victim?
Imagine you are walking down the road, your mind full of the numerous urgent things that you needed to finish up yesterday. Suddenly a woman gets attacked in front of you. What would be your reaction?
I am pretty sure that a good majority of the mango people of India are not Salman Khans or Hritik Roshans to immediately beat the pulp out of the attacker and save the girl. The first obvious reaction would be to try save her. Then, realising that the attacker was armed and could harm you, you realize it would be only foolish to blindly go at the guy. You try to dissuade him while looking for a moment of inattention so that you could disarm him. Or you could be the more practical kind who would immediately call the police, and probably an ambulance as well to come to rescue. A portion of the public would also be thinking of whether they should get involved considering their visa has come and they need to fly out of the country for that long sought job in a weeks time and a police case would only muddle things and put the already precarious family situation into total disarray. Or some similar personal headache.
This is what the people on that road in Burari did too.
How many of us are truly heartless?
This brings me to another thought, what if the media starts rephrasing such news? Instead of waking us up with the gory and brutal details of murder and rape, what if the focus changed to highlight the people who actually tried to something for the victim there. If done over a period, wouldn’t even the common people be emboldened to help and not hesitate?
What if those who do come out to help the victim are supported by the local police instead of being harassed?
What if helping a victim no longer meant putting your life into total disarray?
Wouldn’t anyone witnessing a crime on the streets react and perhaps help save the victim from horrible deaths even though they don’t flaunt six packs?
Karuna, I am sorry we couldn’t save you. But it’s my hope, nay it’s my firm belief that Karuna or empathy is not yet dead within the hearts of Indian aam admi. We are just aam, we are just human, we are just a little afraid.