When we fail children

[ Tongam Rina ]
Since December 23rd, four minors have been raped. Of the four, two were killed.
On February 12, a five-year-old kindergarten student went missing from near her home in Namgo Mishmi village in Lohit district. A week later, her decapitated body was found in a tea garden, barely 300 metres away from her home. The police said the child had been raped.
An eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped on February 14 in Daporijo in Upper Subansiri. The alleged rapist is a 23-year-old government employee.
In Yingkiong, in Upper Siang, a five-year-old girl was reportedly raped by her teacher on February 17.
In December, a 13-year-old schoolgirl was killed in Namsai district, barely an hour’s drive from Namgo Mishmi village, where the five year old kindergarten student was killed. The police said that she was killed and then raped.
If this does not move us, what will?
Just for the record, between 2015 and November 2017, 225 rape cases were reported in Arunachal, according to the Police. The statistic should have shock everyone and prompted action.
Home minister Kumar Waii has not come out to condemn or reassure the people while his department is struggling with the statistics and threat to police stations. One can only hope that while he has failed the people of the state, police is reassured of their safety.
Thankfully, the chief minister has given out messages of condemnation and condolence.
Now, will Chief Minister Pema Khandu reassure the people, the parents, most of all the children, women of the state that they are safe?
What about the thousands of organisations including the community based organisations? Why have they gone silent?
When is AAPSU going to speak up for the dead and raped sisters? By now, the Union should have shook the entire establi-shment to act.
What about the PPA, BJP and Congress? Will they admit that women and children are not safe in the state and press the government for action? Is it because children don’t vote that they are not priorities of any of the political parties?
The three MPs have not said one word.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju is busy being an apologist of the right wing Hindu nationalists and hopping in and out of the state to attend festivals. Obviously his priorities are diff- erent. Congress MP Ninong Ering, who is otherwise vocal and rakes up relevant issues, is yet to say a word. Mukut Mithi has not opened his mouth since he was elected so perhaps it is little too much to expect that he will say anything now.
The elected repres-entatives, all 60 and three MPs have no right to represent us if they do not have time to speak up for the safety of the children and women of this state.
The Raj Bhavan has gone mute too. Do constitutional obligations stop Governor Dr B D Mishra from speaking out against rape of children? It is about time he speaks out. Reassure the people.
Those in power need to speak up for the children. They have the authority and the platform.
The low priority given to the children’s safety by the state can be gauged by the fact that Arunachal doesn’t not have a separate commission for children. The police department does not have special unit for children and young people.
Obviously, we have failed as societies and it is for the police and judiciary to step in. For that to happen, we need a strong civil society and political will. The collective silence is not only deafening but it’s scary.
Have anyone seen the heartbreaking picture of school children going out on a rally in Roing? I am sure their little feet hurt while they walked. I am sure their hearts bled, unable to comprehend what happened and what is happening.
Tonight as we sleep, let us think about those families who will never get to hug their daughters again, who will never hear their laughter ever again. Think about the traumatized five-year-old in Yingkiong and eight-year-old in Daporijo.
It is time state is reassured that judiciary will be strengthened and police will be modernized and that rape cases will be fast tracked. These three things are not beyond gove-rnment. Don’t escape by saying that some people have mentality that is beyond human compre-hension.