Khurshid Anwar's Suicide: Some Unanswered Questions
By Shruti Chaturvedi & Utpala Shukla
13 July, 2014
It has been more than six months to the suicide of Mr. Khurshid Anwar, a writer and activist reputed for his life-long struggle for upholding the rights and dignity of the downtrodden, not only in India but the whole Indian subcontinent. He had taken the extreme step on December 18 by jumping off the roof of his apartment building after suffering immense mental torture of relentless social media trial over an alleged rape incident.
The alleged rape took place on 12 September 2013. The victim and her friends went to Madhu Kishwar, a social activist, and get herself filmed with 6 others who were not even present on the venue where alleged rape took place . Madhu Kishwar did not circulate the video claiming, in an article after the suicide of Mr. Anwar, that she did not want to rush ahead of or behind, the 'victim'. The video was circulated without even doing as much as blurring the face of the complainant. The curious thing is that the alleged victim or the people advising her never filed a police complaint against the accuesd Khurshid Anwar.
Mrs. Kavita Krishnan Polit Bureau member of Communist Party of India, Marxist-Leninist (Liberation) approached the board members of the Institute of Social Democracy, (ISD) of which Mr. Anwar was executive director, demanding action against him. It was at this point that Mr. Anwar took the case to a court of law and filed a defamation suite, the only legal process in the case till he was lynched by the mobs.
On the evening of December 17, 2013 Kavita Krishnan appeared on a show of India TV, a decisively right wing electronic news channel, which aired the witch hunt and declared Mr. Anwar guilty as if the channel were a court of law. The diatribes of Mr. Rajat Sharma, the anchor of the show, included assertions like "ham balatakari ko uske anzam tak pahuchayenge", i.e. "we will ensure that the rapist gets his dues." This media trial was in essence a media murder.
The fact that every allegation of rape, or sexual assault, in fact, any crime, needs to be expeditiously investigated with due process of law is a given one. Sadly, in this instance, those alleging rape never went to the police or took any steps to bring the matter to a court of law. They chose, instead, to engage in a vicious social media campaign, forgetting that even an accused has a right to defend himself.
Taking cognisance of this, some women members of the ISD Team had written an email to Kavita Krishnan in January, soon afterKhurshid Anwar's death which she never bothered to reply. She chose, rather, to let the smear campaign continue even after his death. Yesterday, that is 12 August 2014, Utpala Shukla, an ISD member called her to inquire about the same. She talked to her indecently and disconnected the phone. That is when the ISD team members decided to go public with this letter which is produced below.
We expect that Mrs krishnan will come clean on her role in Khurshid's death.
Dear Ms. Kavita Krishnan,
We want to raise some questions on the role played by people who were active and in the fore front in taking up the allegation on Khurshid Anwar of alleged rape and his suicide. Since you were involved from the beginning in this entire episode, we are posing some questions to you.
1. From whom and when did you get the information about the alleged rape?
2. Who were these people and from which organization? Were they known to you or to your organization, earlier?
3. Were you aware of the existence of the CD? Did you know that it was in active circulation?
4. Did you take the action in your personal capacity or at your organizational level? Was it discussed at any forum in your organization or party?
5. Did you ever suspect the process or the making of C.D.?
6. Is making video of an alleged rape victim the right process? Did you ever tell the people who had come to you with the CD or information that CD should not be circulated? Were you not aware that Dr. Ashutiosh Kumar was encouraging people to watch the CD telling them that he was convinced that Khurshid Anwar had committed this rape? Did you approve this method or tactically ignore it?
7. Did you raise question about no FIR, no medical inquiry?
8. Did you have any information whether the alleged victim got any medical help or not?
9. Did you try to contact other feminist organizations and share this information with them?
10. Do you have any experience of dealing with a case of sexual violence? Did you contact persons, organizations with such experience?
11. Feminist action has always believed in collective action. Was the Delhi feminist circle aware of the steps you and your colleagues were taking in this case?
12. Was it your personal decision or your organizational decision that a campaign be launched on social media and lynch mob unleashed on the suspect or accused?
13. When did you contact the board members of the ISD? Were you aware of the action initiated by the ISD? Did ask your comrades to help the board of the ISD and not go on enacting mob court on social media? Did you not know that khurshid had offered to step down as director, ISD till his name was cleared?
14. No legal procedure was followed. Did you try to initiate it in nay manner? You must be aware that under the new law, anybody who knows about such an allegation, can report it to the police. What did you or your organization do in this direction?
15. Did you make any effort to know the internal politics of Boond team? If you would have, then you would know about internal clashes and money issues there. You would have also known that it is the same group of people involved in ‘showing video campaign’ and seeking facebook justice who were in the forefront of the power struggle within Boond team.
16. Are you aware that it was only Khurshid Anwar who went with the legal way? He even requested on the facebook to stop his vilification and file an FIR so that he gets chance to put his side properly. But in response vilification campaign against him further increased which continues till date. On the 29th November 2013 he filed a complaint against his defamation in police at three levels. On the 17th December 2013 this case got registered in the court. Did you ever notice this fact that the so called accused himself is approaching the law and the so called victim, her friends and the facebook supporters are mocking the law?
17. Even if Khurshid Anwar was guilty, will this stoning to death be the way to get justice? People from your organization/party have actively participated in this media trial. Are we going to encourage this mob justice in future? Why you and your organization have remained silent on this media trial which became a decisive factor in Khurshid Anwar’s suicide?
18. Vilification of Khurshid continues, even after his death. We have not heard a word from you condemning this unacceptable hate campaign. Is this how campaign for justice in such cases conducted?
You are part of a women’s organization and leader of a political party. You ‘ll have to deal with cases of this nature and even more complicated ones in future. What introspection have you done regarding your own role, the part played by your party colleagues in this whole tragic campaign? Do you feel any responsibility for whatever happened?
We are in grief but this pain intensifies when we see cold insensitivity and little regard for processes in such matters gaining ground. Hope you ‘ll appreciate our concern and respond ,
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