Brave in thought and word, but not in deed?

About a week back, Ms. Mohini Giri was on her way to her son’s house in New Delhi when she saw a young girl being molested by a group of men. She stopped her car and approached the group who then began hitting her for trying to intervene.

She tried to stop a PCR (Police Control Room) van which was passing by but they refused to stop “as they were taking their boss for some urgent work”. Finally, a police constable stopped and intervened in the matter. Giri says that she was too shaken by the incident to approach the police and file a complaint. Later, she emailed the Delhi Police, which then ordered an inquiry into the case.

Ms. Mohini Giri’s description of the incident, described above, was reported by Firstpost, which also gave Delhi Police’s version, which is quite different. Indian Express reports that “police claimed the girl had injured a resident in the area with her two-wheeler and angry residents had assaulted her” and that Ms. Giri “claimed that a beat constable told her that she should not have intervened in the altercation.” Later, she said, “As it is people don’t intervene when a woman is being assaulted. Why will anyone stop to help if this is the attitude?”

Even if the police version is correct, it can be correctly stated that Ms. Mohini Giri saw a girl in distress and tried to help her. For that, Mr. Giri was beaten up herself.

Ms. Mohini Giri is not a ‘common person’. According to the Wikipedia page on her, she “is an Indian social worker and activist, who has been Chairperson of the Guild of Service, a New Delhi-based social service organization …. She founded War Widows Association, New Delhi in 1972. She has also remained Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (1995-1998). In 2007, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan….. is the daughter-in-law of V. V. Giri, former President of India.

What happened to Ms. Mohini Giri is not unusual. Very often, a person who tries to help a victim ends up in trouble herself/himself. Sometimes, it is not very serious trouble, but it can be very serious trouble especially if the culprits involved are criminals or are politically connected.

Just imagine if a ‘common person’ had seen the same girl in distress and had tried to help her. This ‘common person’ would have been beaten up and, if (s)he had tried to pursue the matter further with the police, would have been arrested for assaulting the persons who were assaulting the girl. Since people don’t want to invite trouble, they “ignore a girl in distress or an accident victim on the road”.

What has each one of us done whenever we’ve seen an unknown girl in distress or an unknown accident victim on the road? If you have never faced this situation, please read this NDTV report about Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez and ask yourself what you would have done if you were one of the onlookers when Keenan and Reuben were being killed.

The sad truth is most, maybe all of us will speak passionately about this subject, we’ll write impressive blog posts on this subject, we’ll make meaningful comments on other people’s blog posts on this subject, but when we see an unknown girl in distress or an unknown accident victim on the road, we’ll do nothing. In all fairness, I wouldn’t blame any person for staying away. As Ms. Mohini Giri said, “Why will anyone stop to help if this is the attitude (of the police)?”

Can this situation ever change? I believe it can if and when people stop feeling insecure about helping other people in distress. How can that happen? That will be covered in another blog post.

As far as candlelight vigils/marches are concerned, I personally think candles can be put to better use. But, since I’ve not paid for the candles, I’ll keep my opinion to myself!

This post is in response to Indispire Edition 28: “People conveniently ignore a girl in distress or an accident victim on the road, but would enthusiastically march with candles in hand for a cause. Why?”