Thank you Induji
Savdhaan India Feb 5, 2013
Mohnish Bahl shares these startling statistics that in India in 2006 alone there were more than 5857 youths attempted suicide, that is a staggering 16 cases a day! Not only that the numbers go up by close to 8 to10 per cent every year, unabated. To want to commit suicide in this young age, in the age of ambitions and challenges could have many triggering causes. Mohnish enumerates: peer pressure, competition, the race to stay ahead of others, the fears of being "left behind" by friends and colleagues, and the last but not the least the torment and overpowering emotions of love in the young and sensitive age. The question now is, that why did this resident of Surat-Gujarat, 17-year old Ruhi try to commit suicide? Yes, Ruhi, whose parents and very loving family creep into her bedroom at night bringing in her favourite chocolate cake with lit candles and find her hanging from the ceiling. She is rescued in time but now as her anxious parents do all they can to cheer her up, she lies inert and is largely unresponsive. As Mohnish says, she has "locked herself away" from the outside world, and she refuses to talk. She does not share the cause of her attempted suicide.
After much endeavour of and support from her parents, Ruhi once again moves out to face the world. With hesitatant steps full of trepidation, and with the support of her friend Ishika, she re-enters college. From the looks the boys give her and the whispers, and pointed references to mobile phones, we can conclude some ominous insinuation. Haunted Ruhi rushes out of the college, masking her face. On Ishika's insistence however, she agrees to go with her friend and her father assures her he will be there to bring her home. Ishika's brother then makes obscene advances and propositions her. Ruhi rushes out just as her father arrives. He accosts the boy, who shows the father an MMS on his mobile, which just blows his mind. A video recording of four boys in the most offensive and degrading situation with Ruhi; she is being harassed and molested. The father sees it all. Ruhi meanwhile rushes out straight into the path of a bus. She is very gravely wounded. As the family faces this repeated and tragic crisis, Ruhi slips into coma.
Mohnish gravely points out, that Ruhi's second attempt to end her life put her in hospital in a coma; but now the cause that was driving this girl to take such an extreme step was known: that obscene MMS involving her which was broadcast widely in the college and the cruel humiliation was unbearable for Ruhi.
The shell-shocked father Mahesh and police-officer uncle take it upon themselves to trace the culprits and ensure they are punished for their heinous act. But the case gets immensely complicated. The MMS had originated in Mumbai, and Ruhi had never been there. To get to the bottom of it, Mahesh goes to Mumbai. The boys are traced; they work in a hotel in Goregaon, but with their mobile records and their boss's verification it is proved they had not gone out of Mumbai! So how was that obscene MMS generated? The mystery deepens and Mahesh is totally confounded when the hotel manager identifies Ruhi's picture as a girl called Rupal, a resident of Jharkand. Mahesh refuses to give up. He goes to Jharkhand and what he finds shakes him to his blood-curdling roots: he sees Ruhi's look-alike Rupal, who, it turns out was the real unfortunate victim of the obscenity. Ruhi was the inadvertent victim of a mistaken identity but the horrendous though inexplicable situation she had found herself in had driven her to extreme psychological trauma and despair, and attempted suicide. Rupal's father had balked from the truth of his daughter's humiliation in an ostrich-like evasiveness. For the fear of adverse publicity for his daughter, he had shut himself up, and forced Rupal to do the same.
A very concerned Mohnish asks: Is modern technology having such a stultifying effect on everyone's minds and rational thinking that we are losing our compassion and sensitivity towards others? What values are we instilling in our children? Are we even aware of what they are involved with via the mediums of cell phones and Internet? What impact is this having on their lives and on the lives of others? We need to review the situation with ruthless honesty. Moreover, when faced with such sleazy and unwanted situations, instead of hiding from them we need to face the brutes. It is true that Mahesh was caught up in the mystery of the case but we need to remain alert and be ready to raise our voices against any injustice so that the criminals do not get away scot-free.
Rupal decides to face the brutes, encouraged as she is by Mahesh's urging. She narrates the entire story to the police of her colleague offering to drop her home after work; the lacing of her soft drink with drugs, and then the entire nauseating act of violating her and recording it. The boys are apprehended and with the cooperation of the media and civil authorities, which Mohnish Bahl commends strongly, Ruhi's name is cleared as the entire story is brought out. The press gave the story a front-page coverage and the government was forced to take cognizance of such crimes and into making the laws pertaining to Internet and cyber crimes stronger and more rigid. New censorship was imposed in many cases. The media revelation aroused the citizens of Surat as they flooded Ruhi with messages of sincere apology, wishing her a speedy recovery. She does recover! Much to her parent's utter relief and supreme joy, Ruhi comes out of the coma.
While the story was visualized, Mohnish Bahl gave his most assertive and emphatic narrative of the deepest implications that emerge from this episode: First of all he says, we salute Mahesh for his determination to get to the bottom of the mysterious crime and ensure justice for his daughter. Not only that, he also encouraged and supported Rupal and all other girls in such dismal situations, to find the courage to raise their voices and fight any such injustice. In October 2012, Mohnish tells us, the Indian cabinet ratified the Indecent Representation of Women Prohibition Act (IRWA) of 1986 after making some improvements in it. The punishments meted out to the perpetrators of crimes under this act have been made more stringent. Anyone caught sending indecent or obscene MMS or emails are liable to three-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 50,000 to 2 lakhs. Visually and obviously disgusted but in control, emphatic and definitive, Mohnish states with immense determination – all those people who generate po*nographic material or depraved and obscene MMS or videos are no different to the perpetrators of prostitution and flesh trade. Like us he is incensed with such disgusting human behavior and intentions that ruin so many innocent lives. He cautions that we all need to be self controlled and disciplined and ensure that we explain to our children the implications and consequences of any carelessness on their behalf. Our children need to be taught to respect the dignity and lives of others and always remain aware and alert. With these strong words of caution, Mohnish wishes everyone to be safe and alert as with Savdhaan India, India Fights back!