Amritsar Temple Rape: Why Hasn’t Mainstream Media Covered the Assault on Two Women?

Social Commentary

Amritsar Temple Rape: Why Hasn’t Mainstream Media Covered the Assault on Two Women?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

As the world deals with the coronavirus crisis, a chilling incident has come to light from Amritsar where Punjab police has arrested the head priest and another priest of the Ram Tirath Temple for holding two women captive and raping them repeatedly.

Girdhari Nath and Varinder Nath have been arrested, while two others who were accused managed to escape and the police are on the lookout for them. The victims, aged 25 years and 40 years respectively, were raped by the four accused.

One of the victims, who is 25 years of age, had gone to the Gyan Nath Ashram to seek blessings from the priests when she was allegedly taken captive, her phone was stolen and she was raped by the priests. The victims had gone to the head priest to complain about the disciples but instead of addressing the complaint, Girdhari Nath and Varinder Nath also raped the victims.

One of the victims managed to grab hold of a mobile phone and informed her family. Acting on the complaint by a member of the Punjab Commission for Scheduled Castes Tarsem Singh Sayalka, the Amritsar Police SSP Vikramjeet Singh Duggal dispatched a team to raid the temple complex and freed the victims. Police said that the two arrested priests have been booked under sections 376, 379, 506 of the IPC.

“We raided the complex on the basis of a complaint filed by Tarsem Singh Sayalka and have arrested two accused. Those who are on the run will be arrested soon as police teams are raiding their possible hideouts,” said Guru Pratap Singh, the DSP of Atari.

The story was received with shock and anger on social media, with a user pointing out that women aren’t safe even in the temples where they’ve gone to seek blessings.

“Where is God when we really need him?” another one asked.

Salman Nizami of the Congress party said, “It is important to address these issues & bring the people responsible to justice. We must stand united as society against such barbaric crimes!”

Social media users have asked for the harshest punishment, for a sin at a place of worship deserves no less.

Some also pointed to the muted response from the mainstream media, and why it had not highlighted this issue and reported it.

We will eventually find a cure for coronavirus soon but to rid ourselves from all these monsters in society is going to be a long battle, especially when the perpetrators like priests hold positions of power and also sympathies within the broader society and among those in government, as has been seen in multiple cases. One can only hope no one will rally in support of these criminals, nor will they be garlanded at an event soon, but will be dished the harshest punishment swiftly.