The Manhandling & Detention of Rahul Gandhi Has Only Fuelled Anger. Will We See Bigger Protests?

Social Commentary

The Manhandling & Detention of Rahul Gandhi Has Only Fuelled Anger. Will We See Bigger Protests?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

The Hathras and Balrampur gang-rapes have shocked India. As more details emerge over the investigations carried out by the Uttar Pradesh administration, a number of protests were held in cities across the country to highlight the horrific plight of women in India. Among those protestors were opposition leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who along with a convoy, had made their way towards Hathras on Thursday to meet the family of the Dalit woman, who lost her life earlier this week.

However, this act didn’t go down too well for the Uttar Pradesh administration, as the Gandhi scions were stopped by the police in Greater Noida. The two Congress leaders were detained, while Rahul Gandhi says he was aggressively shoved to the ground by an official, and even lathi-charged by police personnel.

In a video circulating on social media, Gandhi is heard asking the police on what grounds he was being arrested. An officer replies that he was being charged under Section 188, a law on defying official orders. The police also argued that large gatherings were banned in the area, citing the coronavirus pandemic, but many, including the Congress party, have claimed it was actually a move to stifle dissent.

The two Gandhis were later released and escorted back to Delhi, but the video showing Gandhi scuffling with the policeman has outraged the public, who couldn’t believe that an opposition leader was being denied the right to protest such a horrific crime.

While rapes have unfortunately always been a common crime in the country, what makes this case even more shameful is that the woman’s family has alleged that their complaint initially wasn’t taken seriously because they were Dalit. The police later cremated the victim’s body and her family was kept away. Now a senior police official has denied the rape.

The grave injustice has drawn immense public anger, with protestors across the country calling for the resignation of UP CM Yogi Adityanath. Many were also detained in Delhi during a demonstration, only compounding the anger.

Now after two members of the country’s main opposition party were detained for exercising their rights, it seems as though the move may trigger a wave of protests

across the country. The Congress party has already called for its members to lead these demonstrations. We saw hundreds and thousands of people take to the streets to demand justice for Nirbhaya in 2012. Eight years later, sadly, the country finds itself at a similar juncture.