It was past 1 am. I was rushing back in my car from Hissar to my home in Rohini. I had gone there to strike a business deal. The party insisted that I have my dinner with him and I could not refuse him after the lucrative deal. But I took care not to have any drink as I had a long distance to drive. Except for the occasional cars the road was clear. It was February end and the air was cold. There was a slight smog that restrained my speed. But I was in a happy frame of mind and played Sonu Nigam as I drove carefully.
As I was cruising along, the car gave some trouble after it had crossed Rohtak and ground to a halt abruptly. As I opened the bonnet, the edge slightly scratched my elbow but the blood stopped immediately. I checked the electrical connections inside the car and found everything fine. The fuel was more than half the tank. I switched off the car, waited for it to cool down. I lit a cigarette and was lost in thought how blessed I was. I was just 27 but my business had already picked up. I was making good money though it entailed a lot of travel. I was a commission agent who knew the art of bringing together the needy buyers and eager sellers to make my living. I was earning a lot for my age despite my lack of professional education. My mom felt it was time for me to settle down and give her a grandchild to pamper and play with. She had chosen an attractive young woman for me and talks were on to finalize the wedding.
Luckily to my great relief after about 30 minutes the car started. I had lost more nearly an hour. I soon crossed Bahadurgarh and the Tikri border of Delhi. I found from distance a figure lying on the road. I slowed down the car to find a young woman covered with bruises and blood sprawled on the floor. When I got down and went near her to see whether she needed any medical assistance, I found her stark naked without a shred of cloth on her to cover. She must be less than 30 and appeared to be a victim of sexual molestation. The rapist (or the vile gang) having done the evil act must have killed her and dumped the body on the road. I placed my fingers under her nostrils. There was no evidence of life. I felt her forehead to find her cold. The sight of blood and the gaping wound across her chest made me feel like throwing up. I quickly walked away to my car.
Just before I started the car, the thought of naked body lying in open assailed my mind. What an indignity to the unknown young woman. I opened the door, went near her and without a second thought took out my blue denim jacket and covered her nudity. The chill wind was biting and I rushed back to the car.
I could see the next day the furor the abduction and rape as I suspected had caused and the repeated visuals in the TV only added to the sense of insecurity for women in the capital. There was a hue and outcry to capture the guilty and punish. People were aghast at the impunity with which such ghastly crime took place immediately after the Gurgaon rape. Police were under intense pressure to nab the culprits.
Two days later I was just relaxing after dinner watching Sasural genda phool in the TV when there was a knock at the door. There was a jeep outside with three policemen. Residents from the adjacent apartments peeped through windows or gathered near the vehicle. The blue jacket on the dead body and a bill left inadvertently in it led the trail towards me. I was taken to the police station and asked about the jacket. I narrated the fact as it had happened and admitted the jacket was mine.
There was a persistent but polite questioning. We went to Hissar to corroborate my statement of visit there on business. The business associate confirmed and told them the time I left. What I could not satisfactorily explain was about the one hour gap.. My plea that the car broke down did not cut much ice. The scratch on my elbow only accentuated my vulnerable position. To make matters worse the woman hailed from Rohini.. Police were under compulsion to show quick results. The media were invited as I was led to the police station. The TVs blared with the visuals of the blue jacket, the unaccounted one hour and the scratch on the elbow. There was a spate of praises at the alacrity shown by police in nabbing the culprit so soon after the gruesome incident. One paper screamed for castration of all rapists while another pleaded for summary capital punishment with no mercy pleas..
All my denials were met with stony silence by authorities.My parents were devastated not because the bride’s party withdrew but the evidence the police were mounting were strong against me. The well known lawyer whom they fixed assured he would do his best but confessed the mood of all segments of society was unforgiving towards crime against women. Is protecting a woman’s honour by draping her with one’s own shirt a crime?
I am keeping my fingers crossed as the world around me has crashed and turned hostile..