ACCUSED: The principal of St John Paul School in Quepem, a priest, has been accused of molesting a minor child!
A passionate appeal to Narendra Modi to save the girl child who is the target of abuse, molestation and neglect in the country despite the beti bachao campaign
By Ali Peter John
You keep talking about beti padaao, beti bachaao. Do you know what you are saying? Have you seen the conditions under which our betis (daughters) are living. Have you seen the way their childhood is being wasted at a time when it has to be taken good care of? Don’t you and your enthusiastic followers know that there are thousands of unfortunate girl children who are walking the streets of Mumbai and other cities from early morning till late in the night, knocking at the windscreens of every car and tugging at the clothes of everyone passing by, begging for a few coins and the more smart ones demanding a rupee or more because they say the prices of food, especially dal and tomatoes, which is their only luxury, have gone up? Have you or your many loud-mouthed leaders even tried to have a walk in places like Yari Road and hundreds of roads in Mumbai and other cities of the country?
Let me plead of you to go after this curse of little girls begging a little more seriously and tackle it on a war footing. All your other policies to build a mahaan India can wait, but shouldn’t looking after and protecting these little girls be your and your government’s first priority?ou keep talking about beti padaao, beti bachaao. Do you know what you are saying? Have you seen the conditions under which our betis (daughters) are living. Have you seen the way their childhood is being wasted at a time when it has to be taken good care of? Don’t you and your enthusiastic followers know that there are thousands of unfortunate girl children who are walking the streets of Mumbai and other cities from early morning till late in the night, knocking at the windscreens of every car and tugging at the clothes of everyone passing by, begging for a few coins and the more smart ones demanding a rupee or more because they say the prices of food, especially dal and tomatoes, which is their only luxury, have gone up? Have you or your many loud-mouthed leaders even tried to have a walk in places like Yari Road and hundreds of roads in Mumbai and other cities of the country?
Let me give you a scene I saw this morning at 7.30 am. As I was passing by a posh school called Children’s Welfare Centre, I saw rich parents come in posh cars to drop their children to school and bid them good bye, other children brought by servants or travelling by rickety school buses, and many girls walking down with heavy bags on their tiny shoulders.
On the other side there is a Vidya Mandir where there are similar scenes, although the class of parents and teachers are on the other side of life…
Bang opposite these schools is a crowd of very small girls who are not even interested in looking at the schools. They are only moving from one harassed man or woman to another. All they want and beg for is something that will keep their little lives going for that one day.
They refuse to accept anything to eat, all they want is money and they don’t make any compromises on this serious issue in their lives.
I try talking to one of the girls who if given a good bath and given good clothes to wear could look better than all the privileged betis and I ask her if she has had anything to eat since morning and she stares into my eyes and in an almost angry tone says, “paisa lekar jaaogi toh khaana milega, nahi toh khaana kya paani bhi nahi milega, hum jaise bachcho ki kaun parvaah karte hai, hum toh bheekh maangne ke liye paida huye hai aur bheekh maangte maangte hi mar jaayenge”. Her reaction sent me into a shock and took away my appetite for breakfast or even a cup of tea. It took me hours to recover as that hungry girl’s face kept haunting me.
Who were those people to whom she had to take the money she begged for? Were they her parents or was she a victim of a racket that makes children and the old and disabled beg the whole day and then report with their “earnings” which are snatched away by the men and women who run these ruthless rackets? And who will make sure that they even get one square meal for all their day-long humiliating efforts?
I know Mr. Modi, you are a very busy man, you have to take care of the whole country and besides you have to run-down and vehemently criticize all your rivals and critics and over and above all you have to pack your bags with your best suits and colourful handkerchiefs and leave for one more of your many trips abroad to know how other countries are functioning and how other governments are run and you are such a large-hearted leader of mahaan India that you don’t even think twice whether we are capable of donating huge sums of money to other countries while our betis are busy begging for a few rupees to save themselves from all kinds of torture and living deaths? When, oh when, will you set your eyes seriously on these betis of India who you yourself have spread your hands towards the sky (or is it God) and said that a nation can progress only if its daughters (betis) progress? Now? Later? Or when these betis of today have grown up and are faced with a bleak future?
These betis of Bharat maa are not only slogging it out and sweating it out as beggars in the streets. Open your eyes and you will find them going through the daily dredges of making a life some way or the other — for themselves, for their family and siblings, or sometimes for those ugly faced men and women who have turned them into objects for hire or sale.
Mr Modi, have you heard of mothers giving away their new born babies to professional beggars to be used as props in their
daily ‘shows’? The beggars put these babies to sleep after pouring a few drops of cheap alcohol (or some of the latest or oldest drugs) down their throats, which keep the babies sleeping all day and even all night, and then beg ostensibly for enough money to buy milk or medicines for the ailing babies in their arms.
Often these kinds of beggars are women who are mothers themselves, whose own children are waiting for their mothers to feed them. Their mothers know that they can only make enough money to keep their own children alive by using other babies to earn a living.
No, Mr Modi, this is not a scene from Guru Dutt’s “Pyaasa” or some imagery or symbol taken from one of the darker poems of Sahir Ludhianvi. They are real life flesh and blood stories of life as it has been reduced today during the last three years of your rule. There were scenes like these even before, but they have increased by painful leaps and bounds ever since you have taken over and have made tall promises of bringing in the acche din for every Indian and especially every woman and her daughter and the daughter of millions of starving and struggling mothers.
These kinds of desperate scenes are often dismissed as the figments of the imagination of some leftist, communist or progressive poet. They are not figments of a poet’s imagination, Mr Modi. They are the bitter truths of life which leaders like you can very well see when you are not in power and go around from door to door begging for votes, but very easily forget the moment you come to power and are seated in ornate chairs, living in palatial bungalows, travelling in cars with tinted glasses followed by an army of bodyguards who look as if they have just descended from the pits of hell to defend and protect holy and saintly leaders like you who are more worried about the cow and whether people eat beef or anything better or worse to stay alive in today’s India whose destiny lies in your hands and in the hands of all those who are blessed by your holy hands.
Haven’t you seen little girls working as domestic help in the homes of middle class people because they can be paid half or less than the salary a full-time and grown-up domestic help demands these days? Haven’t you seen little girls sitting on the streets with women trying to give them some kind of an education? Haven’t you seen little girls, who should have had flowers in their hair, selling stale flowers at different street corners? Haven’t you seen labourers working on construction sites leave their new-born babies in self-made cradles of pieces of women’s sarees, where the babies keep howling and screaming for their feed with no one to care for them, and where callous men pass remarks like, “Sambhaal nahi sakte, toh in betiyon ko paida hi kyu karte haai ye log?” Have you dared to peep into the dark windows where dark deeds are committed by hopeless women in order to make a living for themselves and for their betis who they put to sleep on the ground in the corner of a shady room?
I know all these scenes will sound very shocking and distressing for a sensitive and soft-hearted man like you, but who else should these questions be put to than a great leader like you who came to power with so much hope for the aam aadmi of India in 2014 and in whom the people of India have already started losing hope and trust?
You still have a chance to save these betis of India and you will have to save them if you have to prove yourself a true and worthy son of Mother India. If not you will face the consequences, which will be worse than just losing your power and your unique ability of talking through the thumping of your fifty-six inch chest.
The choice is yours, Mr Modi, I am not against you. I am not interested in all your games of politics. I am also not interested in those who are not interested in you. I am only interested in the betis of India and I will keep screaming for justice to be done to them whether it is you or someone better or worse than you.
Let me end by telling you what 10-year-old Jamuna told me this morning, she who was all alone after she had just woken up from her sleep on the footpath where rich men and women go to have their protein and vitamin shakes. When I asked her where she would go next, she rubbed her eyes and said, “Humara toh koi nahi hai, abhi niklungi aur saara din dhoondti rahungi aise kissi insan se jo hum jaise ladkiyon ko bacha sakte hai. Main toh har din ek nayi asha lekar jagti hu lekin raat hone tak vo asha ek baar fir mar jaati haai, lekin main himmat nahi harnewali hoon. Meri maa ne mujhse kaha tha ki ab Modiji aa gaye hai, ab hum jaise logon ko fikar karne ki koi baat nahi hai. Main ek din uss Modiji ko milkar rahungi. Agar bhagwan ne chaha toh wo mujhe yuhi mil jaenge, nahi toh main himmat haarnese pehle unko ek baar zarur milungi, ye faisla maine do saal pehle apne aap se kiya tha”.
Did you hear Jamuna speaking, Mr. Modi?