Why an AAP candidate’s involvement in a rape story gives me hope


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By Uma Sudhir

I have not been a voter in Delhi for several years now but if I were, no secret in whose favour I would press the EVM button. For all the hope-peaked-into-disappointment Anna story, tales about how very `aam’ even the Aam Aadmi Party has turned out to be, for all the cynicism and unfortunate mud-slinging at the Aam Aadmi Party, a very big part of me that refuses to be cynical, that refuses to give up, that hopes change will come in our lives, in our government and in our politics, can’t help but give myself this chance.

 

A senior journalist friend in Delhi pointed out that the party projecting itself as the `alternative’ is promising nothing different. So what hope for change can you expect, he argued. Yet, my only rationale is the other two mainstream political parties are two different-looking faces of the very same system, and have only disappointed us time and again. If I have a third choice that I am hoping will bring not just fresh faces, but fresh hope and new ideas. At least they are not seeped in the same muck yet. On that count at least, it will be a new beginning. Surely, unless we go down the road less travelled, we won’t find out?

 

There is another reason why I write this. Because I have known, for some years now, at least one young man contesting these elections, as someone worthy of my trust and faith. This was many years before Anna Hazare sat on his fast, before he along with Arvind Kejriwal and others lit fires of hope and change. I am referring to 34-year-old Saurabh Bharadwaj who is the AAP candidate from Greater Kailash constituency in Delhi. I met him in 2005, shortly after I had filed a series of reports for NDTV on a family fighting for justice after an 8-year-old child was sexually assaulted and raped by a relative. 

 

The story: the father was a visually challenged bhajan singer, who travelled around the country, along with his wife, to earn his living. The couple had left two of their children, at the father’s sister’s place in Yavatmal, Maharashtra, so they could go to a regular school. The sister’s brother-in-law had access to the child and sexually assaulted her, while sending away her brother to run errands. The children came home for their summer holidays and that is when the mother noticed that all was not well with her daughter. The child was withdrawn, would not jump around and play like she used to and even walked a little awkwardly and complained of discomfort. They were shocked and shattered and went to the police station but the police would not even file an FIR. That’s when they walked into my office and I accompanied them to the police station to file the FIR and arranged for counsellors to meet the child and family.

 

But the challenges in their fight for justice had only just begun. They faced hostility from extended family, ostracism and ridicule from immediate social circle, delays and bureaucratic red tape. The case was first transferred to Yavatmal, from Hyderabad, because the crime was committed there. From medical examination reports to court appearances to handling insensitive men in khaki to disinterested men in black robes.

 

saurabh2

That is where Saurabh came in. He was a 26-year-old, working as a software engineer in Hyderabad and had come across the report on NDTV. Some viewers, touched by stories often do write in, express support and may even send some financial help to someone in need. I often feel reassured by the empathy, sensitivity and involvement of people. That they can feel the pain of others in dire straits and have a generous heart to come forward and offer help, with no expectation of any recognition for a good deed.

 

But Saurabh went beyond that. He gave his time and very soon got actively involved in the family’s fight for justice. Not for days, or weeks, or months, but for years. He accompanied the visually challenged father to hospitals, police stations and court rooms, to chase documents, file RTI, get legal counsel. He even got the father to file a case in the State Human Rights Commission. If the father was resolute in not wanting to “compromise” and accept a monetary compensation for the wrong his daughter suffered, despite all the frustrations he faced, I believe at least some credit for that would go to Saurabh.

 

The good news was that nearly five years later, the accused was found guilty by the sessions court. It was a victory for justice and for Saurabh’s efforts and of course, the family’s steadfast and determined fight for justice. The accused challenged it in the High Court and sadly, it was overturned. With Saurabh’s help, the case is now in the Supreme Court.

 

I was following up on this 8-year fight for justice of a rape victim again after the Nirbhaya incident. That is when I again met Saurabh. He informed me that the reason the High Court had rejected the sessions court verdict was because of lapses in investigation and collection of evidence. Something as basic as medical examination report not being presented as evidence. No accountability of investigating officials and so on. In trying to help people like this family, he had assiduously learnt the technicalities of the law and its workings and failings and spoke passionately about the changes needed to help rape victims get justice.

 

I am sure as a young man, pursuing a busy career, travelling within the country and abroad, he could have chosen to do other things, perhaps more fun and entertaining, but he chose to use his valuable time to fight the battle standing along with the family.  That commitment, resolute faith in the fight for justice, to me is a test of persistence and character. Because it shows to me a commitment to live and fight for values and integrity, within the system.

 

That is the reason for my wanting to repose faith in this young man, who is the AAP candidate for GK in these elections in Delhi.

 

(Uma Sudhir’s Twitter handle is @umasudhir)

 

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About t s sudhir & uma sudhir

Uma Sudhir and T S Sudhir are senior journalists, based in Hyderabad. Both work for NDTV. Uma is a Tamilian, who was educated in
This entry was posted in Human interest blogs, Political blogs and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Why an AAP candidate’s involvement in a rape story gives me hope

  1. Amol says:

    Gr8 act of spirit and persistence by Saurabh. Hope he wins.

  2. Alok says:

    I don’t know how good or bad the AAP is or about its leadership. What I do know is that one person does not make a party.

    Going by this logic, the Congress rule in the past 8 years would have been heaven under Mr. Maun-Mohan shameless sing.

    • Deshbandhu says:

      If u don’t know about AAP or its leadership, then you should attempt to know about it. Now-a-days, everything is only a few clicks away. Agree… one person doesn’t make a party. But… AK = AAP. There are many more leaders in AAP. Once u start exploring AAP, u’ll come to know what AAP is. Thanks!!!

    • Shailendra says:

      Alok,
      The blog is about a person, who had an on-going engagement with a child molestation case and stayed with the it since several years. I am sure you can appreciate his efforts and his entry into political arena. As far as “one man party…”, actually a person like Saurabh proves that AAP is not a one person party.

  3. Ashok says:

    we’re proud of you Saurabh ..the change is about to come.

  4. Udayan says:

    Wow! That’s a story that needs to be told aloud.
    AAP is the only option!!

  5. venki says:

    Salute to mr. Saurabh….I will do all that i can to ensure his victory

  6. Prakhar Goel says:

    I met Saurabh Bharadwaj while doing Play4change in GK last month. He sponsored a chai and samosa party for us after the play. This is when we interacted with him! I found him extremely dedicated, simple and down to earth. His statement in the raw footage of his sting operation overwhelmed me with his honesty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y44iuBxQmPk

  7. TAPAN GANDHI says:

    Great Article. Saurabh will definitely win the election. God is with him…

  8. Shobha says:

    One positive ray of hope. Thanks for the blog Uma. We need more such example so those who want to help learn how to help.

  9. Ashok Bhatia says:

    I met this gentleman Saurabh in a small election meeting in a park next to my home in GK-2. I saw some posters hung (not pasted) around the park where lots of walkers come every morning. Having noticed that the meeting was to take place next day, a Sunday I reached there in time for the meeting.

    There was no hustle bustle, no sign of a meeting anywhere I started asking other walkers who chose to show their ignorance. The posters were also missing. Then someone told me that a “capped man” is sitting in the central part of the park where some benches are located.

    By the time I reached there I saw a group of oldies (mostly Chawri Bazar shopkeepers, known BJP supporters) shouting indignities on a calm Saurabh accusing him for talking ill about BJP. There were some soft spoken guys and women who were trying to broker peace but the old guys were bent upon a hostile assault to a completely unnerved Saurabh. Then I requested some of them to either sit and listen to a person even if they disagreed with his views, or leave.

    By the time they finally left only about 12 persons were left who needed no campaigning as they all were convinced AAP supporters. I can vouch for a fact that Saurabh is a gentleman who cannot be provoked easily, a trait very essential to grow into a statesman. Certainly there is a strong undercurrent of discontent against Cong and BJP, and a lot of people are willing to support AAP for the sake of change. How it is going to translate into seats will be known only after the elections.

  10. Kusum M Sharma says:

    God bless u saurabh, will definitely win. In call compaign, getting ultimate response. Umaji yr blog inspired us lot, hoping the same in future.

  11. Urban Indian says:

    This is exactly why I am wary of AAP. Politics is not only about helping one blind man, but about making choices that help sideline a hundred men for a the betterment of a thousand people. Making, these choices and winning both parties over is what politics should be about.

    Saurabh Bhardwaj would be a perfect fit in any NGO in the country. But as a leader of men, we need people who aren’t just sincere, but also visionary.

    • Rao says:

      Oh…Vision is nothing without action ! We have enough visionaries in our country…all those big netas are visionaries – Promise removing poverty – then issue below poverty line benefit cards. Say we all are one – then create politics of religion. We need people like Saurabh. And more than anything else, I want to give AAP a chance because we have had enough of Congress and BJP. IF they don’t perform, then they perish. Simple. No harm in giving them a chance.

  12. Hemen Parekh says:

    Hell – holes of Delhi

    A poet has said about Kashmir :

    “ If there is heaven on earth anywhere ,
    It is here ; It is here “

    Having watched the horrible living conditions of Delhi slums ( on TV channels ) over the past few weeks , if I have to describe these , I would say :

    “ If there is hell on earth anywhere ,
    It is here ; It is here “

    A TV anchor asks a slum-dweller ,

    “ Why do you live , right on top of a stinking sewer ? “

    She replies ,

    “ Because we have no other option. We have been living like this for past 30 years . May be we will continue to live like this till we die

    Once every 5 years , local MLA visits us , telling us
    about all the glorious achievements of Delhi, viz:

     Bright-lit Stadiums / Malls / 5 star Hotels

     Dozens of fly-overs

     Swanky cars on Rajpath

     Highways and Expressways

     High-rise office complexes

     Imposing Government offices in red stone…etc

    Then he says ,

    “ If you elect me , I promise ,

     Covered gutters / drains

     More and better community toilets

     Debris – free and wide lanes

     Daily garbage collection

     Clean / piped drinking water to every hut

     Cheap electricity

     Nearby school with teachers

     Instant admission to modern hospital

     A permanent job for everyone….etc “

    But once elected , he disappears

    Only to re-appear after 5 years with same promises ! “

    Then the TV anchor asks ,

    “ So , which party will you vote for on 4th Dec ? “

    Lady answers ,

    “ This time , we will vote for Aam Aadmi Party ( AAP ) “

    Anchor :

    “ Why ? “

    Lady :

    “ Things cannot get any worse !

    We must give AAP, a chance to live up to their promises

    We believe they will “

    * hemen Parekh ( 02 Dec 2013 )

  13. Vasundhara Vats says:

    This great. I also personally have know another candidate- Vishesh Ravi contesting from Karol Bagh through AAP. His commitment and patience is simply commendable not just because I know him, but because of the work he has been doing since more than a decade for the underprivileged. I wish more and more people like him enter politics!!

  14. Ashish says:

    Dear Uma,
    Thanks for bringing forward such a wonderful story of some real selfless social work.
    Fabulous effort on Saurabh s behalf, really to do something with such integrity sure takes more than just political ambitions.
    I ve already shared the story on fb lets hope more people become aware of his good deeds.
    Just one input wish you could’ve written the subject of the essay differently as it can sound misleading and with many impatient readers they can interpret it absolutely the otherway round.
    Thanks & Regards
    Ashish
    look@ashishchawla.com

  15. Hi Uma, thanks for sharing this wonderful story. What I would suggest is to change the title of the story to say something like “Why an Aap candidates support in fight for justice for a rape victim” as the current one with the word “involvement” sounds like the App candidate is the accused. This is what dragged me to this article as I felt is it another mud slinging effort by someone on AAP party. Luckily not and the title change will certainly help.

  16. T.Mohan Reddy says:

    Now, it is time to identify people like Saurab in political field and support is the best alternate for better politics….

  17. Prem Garg says:

    AAP gives me hope of revival of Lal Bahadur Shastri era

  18. Abhimanyu says:

    Inspiring story but somewhat misleading title. Would it be possible to change it?

  19. Yes. Saurabh is just the kind of person, who fills us with hope and certainly if such a person stands from my constituency, he has my vote. But there is just one thing I fail to understand and I find this common among most of the elite. How can u justify tarring the Congress and the BJP with the same brush? The Congress has ruled for 55 of the 65 years and has been mired in corruption, devalued institutions and followed disastrous economic policies. The BJP during a six-year stint at the Centre gave us good governance, furtherance of liberalistation, built infrastructure, rarely misused power or did anything to violate sanctity of democratic institutions. Is all that offset by Bangaru Lakshman accepting a party contribution of Rs.1 lac repeat Rs.1 lac in a sting operation? OR by Gujarat 2002 – the only riots in India in which guilty have been punished? Contrast with innumerable riots on Congress watch – Gujarat 1969 & 1985, Jalgaon/Bhiwandi 1972, Nellie 1983, DELHI 1984 (NOT A RIOT BUT A POGROM) Bhagalpur 1989, Mumbai 1992-93, Assam & UP 2013. And what about BJP performance in states – MP, C’garh, Gujarat contrasted with Congress ruled states? In all coalitions such as Janata Party 1977-79 and Janata Dal 1989-90, Jana Sangh/BJP proved the most dependable ally. Contrast that with what Congress did to Charan Singh and Chandrashekar! Please be fair in your appraisal. This is how the Congress very often gets voted to power.

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