A 25-year-old man in Jammu & Kashmir accused of rape allegedly committed suicide after being asked to choose one of two options to repent: drink the urine of the girl he's supposed to have raped or pay money to her family in damages.
The incident took place in Rajouri district of Jammu & Kashmir, according to a report in The Indian Express, where a panchayat gave this verdict to Fazal Husain, leading him to drown himself in a lake. However, before he took his life, he recorded a testimony on video from a phone-camera held by his nephew.
Husain, who was a graduate and married, is believed to have blamed the wild justice dispensed by the elders for his death. He also denied raping the girl, who, he said, was like a sister to him. He had also asked that due process be followed in establishing her allegation.
"Whether this charge is true or false, it was decided by a court inside four walls of a house," he is heard as saying, explaining that the only evidence against him in the case was a conversation he was forced to have on record under threat. His demand that the girl go through medical examination to ascertain her charges was denied. His appeal to the local imam to intervene in the matter didn't work either.
While it is too late to investigate whether Husain actually did commit the crime, the treatment meted out to him is still inexcusable. India has a staggering problem of rape and sexual violence but taking the quick route of dispensing penalties by informal kangaroo courts or, worse still, by a lynch mob isn't going to help fix it any better.
Admittedly, there are judicial delays and a hundred other glitches in the system, but the law still cannot be bypassed, nor due process be ignored, in favour of a quick-fix through inhuman, often violent, means.
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