I will start with a confession that this article has been written in rage. It might constitute a rant. Twitter is my preferred platform of social media, so when I logged in today, the top Indian trending topic is #ParentsWorshipDayOn14Feb. Those who are not familiar with the microblogging website, a Trending Topic is generally the most talked about subject in a particular area/city/country.
Now, I had observed banners and billboards last year in New Delhi, was cornered by some people who shared this belief at the International Book Fair, but my reaction was that of amusement. So why am I incensed this year? Basically, it is an effort by Asaram “Bapu”, who possibly views Valentine’s Day as an “immoral”, “sinful” day to indulge in lust. I have my problems with the day but I really don’t care what others get on with on this day. As if 14th February is the only day one can let the passions out (euphemism alert).
Asaram Bapu has been in news for the sexual assault of a minor girl. On August 20, 2013, a 16 year old accused Asaram Bapu of sexual assault at his ashram in guise of exorcising “evil spirit” out of her. He was subsequently arrested by the Jodhpur police and charges have been framed against him under sections 342 (for wrongful confinement), 354A (sexual harassment), 370(4) (trafficking), 376(2)F (rape on a woman when she is under twelve years of age), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509/34 and 120 (B) (Criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code. He has already been denied bail twice. His son, Narayan Sai has disclosed that he has raped a woman. The icing on the cake is that Surat police has charge-sheeted him in a bribery case. The apparent bribe was to weaken the rape case against him. He has assets worth 5,000 crores while his father stands at 10,000 crores.
This very man is the spear head of this Parent’s Day on Valentine’s Day. I am not against loving and respecting one’s parents, don’t get me wrong but need I point out that we have exclusive and popular days to thank them? And if one wants a Parent’s Day, why only on Feb 14? There are 364 days to choose from. But it is not so much about respecting and loving parents but about curbing the “menace” of young people expressing their love for their significant others outside wedlock. It is an attack on a person’s sexuality and individuality and that it what troubles me. Some of the enlightening tweets from Asaram’s followers have been mentioned below:
India has gained a notorious reputation of being a regressive and unsafe country for women. Foreign nations are advising their citizens especially women against travelling to India. We were the witnesses to a gruesome rape in December, 2012. Remember how bloodthirsty our nation was for those six perpetrators of the rape? We took to the streets to protest against the injustice, demanded death penalty for them, and showed no mercy. So why these double standards are bring exhibited in this self-styled god man’s case? Why am I seeing this overwhelming support for this person? The accuser is a minor girl, are we forgetting her age? If the charges are proven, he would have taken advantage of a child. Children need to be protected, not assaulted. Wake up India, you have been hitting the snooze of hypocrisy for a long time now.