Rajasthan made the headlines on Saturday for a horrific reason. A 55-year-old man was beaten to death by some municipal employees after he objected to them clicking photographs of some women defecating in the open. A police complaint was lodged in Pratapgarh Station House under Section 302 of the IPC against three civic staff members also the local civic chief Ashok Jain.
The incident happened on Friday, June 16, in the state's Pratapgarh district where the civic officials were working on the Swachh Bharat campaign. The victim, Zaffar Hussein, was an activist who succumbed to the injuries inflicted on him by the blows of sticks.
No toilets indoors, predators outdoors: Our women are at mercy
The incident brings to the fore again the situation on women's safety in this country. On one hand, we are yet to imbibe the social significance of toilets at home and on the other, even government officials are not hesitant to make mockery of women's honour, let alone the criminal minds.
The incident also happened just a few days after the release of the trailer of Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar's much-awaited film Toilet Ek Prem Katha (TEPK) due to be released in August. The trailer showed how toilet remains a social curse in the mind of the patriarchal Indians even if it means pushing the family's women towards disrespect.
Attack on women when they are forced to respond to the Nature's Call because in the wee hours because there is no toilet at home is a common menace in India's rural lives and things are yet to improve considerably despite mainstream Bollywood actors have chipped in to create awareness, through endorsements or even by means of making films.
Akshay Kumar has an opportunity to give a powerful message
Now, shouldn't Akshay Kumar come forward and stand by the side of Hussein, who was beaten to death because he wanted to shield women's respect? Given Kumar's habit of extending friendly hands towards those in need, is the expectation too much? It would make all the more sense for a film of his about the same issue is set to hit the screens soon.
If Kumar stands up to the occasion by comforting the bereaved family of the unfortunate soul, it would add an entirely new dimension to the problem which is continuing over the ages. The law and police will do their work as usual but to make that real difference in the mind of the common man, the presence of the superstar is very much necessary.
The Bollywood Khiladi extended help to the families of CRPF jawans who were killed in a Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh a few months ago. Here is another moment. Kumar, who has been lauded by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his contribution towards the latter's pet Swachh Bharat Abhiyan through TEPK, also needs to show the government officials that they can make the PM's dream a reality by doing something substantial and not by targeting women's honour.
This is an opportunity to make an impact. Let's not squander it.