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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Facebook, Rumi, Jackie and a mob from Karimganj

It was around 11.45 pm on last Friday, 29th July 2012. I was about to log off from Facebook and shutdown my laptop, when something caught my eyes. That something was a status message from one of my friends. It gave me the news that Rumi Nath aka Reshma Sultana, along with her second husband Jackie, (although, from a legal point of view, they are in a live in relationship at best) had been brutally beaten up at a hotel in Karimganj, the headquarter of the eponymous district in Southern Assam, by a mob of around 200 men. The reason? Rumi Nath, who is an MLA from the Barkhola constituency of Assam, had eloped with a Muslim man, Jakir aka Jackie, thereby leaving her husband Rakesh Singh and a two year old daughter from her first marriage with Singh.
news on rumi nath mla assam second husband jackie jakir
Frankly speaking, this lynching mob type of the so called "delivery of justice", which has been on the rise in India in recent years, only goes on to show that a section of the people have totally lost their faiths on the nation - its legislature, executive and judiciary. This kind of "jungle raaj" cannot be, and should not be condoned under any circumstances. A heinous crime is exactly that, a heinous crime only, even if the victims themselves are criminals and the perpetrators commit the crime in the guise of cleansing the society. Period.
news on rumi nath mla assam second husband jackie jakir
Why am I even writing all these, and that too after 2 days? Because, there have been a clear division among the general population - those who support it and those who vehemently oppose it. Seeing this divide, I thought about writing on the whole issue, with flashbacks to Rumi's student days in Bangalore, her family background and a heads up on the current situation.
news on rumi nath beaten by a mob at a karimganj hotel
Rumi, the daughter of a rich businessman from Silchar, who incidentally has two wives too, went to Bangalore and completed her Bachelors in Medicine from there. While she was studying, love blossomed between her and another student of the same college, Rakesh Singh, who - people tell me - is from Uttar Pradesh. In due course, both got married and had a daughter too. In between, Rumi entered politics and was elected on a BJP ticket, to the state legislature of Assam. Some time down the line, there was a possibility that the ruling Congress government under Tarun Gogoi might lose its majority in the house. To counter this, it is alleged that a very influential Congress minister bought out some MLAs from BJP and Rumi was one of them. What is beyond any doubts is that she switched her allegiance, voted for the Gogoi government and joined the Indian National Congress. In the next assembly elections, she contested on a Congress ticket from the same constituency and won again.
news on rumi nath maariage jackie jakir converts to islam
Everything was going on pretty smoothly, till she opened a Facebook account! She met Jakir alias Jackie in FB and became friends. The relationship surely went beyond simple friendship, as is evident from her pregnancy, which is in an advanced stage of 5 months. What really irritated people were the flip-flops by Rumi. When Samayik Prasanga, a daily newspaper from Silchar, first published the news of Rumi's purported marriage with Jackie, she vehemently denied that. After more such denials, suddenly she vanished without a trace and then resurfaced, Jackie in tow, at Guwahati. Subsequently, she admitted to converting to Islam and marrying Jackie. She took on the name, Reshma Sultana. It has been alleged that a few political leaders from the minority community were responsible for arranging the conversion and marriage. Elsewhere, her first husband Rakesh Singh, who is legally her husband till now, had slapped adultery charges on the duo. Rumi countered this by her own illogical logic, that because she has converted to Islam, Hindu Marriage Acts won't be applicable to her. She is either an ignorant fool or perhaps, trying to play a communal card to satisfy her libido. Because the honorable Supreme Court of India had already declared that any religious conversion that is done with the objective of entering in to a bigamous/polygamous relationship, would automatically stand null and void. The same set of leaders, who had arranged the marriage, are being alleged to be playing protector to the duo. It is further alleged that they are using their political clout to ensure that Jackie is not arrested.
news on rumi nath mla assam second husband jackie jakir
That's about everything that have happened in the background. Fast forward to Karimganj, Friday, 29 June 2012.
news on rumi nath converts islam reshma sultana jakir mob fury
During the day, both had visited Rumi's constituency, Barkhola. There also, a section of the populace protested against her. At least one lady had confronted Rumi too. From Barkhola, they went to Karimganj in the evening and checked in to Hotel Nakshatra. At around 10 pm, a mob of around 200 persons attacked the hotel, broke the doors and beat up Rumi and Jackie.

What puzzles me is the fact that the cameramen from at least two TV channels could reach the hotel and were able to capture the rampage, but the police took more time to reach there. A timely police action could have prevented this from happening. Next day's newspaper carried a story that one of the Superintendents of Police had advised Rumi against visiting Barak Valley, as the police feared for the safety and security of Rumi and Jakir. That means, police were in the know of things that something similar could happen, yet they did precious little to prevent the attack. It is also speculated that Rumi's personal security guards had also been removed prior to the attack.
news on rumi nath mla assam second husband jackie jakir
I agree that Rumi's behaviour, over the years, has not been exactly exemplary, but some of that blame should also be shared by her family. It is an open secret that her father's wealth has not been earned through exactly lawful means. Moreover, she has seen, from day one, that her father has married twice and has been living with both of them! I can't imagine, how well rounded, was her upbringing process, but can confidently say that it was far from ideal.
news on rumi nath mla assam second husband jackie jakir
Now, should the Bashing in Karimganj be condemned or condoned?
news on rumi nath mla assam second husband jackie jakir
Should this question be asked at all?
news on rumi nath mla assam second husband jackie jakir
What Rumi and Jakir did was wrong in the eyes of the law of the land. I also understand that elected representatives are supposed to set examples for others to follow and should not indulge in such illegal, bigamous activities. But, in India, do we see that happen often? Aren't there some kind of skeletons in the cupboard of every other political leader? In the recent past only, the media has highlighted the cases of Bhanwari Devi or that of N. D. Tiwari. There is not even an iota of doubt that the duo were wrong, have taken an illegal step and that they should be tried for adultery. And, for indulging in such activities, Rumi should be disqualified from the assembly too. But, for their sins, there is a legal system in India, which can decide the magnitude of the punishment, if indeed, they are ever convicted. As I understand, Mr. Rakesh Singh has already filed a case and the matter is sub judice. Under these circumstances, the law should be allowed to run its due course.
But no! The alcohol assisted brave-hearts of Karimganj considered themselves to be the single window prosecutor, judge and executor of justice. What they did, reminded me of the 18th and 19th century USA, when Lynching Mobs were the standard norms for delivery of purported justice! There should not be any doubt that this incident was deplorable, shameful and should have been prevented in the first place. Now since this has happened, the police and the administration should ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book. Otherwise, this will set a dangerous precedent, when mobs will decide the course of action on behalf of the society.


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