We have been searching for gods for a long time. We search for them under the rubble of the destroyed homes of other gods. We search for them within holy places where terrorists once took shelter. We search for them at sites where a child was gang raped for days on end, before being stoned to death.
But the gods cannot be found, for they must have left the temples.
Which gods would bear witness to an eight-year-old child being lured into a temple by its caretaker on the pretext of helping her find the horses she was grazing in the forest, and stay mute when her parents asked her kidnapper if he had seen her the next day? Which gods would watch in silence as he said she must have gone to a relative’s house, even as she lay captive in the prayer hall, only yards away from her worried parents?
Could gods watch the fruition of such a Machiavellian plan as 60-year-old Sanji Ram laid, to kidnap, rape, and kill a child from the Bakherwal tribe in order to drive them away from his village?
Would gods listen as, on January 11, the day the child’s parents came in search of her to the temple, her kidnapper’s nephew called up his cousin in Meerut and invited him to the village of Rassana to “satisfy his lust”?
Would the gods be appeased as two rapists performed temple rituals before and after assaulting a child, in order not to rouse suspicion?
Would the gods stay in a prayer hall even as a child was brutalised and killed on the premises where they are worshipped?
Would the gods look on while a policeman was enlisted to help in the rape and murder, who in turn promised the juvenile nephew he would help him pass his school board exams in return for having his way with the child?
Could gods remain in the temple as six men, including two Special Police Officers, spent at least three days raping a child, who was under sedation with Epitril tablets when she was not being torn apart?
Did gods watch when, just before she was strangulated and smashed on the head with stones, the child was raped one final time by a policeman, and then by everyone else?
The child’s body was found in the forest a week after she went missing, and the chargesheet in the case was made public nearly three months after her body was recovered. A separate chargesheet was filed on Tuesday, following the 15-page one on Monday, this time dealing exclusively with the role of the juvenile.
It was March 19 before Sanji Ram’s son, who had travelled from Meerut to Kathua to rape a child, was arrested, and Ram himself surrendered the next day.
Did the gods acquiesce as investigating officers Tilak Raj and Anand Dutta accepted bribes of up to Rs. 4 lakh in three instalments to destroy evidence of what they had done? Did they watch as the two washed the child’s clothes before sending them to the forensic laboratory, as they planted false evidence and contaminated the scene?
Did the gods approve when psychopaths supporting the rapists and murderers of a child waved the national flag and protested against the filing of the chargesheet?
Could gods look on as a man who lights the lamp at the temple decides that a community of nomads should not be allowed to graze their animals in the villages of his district, and concludes that the best way to keep them out is to kidnap and rape a child from their community?
As we put up pictures and hold placards of a child with wide eyes and tender face, a child who loved horses and meadows, a child who was tortured and killed in the confines of a temple, let us hope the gods have left the temples.
Let us hope the gods did not watch as their sycophants carried out a crime more heinous than imaginable.
Let us hope the gods are dead.
When Nietzsche first proposed the theory of the death of god, he said:
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?”
Those are the questions we have to ponder today, the day we hope the gods have left the temples.