Sunday morning saw me as one among the lakhs of Bangaloreans shocked by the news of the gruesome rape and murder of Pratibha Srikanth Murthy, a HP BPO employee, at the hands of a ruthless cab-driver, Shivakumar. Only later in the day did the complete realization of the ghastly act hit me with full force. You’ve never seen a tragedy till it happens to you or your loved ones, it is said. Pratibha turned out to be the cousin of a dear childhood school friend of mine, S.
As I spoke to S, the dark murky details of the whole incident began to unfold. From what S told me and also going by what was shown when the incident was covered as a 2-episode feature on Ravi Belegere’s “Crime Diary” recently, I wondered, could there be more to it than what meets the eye? As a rule I totally avoid watching such shows, I hate the way they sensationalize crime to make it their USP; but this time personal interest drove me to watch it and to give it credit, it explored those confusing sinister areas of the crime which the police and the media are not ready to consider at the moment – the possible involvement of the husband in the crime. As things stand, no supporting evidence has been found and the driver continues to reiterate that he is solely responsible for this heinous act. Innocent till proven guilty is the rule, so lets leave it at that.
What this incident has done is it has raised several questions about a few fundamental issues in my mind.
Firstly, how safe is it to travel by a cab? Forget call centres, taking a cab-ride during late/odd hours has become a way of life for most youngsters these days, especially from the IT industry. In such a scenario, how safe is it to completely surrender oneself to the control of a single individual? Irrespective of all the tracking mechanisms, GPS and what not, what if it is too late, as it happened in Pratibha’s case? Wouldn’t everything depend upon the whims, thought-process, mindset and circumstances associated with that one person? How can one even predict how anybody will react/ behave at any given time? For that matter, how safe is it to have a not-too-well-known male-co-worker along to ensure that ladies don’t get picked first/ dropped last? How can one afford to trust anybody after one sees a man with a 6–month pregnant wife back home stoop so low to commit this lecherous act?
Secondly, here I am considering a hypothetical situation where the husband is involved in the crime. Not necessarily Pratibha, it could be anybody’s case. If a husband is found involved in a crime like this for mercenary reasons, where does that leave love and humanity? Supposing the girl in question has married the guy against the wishes of her family, she did it because she trusted him, believed in him enough to give up everything else that was dear to her. What happens to all this love, trust and faith?? If a person, whom you completely believe, implicitly trust and intend to spend the rest of your life with, does this to you, can there be anything worse?
Whatever the punishment meted out to the guilty, will it make any difference? Will it bring back a dead daughter to a mother, who has seen her grow for the past 24 years and never once imagined in her wildest nightmares that her baby would one day be found as a rotting, mutilated corpse, retrieved after lying unclaimed in a ditch for 3 days and 3 nights? How does one console a friend who’s lost a dear cousin and has had to deal with a houseful of hysterical, completely heart-broken relatives?
Are these lessons that life wants us to learn? If yes, what is the point that life is trying to make? I’m lost…