Wednesday 22 August 2012

Love and Politics : Geetika, Shehla Masood, Bhawari, Fiza who Next ? Who is more accountable ?


The headlines of the newspapers yet again screamed about stories of authority and power insolently and obsessively playing with a woman’s poise.

Why all women victimised in relationships with politicians ?

The headlines of the newspapers yet again screamed about stories of authority and power insolently and obsessively playing with a woman’s poise.

Shehla Masood murder case: Love & Murder in Bhopal : The Big Story ?

Love triangle not motive behind Shehla's murder

Bhopal, Aug 17 (PTI) After one year of her killing, RTI activist Shehla Masood's father Sultan Masood has refuted claims that she was eliminated because of an alleged "love triangle" involving her and hinted at a "larger conspiracy" behind the crime. "The theory of a love triangle (allegedly involving Shehla, BJP MLA Dhruv Narayan Singh and an accused - Zahida Pervez) is totally implausible in my view," Sultan told PTI on Shehla's first death anniversary last evening. Shehla was shot dead on August 16 last year when she was sitting in her car just outside her house in the posh Koh-e-Fiza locality of Bhopal. CBI had so far arrested Zahida, her close confidant Saba Farooqui, and alleged killers - Irfan Ali, Tabish and Shaqib Danger - in the case which is under trial at a court in Indore. Sultan said Shehla used to spend most of her time in New Delhi since two years before her killing and would come here only for short trips for her RTI work, while Dhruv and Zahida were in Bhopal. "How can a love triangle take place between the three when one of them was not in the city where the other two were living," Sultan questioned while adding that even on the day of her killing, she was scheduled to go for an RTI hearing and attend a protest in support of Anna Hazare. Terming the probe in the case till now as "half truth half lies", the slain activist's father said he is confident that "CBI has till now not found the main persons behind the conspiracy to kill his daughter." "Shehla's killers may have been nabbed, but the curtain is yet to be lifted from the faces of the main persons who were behind the conspiracy to kill her," he said without naming anybody. He admitted that he had met MLA Dhruv Narayan once when he had come to his house. Meanwhile, he also appreciated the media coverage in the case and said "it was because of the pressure built by the print and electronic media through sustained coverage of Shehla's killing that the state government was forced to refer the matter to the CBI." PTI MAS AS GK GK

In the past few days, two stories of suicides have come to the fore from Haryana, both involving politicians. Twenty-three year old Geetika Sharma committed suicide on Sunday, naming Haryana politician Gopal Kanda in her suicide note and the death of Anuradha Bali alias Fiza second and estranged wife of Haryana politician Chander Mohan, remains a mystery.
The question is whether women are victimised in relationships with politicians. CNN-IBN Deputy Editor Sagarika Ghose took up the question with a distinguished panel on her show Face the Nation.

Sagarika Ghose: Hi there, we're focusing on the death of two women, 23-year-old Geetika Sharma who committed suicide on Sunday, naming Haryana politician Gopal Kanda in her suicide note and the death of Anuradha Bali alias Fiza, second and estranged wife of Haryana politician Chander Mohan. Two women, both dead, both associated with politicians, in this case Haryana politicians. Are women in danger of being victimised in relationships with politicians? Joining us tonight Rohit Mahajan, Fiza's Friend and Lawyer, Professor Renuka Dagar, Social Researcher, IDC, Bharat Dabholkar, Ad maker, Ranjana Kumari, Director, Centre For Social Research.
Rohit, I would to know from you first, you were Fiza's friend, the way her body was found, she was alone in the house, four days later an uncle came who discovered the body. Does this show that Fiza was very lonely?
Rohit Mahajan: Yes it is true that in the end she felt the loneliness.
Sagarika Ghose: But why was she so disappointed? She was educated, she was a lawyer, did she not have any job or she was not seeing any future?
Rohit Mahajan: See, I knew her for past 17 years, we passed out law graduation together. She was a very daring woman and her aims and objectives were very high. She wanted to do something big, she wanted to become something. She often used to tell me that there will be something big happen for the country from my side, I have to do something so that world remembers me. So she quickly climbed the ladder of success, she became Assistant District Attorney then Punjab Assistant Advocatye General, and then Haryana Assistant Advocate General. Then this cycle got linked to Chander Mohan.
Sagarika Ghose: Did she not get help from anywhere. Did her family and the society rejected her?
Rohit Mahajan: No, it's not like that. Circumstance became such that slowly changes came to her nature. The changes were not that she became adamant or aggressive, she had a dominant nature from the beginning that's why those who used to understood her got along with and others who don't got away.
Sagarika Ghose: Fiza was an ambitious woman she wanted to go ahead in life but after her relationship with Chander Mohan fell upon very bad times and she became depressed and lonely. Renuka Dagar, the common patterns between Geetika and Fiza were these are single women, they got associated with married politicians, politicians who wielded enormous power, in this situation given the disparity between the family and the politicians, do these situations end up becoming exploitative of women?
Renuka Dagar: Certainly they do, I think these kind of situations comment on that nature of politics which draws this power from a trading culture. So whether you are trading vote banks on caste and culture, whether that is providing freebies and when female become part of this trading ground then repercussion are quietly ugly and deadly for the female gender not just the woman itself. Of course there is a prior background we do see that there is attached to the female body. A lot of women now are moving out in public, they are going out for education, they have confidence, they have acquired capacity, they also have resources. But when a body becomes a thing of exchange that trap things up. On one hand you have acquired the celebrity status to the female body and on the other hands there are social norms that stigmatise such conduct. So when you perceive right and not realise in reality you are only left with two options either you submit or you exit. And in these two cases there has been the exit strategy that has been the suicide.
Sagarika Ghose: Those are very good insights, use of the female body as a resource and then when the success don't come submit or exit. Ranjana Kumari let me put you the point that Renuka also put that is the aspiration, in both of these cases, that they were women of aspiration, ambition, that they was nothing possible wrong with them. Given the fact of aspiration in order to rise in life you do sometimes get tempted by the politicians who wield power, who wield influence, you can be hold out for promises and then when those promises don't come true you could be terrible betrayed.
Ranjana Kumari: Well Sagarika let's look at it in a larger context, what has been happening in the history and even today globally that power and money becomes a tool in the hand of the patriarchy to exploit women. There is nothing wrong with aspiration, men also aspire but don't get used. Who knows if these to women would have not being submitted they would have been killed. We know the famous cases in UP and other places where these women were killed. We know that journalist who was killed. There are two things if they are used by these politicians they look at these politicians backyard, it happens internationally whether it was Mr Clinton, whether it was Mr Kahn, whether it Mr Berlusconi. I think in all those cases they had to stand the scrutiny. In our country they can get away with it, that is why they are behaving the way they are behaving that is why every politician by and large have a backyard of exploitation.
Sagarika Ghose: That's a very good point. The men very suffer because of these liasions and because of our structure 'mard hai, sher hai' and the women suffer. Bharat Dabholkar, why only blame the politicians, isn't it the same story in the Bollywood or elsewhere where powerful men use their power to exploit women and women, as Renuka and Ranjana are saying, are aspirational, they would now not submit like the women generations ago used to do. Is there a urge to exploit a woman who wants to rise in life?
Bharat Dabholkar: I think there are two things, in Fiza's case it is a question of love gone wrong, I think the man involved here is a politician, it could have been a Bollywood director, producer.
Sagarika Ghose: The question is then why would he not leave his wife and marry her?
Bharat Dabholkar: He did marry her.
Sagarika Ghose: Why wouldn't he then make it a legitimate marriage by divorcing her wife and then marrying her?
Bharat Dabholkar: Maybe his wife didn't give divorce. I don't know why he did converted to Islam, I am not getting into that. I am making one distinction here because I know millions of women who work very hard morning to night they look after there families and work for a small sum, and they are not looking compromise their morals. I know a lot of women who wanted to make their career in entertainment but they were not ready to compromise on their morals that's why they haven't made it. I think we have to make a distinction of exploitation of need, a girl has a need of help for survival and that is why she is giving in. and then there is exploitation that comes out of greed that I want all the good things very fast. I think that distinction is very necessary because I think if it the exploitation of need then a man has to be blamed but if it is a exploitation of greed then it is a barter system that is saying that I'll give you all the good thing in life for which you have to trade in your body.
Sagarika Ghose: Renuka, this is not exploitation, this is barter. Here bodies are used both ways.
Renuka Dagar: Absolutely, the minute you get in body as a point of exchange then there will be negative repercussions. In a male dominated society the repercussions will be much worse for the female. So whether it is a male or a female, when you make a body as a ground of exchange… what is politics as we know as the major stake holder of providing citizens dignity and right and if this section of politics are going to this kind of message across then the kind of message would be against it that this is not acceptable.
Sagarika Ghose: But Ranjana as you were saying that men repeatedly get away with it and it the women who dies and it the women who are being killed. In July 1995, youth Congress leader Sushil Sharma killed his wife Naina Sahani who he thought was in a illicit relationship, poet Madhumita was killed on the orders of wife of UP minister Amanamni Tripathy, Shehla Massod murder was allegedly was a part of a love triangle. Bhanwari Devi was killed for allegedly blackmailing a Rajasthan minister, so it is the women who are dying. So ultimately the power is wielded by the men to kill these women and still get away with it.
Ranjana Kumari: Absolutely, it is a sad perspective when we start looking at women and start blaming them. One of the panellist's statement about moralising them, some women compromise, some women don't compromise, some women standby whatever morality he is trying to propagate. I think it is precisely the question why men get away with it. It is almost as if you are saying that why do you wear mini-skirts, why do you go out in the night, that's why it is all happening.
Sagarika Ghose: Bharat Dabholkar comment on that, it is only the women who are committing suicide, getting killed, this is not barter, this is not give and take, the power equation is so unequal that I is only the women who end up giving their lives.
Bharat Dabholkar: No Sagarika, it is still give and take but it is a give and take gone wrong. I am a strong believer that any crime against women should be punished very severely. I have always said that a rapist should be castrated. I molester should flocked in the public.
Sagarika Ghose: But it never goes wrong for the men.
Bharat Dabholkar: I am saying if you are rapist you should be castrated, what more can I say. I am saying these women are educated women from a middle class family and they try to get success by latching on to a rich man.
Sagarika Ghose: Rohit tell us was Fiza threatened?
Rohit Mahajan: She was often threatened on the phone. And recently I came to know that a security man who has given the statement and said that she need private security because of the life threats. We had already given all this to police in written that Fiza should be provided with protection.
Sagarika Ghose: What Fiza used to tell, does she used to say that I have to live my life, I want to carry on my life or was she in depression?
Rohit Mahajan: It is not like that, there was nothing she said about depression. She always has been a daring, bold woman. It is out of my imagination that, that woman can commit suicide.
Sagarika Ghose: So you don't believe that Fiza committed suicide but that there is some foul play in this?
Rohit Mahajan: It cannot be a suicide, only the reports will tell whether it is natural death or an unnatural death.
Sagarika Ghose: Let me come to you Renuka, the fact that a friend is saying that this is a unnatural death is possibly a presumption but the power differential between these women and the politicians, does societies and families turn their back? In Geetika's case we saw the family themselves was going with Kanda, they visited Shirdi, they went on trips, is this the case where the family also becomes enamour of the celebrity of the politician? And in Fiza's case we saw that the family had no relationship with Fiza, her uncle came after four days who discovered the body. Does the woman snap ties with the family, does she lose social support?
Renuka Dagar: I think it is a very relevant point that is not only the woman who is negotiating in this trade off, there are families, friends who allow you this social leeway. They say if you are going to a reality show their dance movements, their sexual talks with the anchor, or the lady on the floor, all the is allowed, the father is clapping and cheering, but maybe they don't want that to go further step. the moment you take body as a point of negotiations that's where you are exchanging celebrity status.
Sagarika Ghose: Ranjana Kumari, is this the hopelessness because of the familes turn their back or the families also jump on the celebrity band wagon that the politician carry. You get cut off, you get cut off by the society, and male politicians never do.
Ranjana Kumari: Have you heard of an expression called fallen men, these are fallen women, the women who eloped, the women who latched on to, look at the language, men themselves talks about domination and subordination and look at the way it is described, the woman eloped with this, the man never elopes with the woman, the man doesn't exist and it is so sad. What about the aggressors, what about the men who do it, they never come to the camera. Have they ever tried to explain their behaviour? No. That's what explains the unequal power in the society.
Sagarika Ghose: It is a terrible equation of power, the men will keep on getting away with this and the women will lose their lives. That's the story.
Bharat Dabholkar: I think it is a disgrace that men are allowed to get away with this

The headlines of the newspapers yet again screamed about stories of authority and power insolently and obsessively playing with a woman’s poise. Yes, I am talking about the infamous Geetika Sharma suicide case that jolted the nation on August 05. Just a day after, the news of the alleged suicide by Fiza Mohammad aka Anuradha Bali came to the fore. What a coincidence, both the ladies seemingly killed themselves after being continuously harassed by politicians.

Geetika Sharma, a 23-year-old former flight attendant of now-defunct MDLR Airlines, was found hanging in her flat in North-West Delhi. She blamed Haryana’s former minister Gopal Goyal Kanda for the extreme step in her suicide note.

Another symbol of stark impiety by yet another politician was Fiza Mohammad’s four-day-old festering body with maggots crawling over it, which was recovered from her house at Mohali in Chandigarh.

If we talk about the Geetika Sharma case, one notices that she was an archetypal middle-class girl with aspirations. She joined a firm that was run by former Haryana minister Gopal Goyal Kanda who allegedly had a voracious appetite for her, which is depicted by the fact that the Delhi Police have found a ‘special clause’ in Geetika’s appointment letter wherein she was supposed to report to her employer, Kanda, every day ‘after work’. A colleague of Geetika also told the police that “Kanda had put a chair in Geetika’s cabin and used to sit there most of the time”. Reports also claim that Geetika wished to pursue MBA, and Kanda funded her with Rs 7.5 lakh. But favours sometimes prove to be lethal.

An e-mail has been traced by the Delhi Police which was written by Geetika to MDLR human resource manager, Aruna Chadha, a co-accused in this case, which states, “I will build my career on my matter how many obstacles one puts in my way”. Here, 'one' allegedly is Kanda. Surely, there were obstacles, otherwise why would Kanda remain evasive for more than 10 days after Geetika’s death. Did he want to get rid of all the evidences, which probably pushed Geetika to commit suicide?

It was reported that on March 31, 2009 Geetika was issued a letter from MDLR that had orders of her relocation and re-designation to Goa as the ‘coordinator of MDLR group’. It was also reported that in Goa she came to know that Kanda allegedly had relations with other women too. Nine months after, she resigned and joined Emirates. It gives a hint that Geetika possibly wanted to get out of Kanda’s trap. Her colleagues reportedly said that she used to be upset about 'something' most of the times.

Going by Geetika’s suicide note, it seems that she was tottering under a frail state and to her realisation, evidently falling into a ‘black hole’ from where she could never escape.

Previously, there were reports that Geetika was pregnant and got her abortion done, reacting to which her brother Ankit told a newspaper that “this is character assassination of my sister. If this was true, we would have known”. But, finally the post-mortem report revealed that Geetika Sharma was ‘sexually active’ and that she also had ‘unnatural sex’. Did Geetika commit suicide out of some guilt? There is seriously something wrong. Her brother also told another website that “Kanda wanted to keep Geetika close to him at any cost. He was doing everything to achieve his goal but Geetika wanted to get rid of him”. Her family also mentioned that Kanda used to ask her to return back and join the company again and even went to Dubai to convince her. Did Kanda want her to return as he was obsessed with her and believed that Geetika was in her trap and possibly now could not wriggle out of it? But, Geetika’s family also comes under suspicion as Kanda shared good relations with them too - then why did they suddenly raise objections about his association with her? Were they in dark previously or do they have some motive?

On August 12, Geetika again quit Emirates and came back to India. This time she was offered the post of ‘director of corporate affairs’ at MDLR group and a ‘luring’ salary by Kanda. In her suicide note she mentioned that she was harassed by both Kanda and Chadha - if that was the case, then why did she join back the firm after resigning from Emirates? An airhostess is promoted to the level of a director and she accepts it. Why? One of the reasons could be that she was scared as according to reports, Kanda sent a fake letter about extradition proceedings initiated against Geetika which might have forced her to join back MDLR.

On the other hand, Gopal Kanda mentioned in his plea that Geetika was “hypersensitive in nature”. Even, his lawyer KTS Tulsi mentioned that “Geetika was obsessed with Kanda”.

In Kanda’s plea, he alleged that, “Geetika’s act of suicide was not the handy work of a sound mind but that of a confused and frustrated individual”. Kanda even said that he didn’t know Geetika’s family and just shared employer-employee relations with her. Then how come his pictures appeared with Geetika’s family?

Why did he abscond for so long? Why did he fund Geetika’s MBA fee if he knew that Geetika was ‘obsessed’ with him? Police investigation reveals that hard disk and some electronic data of MDLR office are missing. Did Kanda want to destroy all the evidences and escape freely? It has also been reported that Geetika’s Facebook account has been deactivated. Geetika’s family claims that they didn’t have her account’s password. Then, who did it?

Geetika’s brother Ankit alleges that Kanda’s surrender was a ‘pre-planned drama’ and the government was helping him.

Adding more suspicion about Kanda, Nupur Mehta, who became famous after cricket match-fixing scandal, and was a previous employee of MDLR airlines, made some startling revelations claiming that Geetika and Kanda were quite close to each other and had gone on several foreign trips together including Singapore, Dubai, Macau, London and Hong Kong. Why did he spend so much on a particular employee? There are reports that most of the staff of MDLR Airlines constituted of female workers.

Further, police investigations have revealed that actually, Kanda was very much obsessed with her and the police have unearthed hundreds of messages that Kanda sent to Geetika which clearly point out his ‘mania’ for her. Is it a typical story of forcefulness, blackmail and ultimately death?

Now, let’s take Fiza Mohammad’s case. It is said that her eyes met with former Haryana deputy chief minister Chander Mohan at a juice corner in Chandigarh. They were so much in love that the minister left his family behind and the two married each other. But later, their ‘choti si love story’ came to an end when he divorced Fiza who was once ‘chand’ for Chander Mohan and went back to his family. After this incident, a furious Fiza made a complaint against him charging him of rape, cheating, and what not. She made almost every possible attempt to get him back and as a result, the ‘closed chapter’ once again became open when Chander Mohan returned to her. He apologised to her and took back his statement which he had once made - “I have left Fiza”. She did everything to save their marriage but, her love could not ‘embrace’ him for long and finally he went back forever due to family and political pressure and even divorced her on phone saying “Talaq talaq talaq”. Was this separation the reason behind her death? But, after this incident, Fiza mentioned that she will not sit back like an ‘abla naari’ and will expose the minister. For this, she campaigned against the Bhajan Lal family in the 2009 Assembly elections in Haryana. But, why would a woman, who took such a bold step of marrying an already married man and even campaigning against him, choose an easy step, suicide as an option?

Fiza Mohammad was a former Assistant Advocate General of Haryana who left her employment to marry Chander Mohan in December 2008. Further, as per a news agency, Fiza aka ‘Anuradha Bali’ floated Fiza-e-hind, an NGO, after she parted ways with Chander Mohan. Then what went wrong suddenly? What circumstances forced her to end her life despite having future plans?

When Fiza Mohammad’s body was recovered, the deceased did not leave behind any suicide note but half a bottle of liquor and a pack of cigarette. Was she trying to cope up with some mental pressure?

After divorcing Fiza, Chander Mohan never looked back at her and easily got away with ruining Fiza’s life, whom he had married and once claimed to have loved.

This is not the first time that such cases have come to light but if one happens to look back, it can be easily traced that such cases of barefaced use of power and wickedness of politicians have time and again ruined lives of many women in the name of insane love.

Before Geetika and Fiza, there were others like Madhumita Shukla, who was an aspiring poet from UP. She allegedly had a love-affair with politician Amarmani Tripathi. She is said to have been pregnant with the minister’s child when she was killed.

Another case is of RTI activist Shehla Masood’s, who was allegedly involved in a love triangle with a BJP MP and was ultimately murdered. But, one year after her killing, her father Sultan Masood refuted claims that she was murdered because of an alleged ‘love triangle’.

And then there is the sensational Bhanwari Devi murder case of Jodhpur who lost her life for allegedly blackmailing a Rajasthan minister.

There is no single, certain answer to these questions - it is elusive. If we look at some common patterns in these cases of “fatal attractions” that involved politicians, a possible answer could be that power and money have become a tool in the hands of the rich and the mighty who try to exploit women and then easily get away with it. And, interestingly, the pattern undertaken is the same. An obsessive politician, with his eye on a woman, offers her a coveted career with impressive incentives, gifts, foreign trips and what not? As a result, the female falls in his ‘glittery’ trap and these desires sometimes prove to be fatal for them.

It is evident that most women now aim for higher education and are moving out of their shells and hide-bound roles to assert their own individuality with desire to achieve something immense in life, to acquire a well-known and respectable status for themselves which is very natural and human. One has to understand that there is nothing wrong with having aspirations and women should not be blamed just for being ambitious. But, being a girl in this ‘mardo ki duniya’, she has to be careful so that she does not fall prey to exploitation at the hands of some influential men, as men also aspire but they seldom get used.

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