Released in January 2011, No One Killed Jessica, is a political crime thriller by director Rajkumar Gupta takes you through the struggle of Sabrina Lal and her family, seeking justice for her sister’s killer, a politician’s son. The film is based on a real life incident: the much known Jessica Lal murder case.
Jessica Lal, a celebrity barmaid and model, had been shot dead at a crowded socialite party around 2am in April 1999. The five-year long trial finally ended up acquitting Manu Sharma and a number of others on 21 February 2006. However, after Tehelka’s sting operation and breakthrough journalism, intense media and public pressure followed on the politicians, judiciary and police. All this, finally that led the prosecution to appeal in the Delhi High Court, wherein the proceedings were conducted on a fast track basis with daily hearings conducted over 25 days. The trial court judgment was overturned, and Manu Sharma was found guilty of having murdered Jessica. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on 20 December 2006.
After paroles that had been extended multiple times, during which Manu Sharma had been spotted partying in a night-club; finally in November 2009, Sharma was forced to submit himself back to the Tihar Jail.
Ten long years to justice. Patience, grit, determination, humiliation – what all the family faced. It shook me!
Each time I watch the movie, its dialogues and story stir me. It makes me think of the miserable condition of the judiciary and laws in my country. It does make me feel helpless. I make it a point to sign almost every online petition I find relevant wherein a voice needs to be strengthened to let it be heard, in a hope of doing my bit. And today I am writing, venting out my concerns. Somehow, it has not sufficed. I still feel helpless.
Of late when I watched No One Killed Jessica, the Delhi gang-rape case came to my mind: one and a half years to the brutal, inhuman rape and her eventual unfortunate death with multiple organ failure, the braveheart’s parents still see the Supreme Court of India staying the death sentence of her rapists.
And then I go on to think of the n number of acid attack, molestation, eve teasing, sexual assault, domestic violence and rape cases that have been pending in courts, those thousand women waiting for justice and those rapists roaming free, unleashed, without control over their bottoms and with that arrogance of masculine-superiority over female minds and bodies. It has been a decade for the laws to have been bent in the Jessica Lal murder case trial. It happened again. It has been happening time and again.
If the highest court of my country gives regressive judgements one after another, who do I turn to for justice? They’ll rightfully call me a criminal if I murder the guilty myself!
This clearly means I must be a self-protective woman, knowing basic self-defence, because there are vultures roaming around in every nook and corner of the society who are hungry of my sexual and moral submissiveness.
Often when I’ve travelled by public transport, I’ve been stared at grossly, scanned from head to toe, cunningly smiled at, followed, indirectly been asked for my cell phone number just because I was alone or I had the guts to decently ask a “male” passenger of the bus’ departure time. I’ve been seen as a spoilt modern woman because I stay alone and my fiance and/ or other male friends keep visiting me home. I and my friend sitting in a car outside a garden, having chai on a late evening had been masturbated at. Why?
So what do I tell our political leaders who claim safety of women or media-sensationalised rape cases in my country? Is this the society that has been made for me? Is this the country I am expected to bring my daughter into and sing to her, what a wonderful world?
I am a so-called responsible citizen who has casted a vote, every single election since she was 18 because they told me even a single vote matters. Does it really matter? I just can quote a few lines, again from the movie, No One Killed Jessica (in hindi).
Song: Dua | Singer: Meenal Jain, Joi Barua, Raman Mahadevan & Amitabh Bhattacharya,
Music: Amit Trivedi | Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya
Andhere tarse, khuda ke ghar se
Ujaale na kyun barse
Guzaare kaise, saza ke jaise
Din namo ke lagey arse
Sab sajde de, sajde de