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Major Handa Case: Why will it be the woman’s fault anyway?

Shailja Dwivedi

Army Major Nikhil Handa allegedly killed another officer’s wife after she refused to reciprocate his feelings and blatantly declined his offer to marry her. But as a society, we sat up and started criticising the woman in question instead.

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Army Major Nikhil Handa allegedly killed another officer’s wife after she refused to reciprocate his feelings and blatantly declined his offer to marry her. Handa and the lady had met in 2015 and were in constant touch. Handa was reportedly obsessed with her and wanted to marry her. He was once even reprimanded and warned by the woman’s husband when he found them video chatting. But the guy paid no heed and continued calling her up. On Monday, when he proposed to her and she rejected, he is known to have killed her.

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We live in a judgemental society

The fact that a life was lost is sad. It’s sadder that this was an act in a fit of rage over love. But what makes it worse is the fact that we as a society have once again failed the quintessential ‘civic test’.

We could have been sad about the incident or felt horrible for the woman and her family. At most we could have been unfazed and least bothered by what happened to them. An indifferent society sometimes is better than a judgmental society. But like I said, we often fail in the civic test; we sat up and started criticising the woman in question.

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We asked why she was even in touch with the guy despite being married. Why did she sit in his car? Which woman in her right mind would sit in a ‘paraya’ man’s car? I wouldn’t be surprised if someone visited her Facebook profile and said, “Did you look at her pictures? They say a lot about her character.”

Yes. CHARACTER! What exactly is this all-fragile, all-gas, no-substance word?

This is how we define character

A woman who is married and has a kid decides to go out and have a drink alone. The neighbourhood aunty who is sitting there with her gang of friends spots the woman sipping her beer (yes, not wine but beer). Do I need to say anything more about the woman’s character?

A young girl comes back from office really late. She is single and is dropped by a male colleague. What could be worse in this situation is the girl being dropped by different colleagues on different days. Again, do I need to say more?

God forbid, but if anything happens to any of these women, it will be declared that they “invited it” and the neighborhood aunties and the desperate, equally nosey uncles will proudly claim to have always known it!

I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of turmoil the deceased’s family must be going through. But do they know that in the years to come, the army officer will be looked and talked about in hushed tones mostly as “that guy whose wife had an affair and was killed”. I know a lot of you while reading this can almost hear these words, like I can.

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We are a merciless society and especially if we are talking about our women. Right from being raped to being loved and killed, it is somehow always the woman’s fault. Isn’t it?

We at Bonobology know that our one article will not change the society but as mother Teresa once said, “I know I am a drop in the ocean. But I am still a drop”. Heard about ripple effect? Yes sometimes, even a drop creates it!

Swaty Prakash
(From the Editor’s Desk)

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7 Comments

  1. I totally agree. .thats how the society is. Always judgemental specially where a woman is concerned. It’s so sad ….what progressive mindset do we talk about ?? It’s not wrong to be friendly….yes one needs to be careful but at times inspite of all care things happen. I too wander all the things that must be being said behind the back of her husband, parents, siblings…

  2. The desperation of this Major Handa to make another Officer’s wife, his own, shows, how selfish, that person, has been. There is a culture in the Indian Defence, where some western life styles, are accepted in Indian Defence Services. This is a sad reflection of the trends, that are showing up in the Defence Officials. Greediness and Selfishness is on the rise. Blaming the woman in this case, is never going to help at all. Every woman, has her own likes and dislikes, and the level of trust, she has in a male, varies, from one woman to another woman. Here, she has trusted a lusty MAJOR, and has failed to recognise his possessive tendencies. Two lives stand ruined, the MAJOR will be haunted, and will loose a lot. The woman is no more. Both families have been disturbed, permanently. It is going to take a good many years, to bring both families, into NORMAL living.

    I used to always override, people, when they used to talk about the NASTY behaviour of some DEFENCE employees. Now my views are changing, and I find it hard to trust any defence person.

    These are my personal views, and I hope, it might help for course correction.

    1. @Keshava

      I fully agree with you. I also think mindless westernization is also a precipitating factor. We see increased support for prioritizing individual freedom over obligations and responsibilities. This is a tariff free import to the Indian culture from the West. We claim to revere the ancient wisdom of the Indian culture, yet we mindlessly exhibit personal greed. Cheater websites such as Ashley Madison, dating apps such as Tinder only promote sexual promiscuity thru’ flings and etc.

      The pervasive influence of the Internet – instant connectivity leave no room for self reflection.

      The lusty greed of Major Handa is the consequence. As you rightfully stated it is the acceptance of the westernization by the defense personnel, particularly by the North Indians and Punjabis in the defense services is the reason for this disease.

      Finally, it’s not all fault of the women (fairer sex). Do we really respect women in India? NO. If we see a woman we men prey in her physical vulnerability to sexually molest her – to show how we brutally we can subdue her. The various rapes that primarily take place in North India (New Delhi), are a testament to the fact that a large part of our fellow countrymen should be behind bars. Unfortunately, speedy justice in Eve teasing or sexual harassment remains elusive.

    2. We understand your sentiments but by generalising the defence personnels, you are defeating the very purpose of this article. We need to grow together as a civic society, shaming women, shaming men or shaming any organisation in particular, is not correct. The incidents should be assessed as indl events, in this case, the man in question does not represent the entire defence organisation because while he was committing this heinous crime, many officers s and jawans were and are fighting The terrorists and taking bullets for safe guarding this very society of which you and me are a part. What we require is Discretion ….unfortunately, that’s the very thing which is in short supply.

      1. @Arti:

        So we should leave Handa’s sexual lust out of the discussion and not pass any judgement?

        Suppose we learn from Handa’s action something, how do we know that we have learnt something? What is the proof?

        There is this leftist view, “pursuing freedom” at any cost. This view is present in the West that has 53% divorce, with out-of-wedlock births, extramarital affairs. drugs, etc and etc, that is considered by many feminists as a beacon of female emancipation.

        The consequence of all the above in the West is jail term, or severe incarceration.

        Do we really want to emulate the western model of personal relationships that is exemplified by Handa’s lust did a married woman that leads to pyrrhic consequences? Is pursuing such personal freedom a desirable thing?

    3. So u shld not trust any civilian for that matter right.. such cases are seen more in civil than in defence. Don’t make an opinion based on few.

  3. The editor’s desk (Swaty Prakash) is being judgemental herself when blaming the society at large about this insane incident.

    First, this major Handa must be hanged to death. The justice system in India sucks like shit. Everybody with any ounce of conscience would recall the horrible death-rape of Ms. Jyoti Prakash Pandey (Nirbhaya rape case) in December 2013. Has anything tangible happened, except pussyfooting and asinine posturing? None. What has NOW (National Organization for Women) done so far, other than shouting from rooftops?

    Similarly why did it take so long to ban the barbaric system of triple talaq? Why?

    Coming back to the gruesome and shameful incident of Major Handa, I would surely lay part of the blame on the husband and the wife. Though, I would certainly hold major Handa primarily responsible for the sexual harassment. The woman and her dutiful husband should have shifted her somewhere to an undisclosed location. That did not happen since 2015 when they first met. Why precautionary measures were not taken?

    The problem is that the entire judicial system is lopsided and holds to archaic values. On the one hand women have been given extreme rights regarding divorce. Thus has been used in many cases against innocent husband’s and in-laws. (I am going by the several Times of India reports). On the other hand section. 497 of the Indian Penal Code rules that in a case concerning adulterous wife, the woman cannot be charged. Only the man in the game shall be held guilty. This legal provision also is biased against men.

    In addition, women empowerment in today’s times means that extramarital affairs, as read on Bonobology, having sex outside marriage are hallmarks of breaking the ceiling. Nothing is sacred anymore. Nowhere is this better reflected in the video by the Bollywood glitterati Deepika Padukone’s bold video MY CHOICE.

    To sum it up, from my perspective, Indian men in general are feeling confused and hopeless because of the increased legal rights for women in matters of divorce, relationships. The Indian man feels hopeless in any relationship with the opposite sex. Legally nothing can be done to prevent an extramarital affair initiated by the female partner. Adultery rests on the man. On top of that the rising number of women joining the workforce has imparted women with more independence – which has broken the shackles of family bondage. Another fact, which ToI reported, Indian relationships are easily broken now like in the West, thanks to the sex selling outlets like the Canadian website: Ashley Madison. TOI reported that about 81% of its subscribers are from the conservative Tamilnadu, and are women.

    To conclude my long response, I cannot see NOW calling for the death penalty of major Handa if he is proven as the murderer in a court of law. The NOW has not to my knowledge raised hell with the Central government regarding the Nirbhaya rape case.

    Men have a history of disrespecting women, particularly in Indian subcontinent. But, has the tide changed anything for the better? Have women risen against the injustice committed against them by male demons like major Handa, or as in the Nirbhaya rape case? If women view patriarchy as the root of the problem then they must collectively rise. That maybe more effective instead of more legal rights to women that protects their guilt, if any, when they exercise their choice to break free.

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