Reviews > The 13 men from Subalpur
  • Arjun Janah

    I would like to thank the author of this article for the work she has done in researching this case, and for writing this piece. This gives us some insight into what really happened in this particular instance, and also into the general situation faced by the Santals and surely other adivasis in India.

    To dig down through the layers of this case was surely no easy task.

    It appears likely that a great injustice was done, and much suffering inflicted on the whole village.

    I am glad that at least some have the persistence to try and discover the truth, make this public, and so counter the simplistic, black-and-white narratives seized on by the media. This is very difficult.

    The observable reality, as this case shows, has shades of gray–and may even be the photographic negative of the picture presented to the public.

    Thanks again.

  • Harish Maru

    Is retrial not possible?

  • Ashley Tellis

    Excellent piece except for the first paragraph which gets the protest after the December 2012 rape in Delhi and the legal changes after completely wrong

  • Dulali Nag

    Very well reasoned and consistently argued. There is no question that serious injustice has been done to the community and to the accused.

    The only point of contention I have. Having followed the media reports at that time and holding conversations with some urban voices in Calcutta, my contention is that this incident is just another example of across the board media irresponsibility and the general atmosphere among the urban Indians at that point of time soon after the Delhi gang rape incident. Adivasis as a community all over India are caught up in a complex web of exploitation by the comparatively upper caste and well-to-do Indians. Whenever any untoward incident happens in an Adivasi community these structures get mobilized to erase or minimize their own involvement and frame the tribals in the picture. That there is a general, all pervasive, unspoken condescension for tribals among the “educated” (or even the un-educated but comparatively upper castes) notwithstanding, I don’t think this incident was being used as a “witch hunt” against the tribals. They were framed, yes, but that was done by the people immediately involved who wanted to deflect attention away from themselves. That proper investigative journalism was not done to search for the truth is something that we all are very used to seeing. It happens when it is a case of the dalits, of marginalized women, of north-easterners and so forth. The same thing was happening here. Possibly if the incident had taken place BEFORE the Delhi gang rape, there would not have been such an uproar about it either.

    All I want to say is that this particular incident, as the author herself observes, was much too complex to “nail” the 13 men. But to read an indictment of the tribals BECAUSE they were tribals is not the case here. Often we have to take the historical times into account to understand what the media does, where its interest lies. A nailing of “rapists” was the general chant in the media at that time. That’s what the “public” wanted. The tribal men were framed by their immediate superiors and the media just didn’t bother to probe.

    Not always is it a case of cultural bias acting against the underprivileged. Sometimes it is just the Institutions of news reporting that mindlessly — and self-interestedly — reports what they believe the “public” wants. Media report creates the Public, not the other way round.

  • Aaditto Shen

    Brilliant analysis hand-in-hand with apt challenges to the ‘mainstream’ is hard to come by… This is an exceptional piece of work!

    For whatever it is worth, I live and work in close association with the Santal (in fact, in close ‘dis-association’ of late, after having fallen in love with and marrying a Santal woman) – and ever since the Subal-pur incident, I have been looking for a REAL report on it – as the ‘mainstream’ one just did not make any sense to me, given my exposure to the primitive and yet holistic and fundamentally-compassionate ways of the Santal people!

    I personally know both Kunal and Ruby, mentioned in this piece, and their versions made way more sense to me from the beginning… What this piece does is to successfully draw-out an ARGUMENT, based on the ‘versions’ that challenge the mainstream one, and lay bare the viciousness with which this and many such ‘verdicts’ end up harming indigenous cultures – in the name of ‘modernity’!

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