Bystander behaviour


Recently the Amboli murders of two youth and the heinous violence that was unleashed on the youth who died protecting the girls who were victims of sexual harassment. This case yet again raised an alarm about the 50 odd people who were bystanders, legally witnesses to this whole gory incident.

Media went ballistic about the whole issue of how bystanders although witnessed this whole incident, preferred not raise any alarm, the people didn’t shout or ‘prevent’ the attackers. That they happened to be equipped with swords, daggers, choppers, sticks, which happened to be sharp weapons, is conveniently forgotten by the news anchors, reporters who often sit on a high horse.

Let me first inform the definition of Bystander according to the Oxford Eng dictionary. ‘Bystander-Is a person present at an event but does not participate in it.’ Please I shall write in bold or capitals? ‘BYSTANDER – IS A PERSON PRESENT AT AN EVENT BUT NOT PARTICIPATE IN IT.’ Please before go into moralistic overtones, the last part is significantly important. ‘Does not participate.’ I firstly do NOT condone any violence whether provoked or otherwise. Moreover I don’t condone the killings or the fact no one did anything. But please before we keep saying my dear city, Bombay has become cruel, hardened, please let’s get some facts clear.

Bystanders never will participate and whether we debate strongly that they should and tomorrow they’d be in a similar situation, let’s not forget they are not expected to be pro-active. Just stand by a theatre, look focussed into some particular spot and make it your target for staring. Within minutes you will gather a curious audience staring not realising which is the exact spot. That is usually the crowd, bystander’s behaviour.

Now just honestly imagine yourself in the shoes of those standing at the site, where a group of sturdy youth walk towards their target with the aim of attacking. They are equipped with the sharpest of weapons. You have nothing on yourself. You would want to do something, and the first thing is to scoot from there wanting to save your life. Well, else you stand to see ‘kya ho raha hai.’

It is easy for us to say that people want free entertainment all the while. May be to some extent it is true, but most often it is curiosity. And we need not always think that bystanders are inhuman. They are ‘human.’ I mean let’s first be honest with ourselves. It is very easy for most to say that “if I were there I would’ve shouted, something the on-lookers could have done, called, blah blah…” yeah? Sure?

Have anyone amongst us see A sword, forget swords. A chopper; a dagger? Have you stood in front of a mob that is irate & their eyes show they have intent to kill? And yet you think the bystanders, crowd shou8ld have done something? Then you’re plain liar. Just the immense fright could have made one pee. I used to be stalked in the 90s by some silly, strange looking filmy sorts at the various parties, dos when I was covering the entertainment beat for Aaj Tak in the earliest years of the channel.

I complained of it to my senior who is an editor with Hindi print paper/magazine. He said “in the next event Neeta just go upto them & give one tight slap aur mujhe batana mein bhi saath chalunga.” Yes? On the night these twosome were spotted again following me I went all geared to slap. They stood with a group of men, I simply retreated. Judge the situation & especially your enemy’s cards with intelligence. I was pissed off, angry. I then told the senior scribe & he confronted them…he was a man I was a woman.

I have been a victim of sexual harassment. It may anger me, make me feel shitty that no one came forward to help me, but that’s being unfair. Someone somewhere quietly may also have called the police. Taken some video & sent it. I’m NOT concerned with that. I am simply stating the fact that it is humanly NOT possible for those unarmed to take on, confront those are doubly armed. It is also NOT wise. Please it isn’t like an ordinary situation.

We need to have more emergency dealing, near-disaster situation handling mechanism. What we need is NOT society’s intervention at all times. We need more of security, police who will respond promptly. The reason citizens do not get bothered is because when some few have, like in accident cases or in injured cases the police torment the helpers. They grill them. Put them through tormenting processes. The fact that the beat patrolling policemen were absent is more worrisome to me. We as reporters shift the focus from the root cause to something altogether different.

Society when it gets confidence will show a different attitude. Till then we have to reconcile to the fact that its our battle & we need to deal with it. I’m sure readers will get infuriated, think they are super heroes. Sorry, I’m not a super hero. I’m a human. What I would’ve done would reduce this all to me saying things that would reflect delusional heroic stance. I can’t imagine such a situation…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.