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Power politics: What does the Fiza and Geetika story tell us?

As a nation, we are in a state of perpetual outrage by the corruption and criminality of our politicians.

Corruption crusader Arvind Kejrival called them “rapists, murderers and looters.” He also alleged that 163 members of the Indian parliament have charges of heinous offences against them. In the recent elections to the UP assembly, about 35 percent of the candidates, irrespective of their parties, had criminal cases against them.

Notwithstanding Team Anna’s anti-politicians campaign, it’s more or less taken for granted that corruption and crime are wired into Indian politics.

But a real danger that goes rather unnoticed is the heady cocktail of criminality and misuse of power of some politicians that target women. The death of two women; Fiza Mohammed/Anuradha Bali in Chandigarh and Geetika Sharma in Delhi; both allegedly suicides; is yet another evidence of the combined venom of immorality and criminality of some of our politicians.

One was in her forties while the other, at 23, had just begun her adult life.

We should be worried because it is a plot against women that is repeated with impunity.

A story of authority and power playing out as obsession with the women they set their eyes on. It is not just the immorality of their public office, but their blatant misuse of power that ultimately hurts women and ruins their lives. Some victims are plain vulnerable and have stars in their eyes, while some are ambitious; but either way, the dalliance with politicians tends to end in a fatal mess.

We haven’t done a survey or a detailed analysis; but a qualitative reading will surface several recent cases of “fatal attractions” that involved politicians. The pattern is strikingly similar: the politician sets his eyes on a woman, who is either unsuspecting or aware of the perks that he can get her in the form of plum jobs, contracts or gifts plus all that happens in the realm of obsessive behaviour. In almost all cases, the politician is in his forties or fifties and has a family, and the victim always remains the other woman.

A file photo of Fiza alias Anuradha Bali, the estranged wife of Haryana politician Chander Mohan. PTI

At some stage, the relationship sours for some common reasons: one, the obsessive phase dies down and the man loses interest; two, he gets more obsessive; three, the woman gets pregnant; or four; she gets a bit demanding.

And she dies. Or, she must die. Either killed by somebody or herself.

In some cases the politicians or those who commit the crime on their behalf gets chased down by law, but they keep subverting it.

Interestingly, the politicians are not the A-listers who enjoy their politics even while indulging in corruption and criminality on the side. Instead, most of them are the B-listers, who are primarily operators and crony-businessmen, who dabble in politics to further their interests. They operate on the periphery and have a lot of numerical value in today’s fragmented electoral verdicts.

Geetika Sharma’s suicide note betrays the helplessness of a 23 year old upwardly mobile middle class girl whose only mistake was joining a company that was run by a Haryana minister who allegedly had his eyes on her. Her words in fact clearly show that she had fallen into a ruinous trap from which there was no escape. Reportedly, she tried to wriggle out of his grip, went to Dubai and joined another company, but the man wouldn’t leave her. He just pursued her obsessively and when things didn’t work out, started targeting the family.

Fiza Mohammed’s maggot-infested, four day old body, was another symbol of the same public immorality of our politicians. In this case, a former deputy chief minister of the same state of Haryana. The man also had a family, but left them and even became a Muslim to marry her. Finally, he went back to his family, leaving the other woman in the lurch. She tried everything to keep afloat and even spite him, but failed and was finally found dead with half a bottle of whisky and a packet of cigarettes next to her.

Before Geetika and Fiza, there was Shehla Masood in Bhopal, Madhumita Shukla and Shashi Prasad in Lucknow, and the sensational Bhanwari Devi in Jodhpur.

Sheila Masood, a well-known RTI activist was allegedly caught in a love triangle with a middle-aged BJP MP and another women, and got killed by the other woman. The lurid stories of obsession of the other woman and the official favours that both received from the BJP MP made to magazine covers.

Madhumita, an aspiring poet, was close to a minister of Mayawati cabinet whose wife allegedly got her killed. She was allegedly pregnant with the minister’s child. Shashi Prasad also was involved with a minster of the Mayawati cabinet and was in a similar situation (pregnant and demanding) when he allegedly got her killed. Bhanwari’s was a slightly unusual story of attempted deceit that cost her life.

It might sound too flippant if one suggests that women should be careful in their association with politicians, even if it means seeking employment in companies run by them directly or with cronies. They should also be watchful of businessmen who go blue-chip overnight.

If one takes favours from them, it’s as good as, or worse than film actresses falling for underworld criminals. One should be happy if they end up in a cold Lisbon jail than a morgue in Lucknow or Delhi.