Sunil Rastogi's 500 victims: What does the extent of his criminal behaviour tell us?

How does a father of five feel when he rapes girls younger than his daughters?

Why does a serial rapist start chanting mantras, ostensibly to invoke blessings of gods, every time he sets out to commit a crime against humanity and, perhaps, the very deity he worships?

And how does a paedophile go undetected for almost 15 years by cops of two states — Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand — and the capital of India?

Thinking about Sunil Rastogi, the 38-year-old tailor who was arrested in Delhi on Monday for allegedly raping dozens of girls, makes your skin crawl. Day after day, year after year, a man prowls the streets, stalks young girls, lures them into narrow alleys and deserted buildings and then disappears into the darkness with impunity. This happens not in some forsaken corner of mofussil India, but in Delhi, right under the nose of two governments.
Prima facie, Rastogi fits the stereotype of a crafty criminal, pervert and sexual deviant who thought luck was by his side and the powers above with him, all classical signs of a psychopath. He didn't seem to conform to any of the norms of civilisation or respect the conventional definitions of right and wrong, moral and immoral. And, ironically, he invoked god and believed in a string of superstitions and pre-crime rituals.

 Sunil Rastogis 500 victims: What does the extent of his criminal behaviour tell us?

Representational image. Reuters

A criminal with a convoluted feeling of being entitled to his prey, blessed by good luck and without an iota of remorse is like a beast. He strikes not out of vengeance, for self-preservation or in a weak moment of lust or greed. He commits a crime because that has become the sole purpose of his life, his 'raison d'être'.

Rastogi was like a predator hunting in the urban jungle. He was having fun, believed in his invincibility, had no fear of the law or consequences of his actions. The only way to stop him was to notice his presence, his string of crimes and hunt him down. Unfortunately, if his confession is an indicator, nobody saw this paedophile for almost 15 years.

And, when he finally got caught, it wasn't because cops were looking for him. He fell into their hands because, as Rastogi claimed, he ran out of luck when two girls escaped his net and their parents went to the police. What does this tell us about our police, criminal justice system and society?

Did none of the "hundreds" of victims (or their parents) of this creepy tailor ever go to the police after they were abducted and raped? Did all his victims stay silent, preferring to suffer in silence than report about the crime? It is understandable that many of his victims were too young to grasp the magnitude of Rastogi's crimes. It is also possible that some parents may have preferred to remain silent and not approach the cops. But, how is it that so many rapes of young girls from just a few localities — he reportedly hunted primarily in Ashok Nagar — go unreported? Or is this another instance of the incompetence of cops, helplessness of rape victims and our inability to spot beasts among us?

Of course, nothing about Delhi or NCR surprises us anymore. A decade ago, the entire country was shocked by the Nithari murders, where a psychopath not just killed with impunity, but also buried remains of his victims in the middle of a busy, urban area of Noida. Back then too, nobody seemed to have noticed a string of murders and disappearances right from under the nose of cops.

But, initial reports indicate that unlike Surinder Koli, the butcher of Nithari, the tailor of Rudrapur/Rampur had a history. He was reportedly hounded out of Delhi in 2004 after sexually attacking a girl, arrested (and later released) for allegedly molesting a girl in his hometown and had several other cases pending against him. So, Rastogi was definitely on the radar. Yet he managed to slip under it without fear and rape dozens of young girls for years.

Think about this: If the law, luck and — as Rastogi claims — divine blessings are by a paedophile's side, how safe are our streets?

Updated Date: Jan 16, 2017 16:24:06 IST