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Jan 06, 2013 at 06:38pm IST

Delhi gangrape: Time to look within ourselves?

New Delhi: It is an inescapable irony. Even though thousands braved freezing temperatures, teargas and lathicharge, demanding justice for the 23-year-old Delhi braveheart, not a single passerby had stopped to help her and her male friend, as they lay bleeding on the road on that cold winter night of December 16.

Her friend, in an exclusive interview to Zee News, recalled that no one bothered to lend a helping hand to them as they lay there for 25 minutes.

The apathy and the indifference in India's national capital was highlighted once again. Activist Kiran Bedi blamed it on a "drought of humanity". "There is a drought of humanity. We are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, but there is a drought of humanity in my country."

A young woman said, "It's really, really pathetic. She was lying there brutally attacked. Nobody even bothered, not even police. Police is supposed to serve the public."

A beleagured political class and a defensive Delhi Police under attack from its citizens, but what prevented the passersby from responding to the unfolding crisis on the night of December 16? Was it indifference or was it fear?

People say that it's fear, "fear of investigation, registering FIR, continuous questioning".

The tragedy of the horrific gangrape has galvanised the aam aadmi to call for a systemic change. However, what we also need is "a societal change now", as one resident puts it.

What else can explain the fact that the basic human instict to help and reach out to someone in pain was smothered on that cold night? While it is convenient to blame the police and the political class, perhaps it is also time to look within. Have we as a people come to care only for ourselves?