Monday, May 07, 2007

Article - Nithari Nightmare

Dissecting the Nithari nightmare…
(Disgrace to mankind)

Two men in the limelight for the worst, unimaginable reasons -- held responsible for the gruesome treatment meted out to more than a dozen children; A successful businessman and his domestic help are the prime accused in the case of sexual assault and serial killings in Noida, UP - a case that appalled the nation with acts of bone-chilling magnitude.

What could possibly instigate a person of indeed any strata of society to indulge in acts of such depravity? What makes him so heartless and remorseless? The human psyche being as complex as it is, there may be more than just one plausible explanation for these grisly acts.

“They are most likely driven by personal motives”, says Dr. N. Rangarajan a prominent psychiatrist based in Chennai. It is as simple as that. However, don’t serial killers operate alone? “Not necessarily,” says Dr. Rangarajan. “In this case, it is probably coincidence, where an ordinary employer-employee relationship developed into a mutually beneficial one. The affluent one with the power and confidence to blatantly express himself, and the other, also with poor scruples and a dark side to match his master’s, and who got the chance to find a dangerous outlet”.

He further added that they may not even be “mentally ill” per se although they have certainly not developed through life in a good, clean, wholesome way. They probably grew up with some dark ideas during their formative years. “Follow the trail back and you will find at least some mild deviations at least, from normal behaviour -- age-appropriate psychopathic behaviour, showing their disregard for society and its values. You will find that some acceptable rules in society have indeed been breached,” he says, which may not even have been, as opposed to popular belief, an outcome of having suffered abuse as children themselves.

Further, as Dr. Rangarajan interestingly put it, all of us have some errant episodes in our behavioural patterns as well – those that prompt us to commit certain one-off deeds like jumping a red traffic signal or even something as simple as speeding onto the wrong side of a one-way street knowing the repercussions fully well. However, when this “erratic behaviour” becomes an enduring pattern, it is time to turn yourself in…for a clean sweep of your mind and psyche!

On a basic level, the relevant issue to contend with here is child abuse. Most of us, especially parents of young children today, are painfully aware of it, but how do we protect our children from these sinister paedophiles? Apparently, it is more complicated than just being wary of the “local” types – shabbily dressed individuals and the like.

What we are looking for is a typical “next-door-neighbour” persona, shockingly enough. Dr. Rangarajan suggests you be wary of anybody who makes extra efforts to worm him or herself into your good books, offering to baby-sit your child or indeed any kindness extended out of the way by anybody. A trusted servant, a relative, well-known benign-looking “uncles” showing any undue interest in your child or bringing special gifts to make good impressions should ring warning bells. Contrary to general belief, both men and women are equally prone to being child abusers.

Nevertheless even in this tainted world, there are indeed people who are genuine with no ulterior motives whatsoever other than a real appreciation and enjoyment of children in all their innocence.

Parents have to be aware and take precautions; that’s it. It is inevitable that the child will travel by vans, autos, buses and even carpools with just the drivers. What you could do is to perhaps never sit the child alone with the driver in the front and conduct random, regular checks on their travel to schools and back, all in an attempt to avoid such situations from arising, as the perpetrator if any will then know people are aware, and watching out for their children.

Teach your children from as young an age as possible, to never talk or interact with strangers, never to leave school or other premises with anyone – even a known person, unless there is proper authorization and the teacher’s permission.

A tough job for parents, because you don’t want to go messing up your children’s innocence and childhood in all this business of teaching them about boundaries and limits.

As for the Nithari killings, it seems impossible that the law will find a punishment strong enough for these monsters …one that is appeasing to the families of the hapless victims and to this outraged nation.

Sujata Tarakesan.

Dr. N. Rangarajan graduated from Madras Medical College (M.B.B.S) and did his PG in Psychiatry from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore. He also trained in the UK before returning to Chennai in 1993. He is now Consultant Psychiatrist at Malar Hospitals, Chennai.

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