Sharing Is Not Caring

Youth stabbed to death in a busy street, as people were recording it live

On Wednesday, 22 June, a man was beaten and stabbed to death in a busy street of Karnataka, while his friends were trying to help him escape out of the beating. However nobody except them came forward to help him. Infact, majority of the bystanders who have witnessed the event were recording it on their cell phone! (Hello? The man is being killed in front of your eyes, did you notice that?). But why was he brutalized to this extent?  At 4.30 pm yesterday, a man identified as Dhanush by the local police in Hassan, 185 kms from Bengaluru, was allegedly staring at a young woman at a bus stop when two men took the offense and got into a verbal quarrel with him. Following which, Dhanush had called his brother and two friends for help and a fight broke out between these two groups. Then, Dhanush's brother, Sudeep, was stabbed. On camera, he can be seen bleeding profusely.  At the bus stop nearby, people stand and watched, but nobody came to help or make the situation under control, as reported. Senior police officer Rahul Kumar told NDTV that the attack stopped only when a police team arrived."A case was registered yesterday and five of them have been booked and arrested," he said. It may sound legit to the soul of a feminist, that the man had deserved it, but without proper evidence and no legitimate right to take law and end someone’s life, the act is no less than a crime.

Dying hopes on Humanity

Many of such incidents have shattered the hopes on humanity and raised the questions on insensitivity of the onlookers. A similar case had occurred two years back, when a 19-year-old laborer was allegedly stabbed to death by a man in a busy market in Southeast Delhi’s Dakshinpuri area, in the day light. According to police, the victim, Raju Pandey, had gone to the market for lunch when he reportedly entered into a scuffle with the accused named, Ashu, over money. The argument took an ugly turn when Ashu had allegedly taken out a knife and stabbed Raju, a police officer had reported. Moreover, police said that an onlooker recorded a video of Raju lying in a pool of blood instead of rushing him to the hospital. The video showed Raju lying on the road shouting for help as people stood around looking at him bleeding.

“The family of the deceased alleged that the onlookers let their son bleed to death. They said no one rushed him to the hospital. Instead they were recording a video. They waited for the PCR van to reach and rush him to the hospital,” a police officer said.

A man is stabbed to death, road rages, catastrophic accidents, woman being harassed, elderly couple being abused, animals physically tortured, a foreign tourist stabbed to death or students falling prey to racism being physically abused etc are few of the categories of such recorded videos which went viral online when the proud onlookers had unashamedly done this act of timidity and insensitivity.

Reasons for Ignorance 

 All these incidents only raise one question, as to what makes the people so insensitive to such brutality. The foremost reasons are

Gaining Popularity and thus easy money-making idea, as the news channels most likely desire to have such live videos to showcase on their media channels, exclusively to catch thousands of eyes. Also, by simply putting the video online on social media platforms and YouTube and thus earn themselves with some credit and an ‘intangible’ boost with the number of  likes and comments on the posted videos, with millions watching the video, encourage this imbecile outlook.

Reluctance to help the victim, is usually common among the eye-witnesses, mostly because of they think that they might get involved in investigation related to the accident and as a consequence of which, they will be questioned unnecessarily from the authorities implying a huge wastage of time and energy which they could have devoted to their work and busy –ongoing lives. Also the lay back attitude of relying on others to help the sufferer often ends with no one extending their helping hand towards him.

Why should I help’ attitude is quite common among those who stop by for some time and when the ‘show’ is over they move ahead with their work. People are too cold to show their pity or sympathy towards such misfortune, rather they just add to the hordes of casual onlookers watching the pandemonium and then move ahead, acknowledging their heads with the grief towards the rising intolerance in the country.

Ineffective implementation of Samaritan Law, which offerslegal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are, or who they believe to be, injured, ill, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated, is largely not implemented in India. Often, they are subject to ill-treatment and tedious question-answer sessions held under police custody which makes them unwilling to redo such noble cause again. 

Bringing about a Change

Fortunately, The Good Samaritan Law has been only recently being approved by the Supreme Court (w.e.f. 30 may 2016) issuing guidelines by the Centre for the protection of Good Samaritans at the hands of the police or any other authority.

Some of its benefiting guidelines, as mentioned, are:

  1. The Good Samaritan will be treated respectfully and without any discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality and caste.
  2. Any individual, except an eyewitness, who calls the police to inform them of an accidental injury or death need not reveal his or her personal details such as full name, address or phone number.
  3. The police will not compel the Good Samaritan to disclose his or her name, identity, address and other such details in the police record form or log register.
  4. The police will not force any Good Samaritan in procuring information or anything else.

Hopefully, this shall encourage the onlookers to come forward and help the ones suffering without fearing to invite troubles to them.

Such reluctance and shamelessness by both the onlookers and the local authorities has to be dealt with sternly. As, nearly 50 % of the road accident victims and those who die due to a quarrels held in public areas is due to the negligence of those who were present at the ‘blood’-y sight. On the part of the victims, to help themselves, by seeking aid from the onlookers, they should understand the ‘Bystander effect ‘and point at someone to help them. The game of ‘pin-pointing; will make the onlooker feel responsible enough to help the one crying for it and come forward from the crowd.

Bystander’s Effect: The bystander effect, or bystander apathy, is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help. Several variables help to explain why the bystander effect occurs. These variables include: ambiguity, cohesiveness and diffusion of responsibility. (This is what happens in most of the busy streets of India, too many eyes, but no hands)