Somnath Bharti, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA from Malviya Nagar constituency and an Ex-Law Minister of Delhi Government, has been in the news recently for the alleged charges of domestic violence by his wife Lipika Mitra. The charges are serious and the National Women Commission has intervened. Somnath Bharti’s wife has spoken in front of various media houses in the last week regarding the domestic violence she faced in her marriage. The charges include that Bharti had been beating the wife for years and they both started living in isolation because of this. Lipika has also said that Bharti once left his dog to bite her when she was pregnant. Bharti had also spoken lies about his income whilst married, the charges say.
Somnath Bharti shot to fame when he first carried out a raid on an alleged sex racket in Khidki Extension area of Malviya Nagar in Delhi. He was highly criticized for the act- because the raid was carried out with AAP supporters and Delhi Police was not taken into consideration. Later AAP had to apologise because of this and it brought forward the insensitiveness of AAP towards women’s security. There were no concrete proof that the Nigerian women whom Bharti had alleged charges for prostitution were running a sex racket. It also brought criticism from the Nigerian embassy.
Insensitiveness towards women and women’ issues is a reality we all are living with. Domestic violence cannot be seen in isolation, but must be seen as a part of the narrative which talks about the systemic failure of society to ensure that women live with dignity inside a marriage. But sadly this is not true. If Lipika has to be believed, then this incident breaks the widespread myth that domestic violence is limited to the lower classes of the Indian society. Somnath Bharti is a well-known lawyer, has studied at Faculty of Law, Delhi University and also at IIT Delhi, pursuing Masters in Science (M.Sc), one of the most prestigious institutions in India and also in Asia. He has been president of IIT Delhi alumni association in the past. The myth that people from a particular institution, profession and economic class are better than rest of the people has no basis to support itself. In the past we have come across cases where a man from IIT Delhi has thrown acid on a female colleague. This myth needs to be erased from public memory because these are the basis of arranged marriages in many Indian families.
The present incident needs police investigation and it is too early for us to come to any conclusion based on allegations. But this must be a time to bring our attention to the issue of domestic violence in India, which is avoided from public debate. Statistics show (STATISTICS) that there have been many suicide cases of wives due to domestic violence. Dowry is a common reason for domestic violence in North India.
We may talk about economic development of India on world forums, but until unless half of the population feels insecure in our societies, and is subjected to violence and torture, India can never develop in true sense.
This article was first published on LokMarg.com on June 15, 2015