Incidents of Aggression and Violence in Social Spaces of Gujarat
Newspaper Report (Scanned Copy)
Reason for Choosing the given report
The given report was published in the Times of India on October 6, 2018. The major motive behind choosing this particular article over the available others was that this was one incident was unnoticed from the realm of public eye for a long period of time and despite of being published in the national daily it didn’t catch public attention to the expected extent. Majority of the Indian population is aware of cases of rape and resultant violence and aggression in states like Delhi, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, but rarely does one encounter such sensitive issues being raised in cities like Gujarat. The misconception of Gujarat being a highly civilized and safe location amongst the other Indian cities and states needs to be removed permanently and the actual assessment of the safety and security parameters of the State need to be understood realistically. This report is a warning signal for all people possessing pre-conceived nations about Gujarat being one of the safest cities in India and its potential risk factors to both its native populations and the remaining world population need to be understood at the earliest.
Review and Analysis of Report
The newspaper report that has been used for analysis in the given review and analysis paper is that of a case of violence registered in Gujarat, where a 20-year old youth of Bihar state, allegedly raped a 14 month toddler near a factory in Sabarkantha, where he used to work as a migrant worker. Due to the afore mentioned occurrence of the rape of the infant by a non-resident worker, violence on an intensive large-scale parameter arose amongst a huge number of local Gujarati residents residing in different parts of Gujarat including Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Sabarkantha, Mehsana and Viramgam. Several factors contributed to the intensifying of the violence triggers on such a massive and unpredictable scale, one of which was identifying the vulnerability of the 14 month infant, who hadn’t even developed speech abilities to a considerable extent in order to resist and/or call out for any external aid of protection from the rapist.
Secondly, the rape was performed by a non-residing and non-native external individual of a different state in a state which provided for the nourishment and upliftment of his family by letting him work as a migrant laborer in the factory established near Dhundhar village in Himmatnagar, near Sabarkantha, Gujarat. Thirdly, after considering all the factors of the vulnerability of the infant and after analyzing the extent to which it could resist, the entire event was performed deliberately in a neighborhood which was at large remote and isolated, regardless of the establishment of a factory over there, in structure and didn’t possess a large number of inhabitants residing there to object or prevent the event from occurring in entirety substantially.
Based on the above identified three prominent and potential factors contributing to the occurrence of such ruthless acts of rape and sexual assault resulting in massive violent outbursts in different regions of the state targeting all non-resident populations as instruments of their aggression and violence, we would now analyze the entire incident and its forthcoming episodes, with reference to the General Aggression Model (GAM) proposed by Anderson and Bushman and the Excitation Transfer Theory proposed by Zillmann.
According to the general aggression theory, there are two major types of input variables which trigger overt aggression arising out of a chain of events. One major input variable refers to all the factors relating to the current situation i.e. situational factors and the second input variable refers to all the factors relating to the people involved i.e. person factors.
Possible variables falling into the first category include frustration, some kind of provocation from another person, for instance, an insult, exposure to other people behaving aggressively and any factor that contributes to a person experiencing discomfort can be eventually considered situational factors. In this instance, the situational factors to be considered while analyzing the anger outbursts and violent actions performed by a large group of Gujarati residents on other residing non-Gujaratis as objects of aggression and revenge taking are: 1) enduring an innocent infant to inhuman acts of rape, sexual assault and merciless killing, 2) audacity to perform such an act in a completely remote and isolated area devoid of human inhabitation permitting a sort of freedom to engage in any kind of behavior and action by eliminating all potential consequences of punishment and registration as an accused under the eyes of the law.
Possible variables falling into the second category include traits that predispose some individuals toward aggression like high irritability, certain attitudes and beliefs about violence like believing that it is acceptable and appropriate and a tendency to perceive hostile intentions in others’ behavior and specific skills related to aggression like knowing how to fight or how to use various weapons. In the given instance, there is definitely an observation of a presence of certain attitudes and beliefs about violence as by projecting their aggression on the specific non-native resident populations of low caste migrant laborers from other states of India such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh in order to take revenge of the alleged act of rape by a Bihari migrant laborer and also terrorize all resident non-native populations residing in Gujarat and forewarn them to not engage in any kind of unapproved, illegal and inhuman acts in the future. In this event of projecting violence on other non-native residents of Gujarat, the major intention was to seek revenge of the rape incident, to warn them and also terrorize them by punishing the entire population for a crime committed by a single member of the community and considering it as an appropriate and acceptable form of punishment for the entire group. Another factor that can be incorporated as a person factor in this instance is the knowledge of how to use the instrument of aggression and killing weapons as observed in the acts of the mob of 400 people which gathered to threaten and kill 100 non-Gujaratis residing in 20 rented flats near an industrial area and also attacks performed by a group of motorcycle riders on 10 migrant laborers near Vadnagar district of Gujarat. Certain inherent traits which predispose the individual to engage in aggression and violence include high levels of irritability, impulsivity and presence of negative biases towards a specific community or a group, generally lesser in population ratio than the population of which the concerned individual is a part of.
According to the General Aggression Theory, all these situational and individual variables lead to overt aggression as they impact three basic processes of arousal by increasing one’s excitement level, affective states as they can generate hostile feelings and outwards signs such as facial expressions and cognitions by inducing individuals to think hostile thoughts or by bringing beliefs and attitudes about aggression to mind. The amount of aggression induced by an individual externally in the situation depends on his/her individual appraisal of the current situation and restraining factors such as the presence of police or the threatening nature of the intended target person. By understanding these factors, they can either engage in thoughtful action by restraining their anger or impulsive action leading to overt aggressive actions. By understanding the general aggression model, one can also gain insights onto one’s schemas, beliefs, scripts relevant to aggression.
Thereby, by understanding the general aggression model, one can clearly understand here that all the Gujaratis who attacked the target populations of non-Gujarati migrant laborers of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh possess some inherent prejudice and biases towards those communities and in particular with them being of lower castes and working under them in their state and possessing the audacity to rape an innocent infant who is native of the same state. The incident of the rape performed on an infant by a non-native migrant laborer triggered their beliefs and schemas about aggression and consequently lead them engaging in displaying violence and aggression over the entire communities of non-native migrant laborers with their intrinsic traits of aggression and irritability also being highlighted publicly.
Another theory which we would be analyzing is the excitation transfer theory. According to this theory, because physiological arousal dissipates slowly, a portion of such arousal may persist as a person moves from one situation to another.
In this instance, while considering the violent and aggressive Gujaratis becoming violent towards all non-Gujarati migrant labourers, one factor we can consider is that they might as well have experienced a certain level of arousal related to an earlier event such as they might have had a bad day at work or their boss might have blamed them for a task which they couldn’t complete on time or they might have had a tussle over the family with any particular family member, because of which they might already be agitated and irritated and then they would encounter any particular non-Gujarati migrant labourer on their way home, who would interrupt their driving or cause discomfort to them in some or the other manner and because of their initial aroused state and then upon acquiring knowledge about the rape incident, their aggression would intensify and that heightened arousal might possibly have contributed to them becoming aggressive and violent towards any given non-Gujarati migrant labourer they encountered.
Based on the general aggression model and excitation transfer theory, one can infer that the target population of non-Gujarati migrant laborers residing in Gujarat in order to earn a living endured massive violence and aggression due to person factors such as presence of inherent traits like high irritability, impulsivity, lack of restraint to control anger, knowledge to use killing weapons, situational factors such as provocation by action of the concerned individual who performed, frustration on the individual, thereby exhibited on the entire community by generalization and experiencing disrespectful treatment by empathizing with the fellow population all together led to the display of excessive violence and aggression on the communities of non-migrant laborers of Gujarat, resulting in them fleeing away from their rented apartments and residence locations and returning to their native residences, by either hoarding into buses or simply running away by roads in huge amounts.
Recommendations and Action Points to Reduce Incidence of Violence
- One major concern in this entire incident is that of provocation and frustration, which triggered aggression resulting into violence towards the non-migrant laborer populations. There should be an early identification of individuals at risk such as those who might get influenced and affected easily by even hearing about illegal and unlawful acts of rape being performed in their own vicinity
- After identifying such highly irritable and impulsive individuals, timely intervention of therapy and counselling should be ensured to understand their basic beliefs, thoughts, ideologies and schemas which guide such intense behavioral reactions in them.
- Such individuals should have that one belief in their mind that they can vocalize and share their thoughts and opinions about ongoing issues to their peers, family members and any individual they consider as significant in their life.
- By vocalizing, their frustration and aggression would be vented out through verbal expression and they might calm themselves down by sharing their thoughts regularly.
- Minority populations residing in neighborhoods which are not native to them, should be provided special protection under the Indian laws, especially that of police protection whenever required in order to make them rest assured about their well-being and health in their chosen neighborhood.
- Amongst the minorities, especially of those which are the most vulnerable to aggression and violence such as underprivileged classes of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should be identified and given adequate protection from potential threats and dangers.
- Police stations need to be stationed in areas where factories are established as generally in such areas, crimes are inevitable due to absence of people and control forces of police and military.
- Regular patrolling and security checks need to be conducted in areas of commercial and industrial establishment to keep a track of the crime rates and identifying criminals spontaneously.
- Arousal, however intense it should be, needs to be identified appropriately before projecting it any forthcoming episodes which can potentially terrorize other groups or individuals.