Guys! Listen to me carefully, this is huge, this is important," a petite girl stood in the middle of the cafeteria and announced to the students who lazily ate their breakfast.
While she struggled to remove her left paw, a second trap which was possibly triggered from somewhere above came from nowhere and mutilated the tigress’s right leg with her flesh and bones protruding and blood oozing from it.
Sam looked up, stared at her briefly and continued eating. A few volunteers distributed leaflets to everyone assembled and a copy landed on his table.
“TIGRESS SKINNED ALIVE," the headline handwritten on the leaflet screamed for attention.
“A tigress was skinned alive and the merciless monsters had the audacity to film the barbarism and upload the video on Youtube," she said angrily.
“Please give me five minutes; I would like to narrate what I saw on this video," she pleaded, “Yes?"
“A large Bengal tiger is drawn towards a dead deer; the smell of its blood lured her. The kill was fresh, died not long ago. She pauses briefly unsure of how to proceed. She stays, scans the neighbourhood for suspicious signs but after few minutes she walks towards the deer. A tiger always inspects the prey with its paw first, so it tries to claw the deer and extends its fore leg. A crude ‘L’ shaped iron trap normally called ‘khatka’ comes from nowhere and locks her paw. She roars in pain and tries to wriggle away with all her might."
“I could hear the poacher’s excitement and victorious chuckles from the video now," the speaker bit her teeth in anger.
“While she struggled to remove her left paw, a second trap which was possibly triggered from somewhere above came from nowhere and mutilated the tigress’s right leg with her flesh and bones protruding and blood oozing from it."
The cafeteria was dead silent. A few were already sobbing.
“Out of nowhere two poachers jump on to her from a tree top and delivered a devastating blow with an iron spade on her head that rendered her unconscious. They drove sharp ‘s’ shaped hooks through both her jaws pulling them away vertically which helped them to get a fine cut of the skin and they began to skin her slowly. I saw her stomach and rear legs shivering. What if someone skinned you slowly while you were still breathing? I just can’t even imagine the pain and suffering she would have gone through. They then used daggers to skin the rest of the body and they were quicker when compared to the head and all the while blood oozed in small tiny droplets from the pale white exposed skin. After an hour of struggle the tigress gave up," the speaker paused for a moment,
“Apparently a gunshot mark reduces the price of the tiger skin by almost half. Also, skinning the tiger while it was still alive ensured that the skin did not lose its glow because of decomposition. By doing so, poachers got nearly Rs 1 lakh for such skin," she continued.
“The video is available on the Internet and the comments by some users on the page make me sick."
“Now what would you do if we catch these poachers?" she asked her audience.
“Skin him alive," “Hang him," “Stone him in public," “Tie them up and let the tigers feast on them."
“Alright, alright. I share your anger and pain, but the criminals have not been caught yet. Now this is what we plan to do. We should pressurise the government and forest officials to catch the poachers on a war footing. We are planning to hold a rally towards the Chief Minister’s office. We are speaking to students from other colleges to join the protest. We need maximum support from you guys," she said and soon she was mobbed by lot of students who wanted to volunteer.
Sam stared into the crowd nervous and disturbed. He stayed at his table and did not approach the crowd.
“How could he do this to her? If I had the power, I would chop off his body parts slowly till he bleeds to death. He needs to suffer the way she suffered," said a girl who passed by him.
A sudden deep paranoia struck him. He did not know why he panicked, “are they talking about me? I did not do anything," he wondered and clumsily picked up his back pack and tried getting out.
“Hey Sam, how are you? I have been looking for you everywhere," said Charu who appeared before him from nowhere.
Sam froze at the sight of Charu, sweat poured out of all his pores.
“Sam are you okay?" Charu asked, “why are you staring at me like you saw a ghost?"
“I am fine," he said and made a dash to the door.
“Sam stop. I need some advice," Charu ran behind him.
“What is it? I don’t have much time," Sam sounded dismissive.
After a brief pause Charu said, “hey what’s wrong with you dude? Can you not sit for two minutes? I have something important to discuss with you."
Sam stopped near his car and waited for her to ask.
“Sam, I have been cyber bullied by someone who is driving me nuts. Lately it has become ugly and scary. He sent some dirty pictures of himself and now it looks like he has been stalking me and taking pictures of me from close quarters. I do not know who this person is, as there is no number. You are the only geek I know. Can you help me track him?" she said and gave the phone to him.
His eyes smiled mischievously, “phew! She does not know," he mind voiced quite relieved, “what happened? Give me details."
A sudden deep paranoia struck him. He did not know why he panicked, “are they talking about me? I did not do anything.
Charu stared into his eyes briefly, “his eyes are lying, and I don’t trust him. I am convinced that he is hiding something from me. Is he doing this?" she spoke to herself.
“Hey do you want me to help or what?" Sam interrupted her thinking.
“Yes, I remember you telling me about some app that you were creating right? How is it going?" she asked.
“Why, why are you asking about that," he shot back nervously.
“I was wondering if someone could create an app like that and hack into another person’s phone," she persisted.
“I don’t like your line of questioning, I think I better go. Seems like you don’t need any help," he replied defensively.
“Why are you running away Sam? I am just sharing my concerns, isn’t it selfish that you don’t want to help a friend that you claimed to have loved not long ago?" Charu asked.
“I am sorry," he replied quickly and slipped into his car.
“Maybe he is just still angry at my rants on Facebook. I should have been just quiet, or just written in my journal," she wondered.
“I can be a damn fool sometimes," she protested in a low voice.
“So which fool are we discussing now?" said Mani who appeared in front of her suddenly.
“You look disoriented again, is everything okay? Wasn’t the tiger story very disturbing? I cried," Hari joined the conversation.
“No I wasn’t there. I just came," said Charu.
Charu showed the photo and the message that she received last night. She also narrated the moments of panic and fear that she went through.
“Why is it that I feel so safe in the company of you both? I am now scared of any boy, but not you guys."
“I don’t know Mani; I am so tired and confused now. I have no energy; I am not able to focus on studies. Actually men give me the chills. I am petrified of being around them," she said.
Hari looked anxious and concerned, “not you my darling," she said and gave him a bear hug.
“Perhaps, we should get in touch with ‘Anonymous,’ they are like good Samaritans on the Internet, a network of amateur and pro hackers who help innocents who get cyber bullied or abused in the real world with no one to support them," said Hari.
“Tell me more," Charu asked.
“This incident happened two or three years ago in a town called Steubenville in Ohio, USA. In this town a boy’s football team called Big Red was hugely popular and apparently everyone loved the team. Businesses had shut down due to recession and employment opportunities had become far and few. The residents of the town lived and breathed the Big Red football team and attended every match that they participated in. Big Red won most of the games and this made the residents of the town proud. In a way the success of Big Red made them feel happy and hopeful of their lives which were gloomy otherwise."
“Given this background, the football players were treated as heroes and their excesses were always condoned. At one success party some of the footballers misbehaved with a girl who was drunk and had passed out. Two boys raped her while others took pictures and posted it on Twitter and Instagram. She was bundled into a car and taken to other parties and houses where she was repeatedly abused while she remained unconscious. One of them even encouraged curious onlookers to pee on her and tweeted about it and his tweet got favourited and retweeted by many. So through the night this girl was raped, molested and abused by two Big Red footballers and they vainly took photos and videos of their actions and posted it online," Hari said.
“The girl woke up in the morning without knowledge of what had happened the previous night, went home but later realized after she was alerted of the posts and tweets. She and her parents reported it to the police but it was difficult for the police to take action as the girl could not recall anything from that dreaded night. Their only evidence was the online material. The police tried hard to collect evidence or some eye-witnesses to speak against the Big Red boys but they only met with indifference. Some even mentioned that the girl had lied and she was someone with loose morals."
“The whole town turned against her and the family because they went against the jewel of the town. They taunted her, humiliated her and ostracised her."
“She could not bear the insult for long. She committed suicide by hanging herself from the ceiling of her bedroom."
“A local journalist who was keenly watching the episode took screenshots of the damning posts, photos, tweets and videos before they were deleted. She wrote to all national newspapers about the incident but nothing worthwhile came out of it. The town of Steubenville stood by their team. Out of desperation to find justice for the deceased girl the journalist approached ‘Anonymous’ a loose network of hackers from around the world for help. They are very active against rape culture and cyber bullying."
“Anonymous got into the action and in no time they hacked into the computers and mobile phones of all the accused boys and managed to get damning evidence. They then defaced the Big Red team’s website and posted a video wearing the famous ‘Guy Fawkes’ mask. In the video they gave an ultimatum to the footballers to come clean and surrender to the police within a week or run the risk that the videos and photos of their dalliances from that night would be exposed to the world."
“The entire town was flabbergasted with the turn of events. The footballers who were involved in the rape and abuse of the girl turned themselves on to the police and are facing a jail sentence today," said Hari and took a deep breather with a sense of accomplishment.
“Wow," both Mani and Charu joined in chorus.
“We should totally do this, what do you say Charu?" asked Hari.
“Absolutely, I want these guys’ asses kicked," agreed Charu.