Sunday, 28 April 2013

Nirbhaya, Gudiya ……… what are we doing to arrest a possible next?

After Nirbhaya, we have now had a Gudiya. God forbid there is then a Muniya and a Bitiya, or even a Munna and a Babloo. Let us have correct accountability and responsibility towards the rape cases.

There was a strong public reaction in December last year and a few leaders / politicians including our Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh said that they empathise. And reacting to the Gudiya outpourings by the common man – or rather the common women – Shri Neeraj Kumar, Delhi Police Commissioner also felt that it was a perception only that women did not feel safe in Delhi. My simple question to all of them is – how many times in the last say one year have young women and girls of their family travelled out on the roads after 8 pm - without any police or other escort? Are they willing to take up a challenge – let them ask a young girl of their family to go out and then ask her to travel back alone about 20kms on public transport – then let them get her (and her mother’s) perception of whether she felt safe. Only then can we have the beginnings of anything like empathy.

Then, as now, there has been a huge hue and cry with the public demanding the scalps of the Chief Minister of Delhi, the Home Minister, the Commissioner of Police et al. The Department of Internal Security, Ministry of Home Affairs deals with police, law and order and rehabilitation in the country. It is  headed by a Special Secretary who in turn reports to the Home Secretary. ( ). I keep wondering – why is no one asking for elucidations from Shri R.K.Singh the Home Secretary and from Shri S. Jayaraman, the Spl. Secretary (Internal Security) and also what they are getting done through their counterparts in all the States -after all, these cases have happened during their tenure. The bureaucrats of our country such as those belonging to the Indian Administrative Services, have tremendous power in the government but rarely, if ever, are called into accountability. Their cadre is extremely strong and if they are made to feel vulnerable and answerable to the public, a lot of change can come about in India on a “fast track” basis. Also, the responsibility of law making is of our legislators’ viz. our politicians. For rape cases, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 has been passed by both Houses and signed by the President. Once a law has been made, the responsibility of execution gets passed on to the government officials – in this matter headed by the Home Secretary. Can we not shake him / them up to get results?

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Saturday hinted that there may be a shake-up at the topmost levels in the Delhi Police – shockingly not because the police again showed resistance in registering the FIR but in the wake of recent incidents, including protesters entering his house and their conduct against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. ( If the Home Minister can feel outraged because of people entering his house – which is merely a physical object - imagine the feelings of the girls who are themselves violated. But the priorities of Shri Shinde are clearly different.

The objective of the Delhi Police, inter-alia is to - Uphold the law fairly and firmly; To prevent crime; to pursue and bring to justice Those who break the law …. And to be seen to do all this With integrity, common sense and sound judgment. ( While in these cases the police have certainly acted with promptitude to arrest the culprits they seem to have given dilution to their objective “To prevent crime”. And what about ”to be seen to do all this” The Police Commissioner felt that things had improved in the last few months as more cases were now being registered. ( He felt that this showed that the police are now more easily registering cases. But on what basis did he rule out other possible reasons – the surge could equally be because families are now increasingly coming forward to register the cases – or even because the number of cases has actually gone up?

The Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit was quite comfortable saying that in the case of Delhi, the Police does not report to her but to the Centre. While saying this why did she not cover the aspect that the Centre is governed by her very own party – if she could not convince her own party, what moral obligation or failure did she feel? And even if we had a different party at the Centre, was it not her responsibility to convince the Centre – or die doing so? Obviously she has not felt the problem as important enough.

 Jawahar Lal Nehru  suggested and got created Zonal Advisory Councils "to develop the habit of cooperative working” and “to create healthy inter-State and Centre-State environment with a view to solving inter-State problems” ( This could be used to resolve this Centre-State issue where Shiela Dikshit feels her inability in respect of the Police - The Northern Zonal Council (of which Delhi is a member) has not met after 25.10.2005 i.e. for over seven years now. Apparently none of the Zonal Councils have met after 12.02.2007 - even thoughas late as for the financial year 2010-11 it even got a budget sanctioned. The Secretariat is functioning under administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs. Bureaucrats are Advisors of the Zonal Council. So once again – what are our bureaucrats doing in this matter?

The answer to the problem that is now in the eyes of the public is neither simple nor single. While the reaction from the public has been strong in Delhi, as the Home Minister has pointed out, such instances are happening elsewhere too. A multi-pronged approach is essential for both short term and long term goals. To suggest a few steps, we need to have:

  1. Studies to ascertain some patterns and some causes, and the various steps taken to address the problem. This could be State wise since literacy levels, demographic patterns and impact of local pressures may vary significantly. 
  2. Studies may be undertaken to prepare profiles of the victims and of the perpetrators. 
  3. NGOs could get involved in obtaining feedback on the experiences of the victims and their families in registering the FIRs, in recording the statement of the traumatised and in getting treatment in hospitals.
  4. All political parties may take strong action against any of their party-persons making derogatory remarks. 
  5. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha (and equivalent counterparts in the States) may decide how they would treat errant MPs and MLAs. MLAs may involve Zila Parishads, sarpanchs and the panchayats in their areas for creating a social impact. 
  6. The Ministry of Human Resource Development may take steps so that all teachers across the country give repeated talks on the dignity of the individual; the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare may do this through NGOs. 
  7. While the cases are yet to be proved, the alleged perpetrators in the case of Gudiya were found to belong to villages or have strong familial links in other states. Is this a chance situation or are they migrant population with no steady base? 
  8. There have been a lot of discussions on the punishment to be awarded to rapists / brutal rapists. It must be remembered that the person who has been raped suffers not just physical and mental trauma, but for the rest of her life, and through no fault of hers she would also suffer negative attention or even ridicule from society at large. A quid pro quo would require the perpetrator to face not just physical and mental suffering, but also society’s ridicule for the rest of his life – a public castration would perhaps met this requirement with the added advantage that hardly any man would be willing to have some hours of “enjoyment” if he is to deprived of his manhood forever. 
The above are just a few suggestions; the great minds in our country could come up with several more ideas, all of which must be tried concurrently. But for this to happen we need leadership.

If only we had a strong and caring Prime Minister, Home Minister, Home Secretary and Special Secretary, Internal Security in the Union Government (and their counter parts in the States). Or even anyone of them being strong and really really concerned,

(An excellent post on this issue appears  on a blog : Another I liked is available here - do read these to get different perspectives and thoughts)