In Dec, 2012 a girl went out with her friend to watch a movie. She did not return home. She was found under a flyover raped, brutalized, disemboweled and barely alive. It came out that five men and a boy had lured the couple in a bus, assaulted and raped them. Outraged nation protested. There was debate on television. Government enacted anti-rape law, some said a pathbreaking tough law. Government promised a fast track court. More than eight months have passed since brutalization of the girl, court has not yet passed judgement. If this fast track, we can imagine what is regular and slow track. No wonder most people do not want to go to court. The verdict of Delhi case is not yet out, when another girl was raped in Mumbai while she was attending her duty.
One of the most brutal of the Delhi attackers happened to be less than six month before he turned adult. Child rights activists argued that the juvenile attacker has to be treated like a child. Direct consequence, he will get maximum of three years, if convicted. Remember, this is the person responsible for disemboweling the victim. In other mature and civilized democracies, a criminal is judged on the crime and its magnitude, and not by age of the criminal. If a person is adult enough to commit an adult crime, yet he can take refuge behind a provision of law where he should be treated as a juvenile inspite of committing most heinous crime. It this is not travesty of justice what is?
After Delhi brutalization, many rapes have happened. A minor girl had glass bottle inserted in her private part as part of being raped. Army personnel rape women in the name of national security. A police woman was gang raped while bringing body of her dead brother-in-law home. Several, foreign nationals have been raped in different parts of India. A Swiss national was raped in Madhya Pradesh, while touring India with her husband. A British woman had to jump out of hotel window on being attacked. Most recently, a photo journalist was gang raped in Mumbai, by five people. These are high profile cases, that come to mind. Countless women are being raped, assaulted, brutalized everyday. We have not even broached the topic of acid attack on women.
There are many explanation for social turmoil that we see all over in India. Social barriers are breaking down. More and more women are coming out and going to work. It is not possible to put a police after every woman that goes out. However, it is possible to improve policing. It emerged that in Maharastra state, out of 47000 police men, only 23000, less than 50%, are available to serve common public. Rest, serve our political leaders and important people. It is our money, but we have no say how our lives can be made secure. Same is the story all over India. Police only serves political masters, read ruling party. Common people comes very low down in police’s priority. In stead of preventive policing as we see in US or UK, our police comes only after crime has happened. I think large scale police reform is the dire need. Because, our politicians use police as their personal militia to suppress inconvenient people or issue, they do not want to give up control over police. Recommendation of police reform is gathering dust. I think police must be given autonomy, so that police commissioner of city / state can be held accountable for police performance and removed as and when needed. Police boss should create his budget, bring right people at right place and run a modern educated force.
Our justice delivery needs to be speeded up. If a fast track judgement cannot be delivered in eight months, what can we expect for cases in slow track. Why does powers that be not create more courts, bring more judges and settle cases fast? It is important that India must follow constitution. However, we need to come down from the high horse of idealism. Many people that are coming to big cities and small towns, do not subscribe same degree of idealism, attachment and awareness to constitution. Otherwise, not one will insert a bottle in the private part of a five year old girl. Unless a serious punishment is meted out to these criminals in a speedy manner, it beats the purpose. We always have debates about death penalty everytime a grotesque crime happens. However, I think certainty of punishment is more important than death sentence. It is also important to realise that a person losing his / her life and liberty for life can be more unbearable compared to one time loss of life.
At times, it appears that general public is so helpless. We cannot do anything once we have elected our ruling party. Many of our leaders themselves have rape charge against them. Yet, in worlds biggest democracy, we cannot even recall our leaders. We have no say who our political parties field. If we want certain political party to rule at the centre, we may be forced to vote for their corrupt face in our constituency. I think we need to have a relook at our political system. Either we bring change in constitution to bring Presidential form of government. Where a president once elected, chooses his / her team. If this is not acceptable, then we must create smaller constituencies. We should be able to communicate and approach our representatives, and recall them if necessary.
Next general election is round the corner. Please use the opportunity to choose a decisive leader. I think in the name of democracy, India is slipping into anarchy. Our leaders are uncommunicative, indecisive and opportunistic. To remain in power, our politicians will do anything no matter how much detrimental those are for country’s health. Because of mollycoddling and poor enforcement of law and order, there is no respect for law. Everyone knows they can get away committing a crime. Time has come to elect a no nonsense leader, that has long term vision for the country, and administer this country with an iron fist.