EVEN as we have reports of President’s son Jangipur Abhijit Mukherjee having made sexist comments that it is fashionable for ‘dented-painted women (sic)’ to attend protest march, there was another gang rape of a 41-year-old woman in Delhi on Wednesday night which added to the surging anger around the country. It is undeniable that a corrupt, arrogant and ineffective government at the Centre only made it difficult to assuage the feelings of millions of Indians in smaller towns and villages. State chief ministers like Prithivraj Chavan (Maharashtra) meanwhile made valiant efforts to introduce new laws and regulations to stop the rape-every-three-minute record in the country.
Also, it is undeniable that if the rape of the 23-year old student in Delhi who has now been transferred to Singapore for ‘better treatment’, was not accompanied by violence which left her vital organs damaged, there might not have been this kind of public outrage.
Maharashtra shares the dubious distinction of the highest number of incest-rape cases registered in 2011 along with Rajasthan, according to the National Crime Record Bureau figures for 2011. In the same year 267 incest-rape cases were registered all over the country of which 43 were in Maharashtra and Rajasthan each. That would be a share of 15.3 per cent. And among the 43 cases in Maharashtra, four were committed in Mumbai.
Now Maharashtra chief minister Prithivraj Chavan belatedly is trying hard to bring in some measures like setting up a committee to investigate incidents of rape in the State as a social menace. On the other hand, a new curriculum is reportedly being established for the police force to train young recruits on handling of rape case.
One particular reason for Maharashtra topping the list of incest-rape is also because more cases are being registered at the police station. Delay in rendering justice is also a fact of life for the rape victims. There are many gruesome rape cases in Maharashtra but the most striking one has been that of Nayana, an IT professional who was gang raped and killed three years ago. The main accused in the case escaped from Pune’s Sassoon hospital ostensibly with a little help from police. Though the police claim that they have set-up a special team to nab the fugitive – Yogesh Raut, there has been no progress in the matter, and the husband of the victim gave up his engineering job only to concentrate on the case. But it is getting nowhere. Unless thousands of people don’t gather at Jantar Mantar or outside Sonia Gandhi’s residence to press for action nothing seems to move in the police departments, be it Delhi, Mumbai, Pune or any other town.
More gruesome and violent the crime more the media coverage, but before long in majority of cases the rapist walks out a free man. In one such case which was etched in public memory was when a daughter accused her father and his tantrik guru of repeatedly raping her through nine years. It happened in 2009, but the acquittal of the accused last year shocked the people of the State over the investigation ability of the police and other agencies which are set-up to protect women. In June this year a local court acquitted a private airline pilot in a case where he was accused of raping a former air hostess in Mumbai in 2010. The court found not enough evidence of rape. Also during the same month the Mumbai High Court acquitted a man of rape charges after he had served five years rigorous imprisonment for “raping” his neighbour’s wife in Ulhasnagar. The High Court found the victim’s version and the case against him “improbable”.
It is in such circumstances that people are getting even more disillusioned with the prevalent systems. The law and order situation in states like Maharashtra can be as bad as Delhi — the police behaviour, their investigations and intention to take cases to logical conclusions remain so elusive.