Chandigarh, December 6
In 2018, India was ranked first as the most dangerous country for women after coming 4th in the same survey 7 years ago. In 2016, the country recorded 106 rapes a day and four out of every ten victims were minors, the numbers can be even higher as most of the cases go unreported due to social stigma and taboos.
On the pretext, the gang-rape of 27-years-old veterinarian surgeon in Telangana shook the country once again, even revived the frazzling glimpses of 2012 Nirbhaya rape case. Yet the funds initiated by states in the name of Nirbhaya were never implemented.
Today, the Telangana police confirmed that all four men Mohammed Arif (26), Jollu Shiva (20), Jollu Naveen (20) and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu (20), accused in the gang-rape and murder of the victim were shot dead in the early hours of Friday by the police. These four men were taken to the scene of the crime at 3 am for a ‘reconstruction’ during which they tried to escape. The encounters have adhered at a similar spot where the woman was raped, burnt and killed.
In December 2012, the Nirbhaya case generated international headlines when a 23-year-old physical therapy student was gang-raped by six men on a bus in New Delhi. She later died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital in less than two weeks but the justice was given after 7 years exhibiting the flunked system of justice.
India, being a “democratic” “secular” and “sovereign” country believes in a strong judicial uphold but the victims’ yearning of decades have not satisfied the idea of justice. Repeating incessant crimes against women have revealed that something is lacking somewhere which needs to be fixed before citizens give up their faith in Judiciary.
The encounter by Telengana police also raised a few questions: Has the judicial system failed in India? Why were they encountered where the women were killed? Was this a custodial death? Was encountering them a better option? Or there needs to be a system where rape victims would be heard instantaneously holding a PIL in the judiciary? There is no defending any of this. For all its efforts to assert itself on the global stage with its economic and political clout as well as through the soft power of cultural exports such as yoga, the country is held back by its abject failure to get a grip on this.
The Hyderabad based veterinary surgeon went missing on 24 November last month. Priory, she left home around 5.50 pm for a clinic at Gachibowli and parked her two-wheeler near Shamshabad toll plaza. From there, she took a shared cab and reached the vehicle on her way back home when she observed that the rear wheel had a puncture then she was approached by a few truck drivers present there offering help.
The woman told them she would manage to get it repaired at a shop on the way but they allegedly convinced her that it was a risky proposition and sent a teenager along with the scooter to get it repaired.
She called her sister at 9.22 pm saying that she was scared of the truck drivers and other unknown men in the area, her sister said to come away leaving the vehicle and 10 minutes after, her phone was switched off.
The father and the sister of the woman veterinarian said they were very happy and thanked the Telangana government and police. “We watched on TV that they were killed in an encounter. We are very happy. Even people are happy. I thank the Telangana government and police for the encounter. I thank everyone who stood by us.” The young woman’s sister hoped the killings would be a deterrent for others.”With this incident people should be scared to commit such crimes (against women),” she said.
While the woman veterinarian has now come to be known as “Disha”, direction, the Delhi girl was dubbed “Nirbhaya”, the fearless one.
Nirbhaya’s parents also expressed satisfaction and appealed authorities to not punish the policemen involved in the encounter.”The family of the Hyderabad doctor will not have to wait for justice for seven years like us. Police did the right thing,” her father told journalists.
Politicians, Bureaucrats, Lawyers and Activists protruded over with disparaging opinion, scaffolding their own version of consideration.
There were celebratory scenes at the ‘encounter’ site as well with scores of people gathering to congratulate the police and shouting slogans such as “Telangana Police zindabad”. Some women were seen distributing sweets to police personnel.
Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan, who had recently advocated lynching of rapists in Parliament, said the killing of the four men was “long due”.”Better late than never,” she said.
BSP president Mayawati also praised the police for its strong action against the accused.
Congress leader and Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor said extrajudicial killings were not acceptable.
“We need to know more… Until details emerge we should not rush to condemn. But extrajudicial killings are otherwise unacceptable in a society of laws,” he tweeted. BJP leader Maneka Gandhi slammed the police and said it set a “horrifying” precedent.
Rekha Sharma, National Commission for Women chief, said she was happy the perpetrators were dead, but justice should have been done through proper legal channels.
According to Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, the killing of the four men is not justice but a “ploy” to shut down demands for accountability from the police, judiciary, governments, and justice and dignity for women.
She described the incident as the admittance of utter incompetence and failure of criminality on the part of the entire political and police system and accused Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao of deflecting the “whole issue”.
Krishnan said the police personnel responsible must be arrested and prosecuted and must be asked to prove in court that all four men were killed.
Smriti Irani in the Lok Sabha, accusing parties like the Congress of politicising rape. “I won’t name anyone but a party uses rape as a political weapon in the Bengal panchayat polls and they sermonise here,” Smriti Irani said angrily.
“What happened in Unnao, Hyderabad is despicable. There should be tough punishment, yes. But doing politics in such crimes is unpardonable. You were quiet when rape was used as a political weapon in Bengal,” said Ms Irani, alleging selective outrage among opposition MPs.
The Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant, appearing emotional, said many were “blessing” the Telangana cops but it would not have happened if the legal system was not so slow. “The Nirbhaya case took seven years,” he pointed out, referring to the 2012 Delhi gang-rape in which a young medical student died after she was gang-raped and tortured on a moving bus. Four convicts in the case were sentenced to death. One of them had hanged himself in jail. Vinay Sharm, another convict had filed a mercy petition before President Ram Nath Kovind while Mukesh refused to make an appeal. The fourth death row convict, Akshay Kumar Singh, has not filed a review petition in the Supreme Court.
The BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi appeared to back the shooting of the Telangana accused. “The police have not been given weapons as a showpiece,” said Ms Lekhi, adding that the process of law had been followed in Telangana.
Anyone convicted under the stringent POCSO Act that seeks to protect minors from sexual abuse should not be allowed to file mercy plea if they face the gallows, President Ram Nath Kovind said today.
“Women safety is a serious issue. Rape convicts under POCSO Act should not have the right to file mercy petition. Parliament should review mercy petitions,” President Kovind said at an event in Rajasthan’s Sirohi.
BJP leader Kapil Mishra said this was the “correct” way to deal with rapists and hoped other states would take a cue from them.
“This is the way to deal with rapists,” Mishra said, adding, “Hope police of other states will learn from you.”
If we compare the judicial system of India with countries where rape laws are most strict like UAE, Saudi Arabia, it appears that the crime rate against women is lesser. While Saudi Arabia completely follows Sharia Law in which a rape accused is hanged till death, UAE follows some parts of it with the blend of Britain laws and Sharia.
TPE called Telengana DC Prakash Reddy and asked why those 4 accused were taken to the spot where the women died but Mr Reddy hung up the call.