Thursday, September 29th, 2022 07:38:23

Khaki Shame

By Ms Varidhi Singh
Updated: June 24, 2022 1:28 pm

Again a sordid incident has happened in our midst; a sad reminder of how unsafe women are even with police. A teenage girl is abducted and gangraped by four youths.More indignity and traumaawaits herat police station, where she went to lodge a complaint. It is reported that on April 22, a 13-year-old girl hailing from Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh was taken to Bhopal by four youths, where she was confined in a house and sexually assaulted for three days. On April 23, the girl’s parents lodged a missing person report with the police station. The rapists brought the girl back from Bhopal on April 26.In an act of grave connivance which is commonplace in our society involving the police, the accused accompanied by the survivor’s aunt said to have brought the girl to the Pali police station in Lalitpur on the same day.

Tilakdhari Saroj, the station house officer (SHO) of the police station met the victim and her aunt, but did not take any cognizance of the incident and ordeal narrated by the victim. In a rare callousness, he is alleged to have faltered on many counts.No complaint or first information report was lodged.Victim’s statement was not recorded.No efforts were made to arrest the accused who were present in the vicinity of the police station.Victim’s parents who had lodged missing person report were not informed and the girl was given in the custody of her aunt who had accompanied the accused to the police station. In contravention to all rules and regulations,the girl was not sent for medical examination despite the complaint of repeated sexual assaults.

The SHO is said to have instructed the aunt of the girl to bring her again the next day for formalities. On the evening of April 27, when the survivor was brought to the police station by her aunt the SHO is alleged to have sexually assaulted her in the police station premises.He then told her aunt to bring the girl again to him the next day.Ironically, the police station was also staffed with six women police constables.

On April 28, the SHO handed over the victim to a non-governmental organization (NGO) Childline, where she narrated her ordeal to the counselor. The NGO reported the matter to the superintendent of police, Lalitpur. After enduring an ordeal spanning seven days a first information report could be registered on May 3. On the instructions of the superintendent of police a case of rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act – 2021 has been registered against the SHO, four youths and the conniving aunt. The entire police personnel posted to the police station have been removed. The SHO who was suspended was on the run and arrested from the premises of Allahabad High Court, where he had fled to arrange for an anticipatory bail.

Sexual offences against women and girls are a perpetual crime in India. Unfortunately, it is still treated just like any other crime data. National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in its annual publication Crime in India – 2020 states that there were 28153 cases of rape in the country of which 2655 (9.4%) victims were girls between the age group of six months to below 18 years. 25498 (90.6%) were women in the age group of 18 years and above who became the victim of this heinous crime. Talking about the States 48.17% (1279) rape cases against the girls and 15.91% (4058) cases involving women and adult victims took place in Rajasthan which brought it the ignominy of being leading state in the country. Uttar Pradesh with 2796 cases and Madhya Pradesh with 2341 cases were placed second and third respectively.

The conviction rate is an important indicator of the efficiency of police, prosecution and judiciary in preventing the crimes. Our conviction rates for the crimes against women and girls for 2020 such as murder with rape/ gangrape (63%), kidnapping and abduction (32%), procuration of minor girls (8.6%), selling/ buying of minor girls (0%), rape (39%), attempt to commit rape (34%) and assault with intent to outrage her modesty (28%) are far below the international standards. The conviction rate of total Indian Penal Code crimes against women is a paltry 28%. Such poor conviction rate only emboldens the culprits.

Rape is mostly committed by ‘first-time offenders’ with no criminal past or record. In 2021, 91% rapes were committed by first-timers. It indicates that family ties are getting broken and the youth and juveniles get swayed by bad company, pornography, drug addiction and crimes to commit crimes against women.

The NCRB data regarding the ‘Rape in Custody’ by police personnel, government servants, members of the armed forces, jails, remand homes and hospitals for 2020 is just 29 cases (0.14%), which may be grossly underreported figures.

The dark side of Indian police force – corruption, indiscipline, partiality, custodial deaths, rapes and insensitiveness towards women, children and marginal sections of society has been a much debated issue. For all its behavioral inconsistencies we always blame the colonial mindset of the police force. Despite such a large cadre of officers at the command level, behavior of the police force across the countrystill remains deplorable. At the time when Nation is celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Lalitpur incident should make us think about the ways to improve the discipline and behavior of men in Khaki.

 

By Ms Varidhi Singh

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