Recently there was ghastly incident in Delhi when a girl from North East working in a BPO was gang raped in a movie vehicle. As 2 girls were dropped by their company vehicle late at night, bunch of men driving a tempo truck kidnapped one of the girls and fled away. Other girl, her friend, called the police control room soon after. Kidnapped girl was found next day dropped at some location after being raped. That Delhi is not just a political and national capital of India but also a rape capital is not a secret. This is a city where 1 rape is 'reported' every day. In year 2010 itself there have been around 398 rape cases so for. It is also not a secret that Most of North India and Delhi region is unsafe for women and a sexually aggressive culture is one of the reasons. Girls from North east are often the target primarily because of cultural insensitiveness and stereotyping which tag them as 'loose and easily available'. But this is not the point I want to disuses here. Why does North India and Delhi in particular has a certain attitude and behavior towards women is not what concerns me in this post. What concerns me is what Delhi Police commissioner said on a TV debate while discussing the aforementioned gang rape incident.
The commissioner argued that had BPO vehicle stopped for some time more , the incident would not have happened and that BPO and other employers need to be more responsible around safely of women employers. Now these are fair points. But fact is that commissioner was indulging in diversion here. Let me tell you why. Main responsibility of police is to maintain law and order so that citizens of country can lead normal lives without fear, day or night...yes day or 'night'. What if woman in question was not a BPO employee but just another woman on her own returning home after a late night train or flight or dinner or party or after work or after just taking a night stroll ? Would she then be a legitimate target for kidnap and gang rape? This is ridiculous argument. Agreed that one has to be careful at night and specially knowing that Delhi is not safe. But does Delhi police has no role to change this status quo ever? Point I want to make is that commissioner was conveniently shifting blame on BPO whereas maintaining law and order is Police's job. After kidnapped girl's friend called the police helpline, the vehicle carrying those criminals passed as many as some 10 ( or in that range) police checkpoints and was never stopped. Why? According to commissioner Police has to know make of vehicle and its number to look for vehicle . This is preposterous. If Police gets a distressed signal of a kidnap of a girl at 1 am in morning, shouldn’t it stop and check all vehicles in that area! Don’t we see arbitrary, traffic stopping checking at peak hours during day sometime, so why couldn’t it be done in this case at 1 am in morning when traffic is thin. It could have saved a girl from getting raped for god sake. From what we hear, police hardly reacted on time after getting the distress call and a girl was raped in vehicle as it was moving around the national capital streets passing police check points. How tragic and what a failure.
There are many aspects to this case which speak a lot about how bad our policing system is (e.g. the culprits were routine offenders and should have been under watch) and I don’t want to comment on it here. But it is unnerving that commissioner of police instead of accepting that there are things that are not working and need to be changed is indulging in diversionary talks. There is a little hope of change when that happens.