MP: police turn collaborators in crimes against women
Posted November 3, 2010on:
Around the time chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan was indulging in his periodic fetish of signing MoUs worth lakhs of crores of rupees in an extravaganza organised with the public money at Khajuraho in the latter half of October, not far from there a poor farmer family must be ruing the day the people of the State decided to put a bunch of thoroughly corrupt and incompetent persons into power. The family had reason to hate those in charge of the administration. Their teenage girl had been raped and burnt alive — and the police had not only refused to register their complaint but had sided with the perpetrators of the horrendous crime.
Vasundhara, of Magdupura village under Tejpur police station in Damoh district, was a student of the 12th class; she had stood first in the eleventh standard in the entire tehsil. One evening, just as the extravaganza was being laid out at Khajuraho, Nonelal Patel and his wife accompanied their hapless daughter Vasundhara to the police station. Vasundhara told the police station in-charge, Sub-Inspector (S-I) M.P.Mishra, amidst sobs how Saurabh Patel, a neighbour, had dragged her to a secluded place in the evening and raped her. Vasundhara’s mother had even brought the clothes her daughter was wearing at the time and she handed these over to the police.
The police were said to have questioned Vasundhara and her parents for over two hours. After that they registered a case under Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt). There was no mention of rape in the police report. Nonelal Patel was asked to come to the police station the following day.
Next day Nonelal carried with the help of his brother and others the half-burnt body of his daughter to the police station and presented it to the in-charge of the police station. Vasundhara, still struggling for life, told the police officer that this morning as she was lying down in her grand-mother’s room, Saurabh Patel came with three of his family members; they poured kerosene on her, set her afire and hurriedly made their escape. Saurabh was shouting, according to Vasundhara’s statement, that he wanted to see how she would go to the police now. (Vasundhara’s shrieks had attracted her father and others who rushed thither and tried to douse the fire). Vasundhara later succumbed to the burns at Damoh hospital where her father had taken her. Saurabh Patel’s parents, said to be influential people of the area, and the police had been accused of trying to lessen the gravity of the offences by fudging the evidence.
This is not an isolated incident. A 4o-year old tribal woman of Khajri Dhana village in Betul district walked all the way to the district headquarters to complain to the Collector that the sarpanch of the village and four others had raped her some time back and had been harassing her continuously since then. As the Collector had no time, she was asked to take her complaint to the lesser luminaries of the district administration. In sheer frustration, she consumed some poisonous stuff. However, before she could consume the entire stuff, the bottle was snatched by some people and she was thus saved. Some time back, a Dalit rape victim (who was a village panchayat member) had taken her life in front of the Betul Collector’s office after fighting for justice for six years. In her dying declaration, the victim had claimed that she was ending her life as nobody had acted on her complaints while her rapists had continued to harass her. Another rape-victim in Satna district in yet another part of the State, harassed by the perpetrators of the crime and the police alike, also tried to commit suicide.
Not long ago the police in Chhatarpur had forced two school-going sisters to commit suicide instead of providing them help which they had sought. Two police constables were harassing 21-year-old Deepanjali. She mustered courage and, along with her younger sister Pushpanjali, approached the Superintendent of Police (SP) to complain about the criminal activities of the two constables. While seeking action against the offenders, the girls requested the SP not to let her father know of the matter, as he would be upset. The two sisters had lost their mother over 12 years ago and had been brought up by their father Rajkumar Singh.
The SP, instead of initiating action against the criminal policemen, sent two other constables to the girls’ house. They asked the sisters to withdraw the complaint against the two constables, or else, the girls could imagine what would be done to them and what would happen to their father. The girls stubbornly refused to withdraw the complaint but seemed to have lost nerve as soon as the culprits had left their house. The sisters were said to have rushed to an aunt in the neighbourhood and sobbingly narrated the nightmare that faced them in the wake of the threat from the policemen. As they returned to their house, they saw the policemen around and in sheer desperation, both of them swallowed pesticides. Both succumbed. A sham inquiry later exonerated the police.
The incidents of crime against women in Madhya Pradesh had started going up soon after the BJP had come to power in 2003 and there had been an upward leap after Shivraj Singh Chauhan took over. Concerned at the large number of rape cases in the State, the BJP government had some time back issued what it called elaborate guidelines to the police to deal with such cases. It had also issued the warning that stern action would be taken against those officers who failed to act promptly. The Superintendents of Police were asked to collate, police station-wise, the rape incidents with full particulars of the victim, including the relief provided to her or her family by the government or any other agency. If the victim was in need of some relief, her application should be sent to the department concerned for expeditious disposal and the Home Department should be kept posted with all such cases, the guidelines had stated. The police superintendents were also required to ensure psychological rehabilitation of the victim.
And now as the chief minister wants the people to live in the fantasy of his swarnim (golden) Madhya Pradesh, the policemen/officers are themselves increasingly turning into perpetrators of crimes against women or collaborators/protectors of the offenders.