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Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is bigger bluff-master than even Narendra Modi. Finding himself in a tight spot following a spate of rape and gang-rape incidents in and around Bhopal and the resultant screeching headlines in local newspapers, he started his own counter-propaganda about capital punishment to rapists. He even took his idea to the cabinet meeting where some of his senior ministers opposed it on the ground that such a measure would lead to more murders of victims after rape. Eventually he got the approval of the cabinet for suitable amendment in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for a provision of death sentence to whoever rapes a girl of up to 12 years of age. The bill will now be presented to the Assembly which started its winter session on November 27.

Madhya Pradesh has been recording the highest number of crimes against women, including rape, for over a decade. It is not for lack of sufficient legal provision to punish the culprits. The major reason for the rise of heinous crimes, including rape, in Madhya Pradesh is conversion of police force into Chouhan’s personal mafia. The police officers are being used to tamper with the evidence when a serious crime has been committed and the interest of someone close to Chouhan is suspected. Vyapam is the most glaring example where a Special Task Force (STF) headed by a senior IPS officer bungled the entire investigation apparently to save some high-ups. The then DGP and the present DGP were said to have tampered with the evidence of Shehla Masood’s murder in the morning of august 16, 2011 before the team from Koh-e-Fiza police station (which had the jurisdiction) could reach the site. The allegation as to how the senior officers had destroyed the evidence was made by none other than Koh-e-Fiza police station in-charge before a TV channel. Such instances are many.

Coming to the rape, the only instance where Chouhan’s police acted swiftly and submitted the charge-sheet in the court within days was the recent gang-rape of a UPSC student in Bhopal. But the girl, in spite of both of her parents being in the police, had to suffer police-inflicted tortures no less painful than the rape by hoodlums for three hours after dragging her to an isolated place near Habibganj railway station. When she went to the Government Railway Police (GRP) with her complaint, she was mocked for ‘coming with a filmy story’. She was made to run from one police station to another police station, tried to talk to senior officers but in vain and it was because of the outcry in the local media that her complaint was registered after 72 hours. Several more incidents of rape have since been reported around Bhopal and one has not perceived any change in the attitude of the police. It was not for nothing that a Madhya Pradesh High Court judge had described the State’s police as ‘criminals in uniform’.

If Chouhan is really sincere about checking crimes against women, he should made provision of stringent punishment to a police officer found guilty of not registering a rape complaint as soon as the victim approaches the police station. Leave aside death sentence or life imprisonment, even five years’ imprisonment will have salutary effect if the police register the rape complaint promptly, behave with the victim sympathetically and investigate the matter with alacrity —- which is too much to expect from Chouhan who has done everything to corrupt the police, bureaucracy and judiciary. With the police set-up as it is, his talks of death sentence or life imprisonment will have only propaganda value which perhaps is his only objective.

It will not be out of place to reproduce from an earlier piece how Chouhan’s predecessors, Uma Bharti and Babulal Gaur, had amended law to provide harsher punishment to molesters. The  Subsection-A was added to Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of woman); it provided that the offender ‘shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.’ The main Section provides for a maximum punishment of up to two years. Besides, the Madhya Pradesh amendment also provides for the same punishment to whoever abets or conspires in the act, which is not there in the main Section.

Not even once has Chouhan’s corrupt police invoked this Section to book a stalker, though harassment of women on roads and in buses has been steadily on the increase during Chouhan’s regime. 

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Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan suffers from chronic verborrhea. He shoots off jumlas with greater rapidity than in even Narendra Modi. If the rape of a child is highlighted in the media, he takes no time in announcing that child rapists will be given death sentence and his government will bring in the next session of the Assembly the bill to amend the relevant section of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). If a rape is highlighted in the media, he promises death sentence for the rapist by amending the law. If a gang-rape is highlighted in the media, he shouts with full force the death sentence for all the rapists by amending the law in the next session of the Assembly. At present the IPC stipulates from seven years’ rigorous imprisonment to life term for rape, depending on the circumstances.

One thing, he has never moved to introduce a bill to amend the IPC. Secondly, his jumlas come out only when the crime is highlighted in the media. Scores of incidents of molestation and rape take place regularly in Madhya Pradesh outside the big cities and away from the media glare but Chouhan was never heard saying that he could not sleep because of that incident or that he will ensure that the rapist will be awarded the death sentence. Madhya Pradesh, incidentally records the highest molestation/rape incidents in the country. The State Assembly was told earlier this year that on an average, 11 women were raped every day and six women were gang-raped every week in the State during 2016, over half of the victims being minor. Between February 2016 and mid-February 2017, as many as 4279 women were raped and 248 were gang-raped in the State. Of the 4279 rape victims, 2260 were minors. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the State had 5076 such cases in 2014 and 4391 cases in 2015.

The short-lived BJP government of Uma Bharti had addressed itself to the problem of humiliation of women in public and moved a bill in the Assembly to provide harsher punishment to the offenders. She, though, could not see it through. Babulal Gaur had replaced her as the chief minister by the time the bill was passed. It became part of the statute book in December 2004.

The bill added Subsection-A to Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of woman) and provided that the offender ‘shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.’ The main Section provides for a maximum punishment of up to two years. Besides, the Madhya Pradesh amendment also provides for the same punishment to whoever abets or conspires in the act, which is not there in the main Section.

Difficult to say how the amended Section would have been enforced had Uma Bharti remained at the helm of affairs. Her successors (Babulal Gaur and then Shivraj Singh Chouhan), however, did not show any interest in this. The amended law was consigned to the archives once the gazette notification was made. Today most of those concerned – the politicians, the police officers and, of course, those for whose benefit the Act was amended — are not even aware that such a law exists.

Crime, particularly the crimes against women, has been steadily going up in Madhya Pradesh for quite some time. It was during the BJP government of Sunderlal Patwa that Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of heinous crimes including murder, rape and dacoity. The trend continued almost unabated during the ten-year Congress regime of Digvijaya Singh. Bad law and order, with emphasis on crimes against women, formed part of Uma Bharti’s vigorous campaign for the November 2003 Assembly elections, along with what was then described as BSP (bijli, sadak, pani). Being a woman, she had shown particular sensitivity towards the plight of women. Under her leadership, the BJP captured power with an overwhelming majority.

It would be interesting to note that Chouhan, when he replaced Babulal Gaur as Chief Minister in November 2005, believed there was no rule of law in the State. This he put as his top priority. The Governor’s customary address to the Assembly at the beginning of Chouhan’s first budget session had specifically stated: ‘Meri Sarkar ki prathamikata kanoon ka raaj sthapit karana hai’ (the priority of my government is to establish the rule of law). The Governor’s address is always approved by the cabinet. Unfortunately, the law and order in the State has since been steadily deteriorating.

A major reason for this state of affairs is the total personalisation, not politicisation but personalisation, of the police force (once described by Madhya Pradesh High Court judge as ‘criminals in uniform’). Secondly, there are too many IPS officers and an acute shortage of the lower staff who do the field work. To top it all, there is the pathetic insensitivity of the police almost at every level. by the


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Outright Perilous!

An egoist as the head of the government is bad enough. An egotist is a nuisance as his constant chant of I…, I…., I….. jars on the listeners’ years. But when he loses touch with the reality and starts believing his imaginary achievements to be his real achievements, that’s outright perilous.

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